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BT has launched a range of phones that will allow people to send a receive text messages on their fixed telephone lines. The service will send texts to and from mobile phones and between fixed line phones. For those without SMS enabled handsets, BT will convert the text to speech.

So far, Vodafone, T-Mobile BT Mobile and 3 have signed up and BT says it expects O2 will introduce the service within weeks. As for land line customers who want to text, naturally BT's own customers can play, as can those of Kingston Communications and Telewest, although Telewest's outgoing service will not kick in until the end of the year.

Mike Short, chairman of the Mobile Data Association (MDA) said that fixed line text was a technically complex service, but "BT has the advantage of being able to learn from the efforts and challenges of European incumbents and benchmark performance to ensure that the UK gets it right".

Figures from the MDA at the end of 2003 indicate we Brits send, on average, 59m text messages every day, and BT would dearly love to tap into that revenue stream.

Pricing is in line with the cost of texting using a mobile phone. For BT customers, texts sent from a land line will cost 10p, or 8p for BT together customers. Fixed line to fixed line texts are being offered free until November this year. Texts sent from a mobile to a BT phone are charged at the normal operator rate.

The phones are on the market now, and start at £29.99. ®

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