vFax to include free voice mail

A free Australian virtual fax service that enables Net users to receive faxes by e-mail will ramp up next week when Sydney and Melbourne fax numbers are launched in conjunction with a free voice mail service.vFax (http://www.vfax.com.au), a West Australian start-up, will on Tuesday add Sydney fax numbers to its service, which currently only offers WA-metro numbers. Melbourne fax numbers will follow shortly thereafter, with plans for Queensland and South Australia in the loop.

Under the vFax system, registered users are provided with a free unique fax number that is assigned to their e-mail address. Faxes sent to the number are converted into GIF files which can then be viewed at a vFax URL. The vFax user is notified by an e-mail that a fax has been received and is directed to the URL.

From Tuesday vFax will include voice mail functionality, allowing users to receive voice messages via their vFax number. Messages can be retrieved over the phone by dialling-in and entering an ID number or via e-mail, said a spokesman. The company plans to convert voice mail messages into WAV files once they are received and send them to the user via e-mail as an attachment.

According to Sean Gentry, a director of Impress Technologies, of which vFax is a subsidiary, the service will eventually include a Web-based e-mail offering similar to Hotmail and will allow users to dial in and hear what kinds of messages are waiting in their in-box. Gentry also said users will be able to listen via the phone to their standard e-mail messages read out by a computer-generated voice using text-to-speech software.

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