Four years on from the introduction of the Apple iPhone, Telstra has begun offering the Visual Voicemail service to post-paid mobile customers.
Launched today via a blog post, the feature - being touted as “MessageBank Plus” on the Telstra network - is available on iPhones with version 4.3 or later of the iOS operating system, ruling out first and second generations of the smartphone.
It must be activated by post-paid users over the phone, and comes at an additional cost of $5 per month.
The feature launched largely to negative fare from commenters on the blog entry, mostly due to the associated cost.
“We’ve tried to make this feature affordable for customers, while also meeting the costs associated with setting it up and running it reliably,” a Telstra spokesperson told Computerworld Australia. “While a competitor charges data rates for this service, we have elected to offer a simple-to-manage subscription that includes all data needed to access the service in Australia.”
Normal call charges apply for calls made using the call back function, for call diversion to MessageBank and retrieval from MessageBank. International data roaming charges also apply for the delivery of messages to your iPhone using MessageBank and while overseas.
The feature, which presents voicemail messages in a list form rather than using voice prompts, allows users to manage and delete messages as well their greeting. It has been available on the iPhone since the first generation of the device was announced in 2007, but requires support from individual carriers to be enabled.
The capability is no longer advertised by Apple on the list of features available on the iPhone, largely due to lack of support by carriers. It was initially only available on the former exclusive US carrier, AT&T, and at time of writing is available on 42 of the 188 global carriers officially carrying the phone.
Vodafone, which launched the same service to some issues in May 2009, currently offers the service for free but limits the voicemail inbox to 20 messages of approximately 50KB in size each for up to seven days.
Rival carrier Optus is yet to offer visual voicemail.
Telstra acknowledged it had been timely in getting the service up and running for customers, following many customers voicing demands for the feature via broadband forum Whirlpool.
“We know many of you have been asking for this feature for some time, so we’re really pleased that we’ve been able to design, test and now offer this to customers,” the blog post read.
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