IM this article to a friend!

December 29, 2004

Deaf hail SMS pay phones

From: Melbourne Herald Sun - Melbourne,Victoria,Australia - Dec 29, 2004

Shaun Phillips

THE expected arrival of thousands of international visitors for the Deaflympics has fast-tracked a phone revolution.

Half of Melbourne's 3600 pay phones will offer SMS by the time next Wednesday when Guy Sebastian sings at the Deaflympics opening ceremony at Olympic Park.

Victoria is leading the way. Eventually all 32,000 public telephones in Australia will be text-enabled.

Telstra believes Britain is the only other nation rolling out SMS pay phones.

The development is a boon for the deaf community, which relies heavily on SMS.

"Oh my God, I have to have it to communicate," Australia's top-ranked deaf tennis player Carolyn McKnight said yesterday.

"It's number one in the deaf community. It's the means of communicating where you feel equal with hearing people."

Experts estimate Australians will send 6.5 billion text messages this year. Pay-phone messages can have up to 160 characters, the same as a mobile phone. The cost is 20 cents.

Unlike a mobile phone, the phone boxes provides a one-way service only – sending to mobile phones.

SMS pay phones are also operating in Ballarat, which will host some Deaflympics events.

The Deaflympics run for 12 days from next Wednesday.

© Herald and Weekly Times