In developing countries, people who want a telephone may often find the installation too costly or the wait too long. Perhaps a less expensive solution would be "virtual telephone service," a type of automated answering service that aims to provide many of the benefits of phone service without requiring ownership of a telephone.
Comverse Technology Inc., a Woodbury, N.Y., manufacturer of voice mail systems, said it had received an order for its computerized answering machine equipment for use in virtual phone service in the northwestern part of Mexico. The order came from Telefonos del Noroeste, a unit of Mexico's telephone company that serves the northwestern part of the country.
In virtual phone service, customers who do not have their own phones are given access to a voice mail system. Each subscriber receives an individual telephone number; a call to that number connects to a voice mail "box" where the caller leaves a message. Using pay telephones, subscribers can retrieve the recorded messages and leave new messages.