BT has announced the trial of a new service that will allow SMS messages from mobiles to be sent to fixed-line phones using automatic text-to-speech conversion technology.

BT says this is a "big step towards providing some of the 'mobile experience' to the fixed-line network".

As well as words, the synthetic speech conversion will be able to recognise and convert text speech abbreviations such as: #:-( (bad hair day). The synthesized lady's voice can also laugh. BT claims that in the future text-to-speechers will be able to send musical 'jingles' as part of messages.

According to BT, the proposed service will be useful for anybody who wants to text someone without a mobile, or when they know that a mobile will be out of range or switched off.

It will also prove useful to the elderly, blind or partially sighted people who have not been able to make use of SMS previously, says BT.

BT Wholesale chief executive Paul Reynolds said: "SMS is now a major telecommunications service and has become a very useful and positive part of many people's lives. Extending it to fixed lines through the imaginative use of text to voice technology will make it a much more flexible and fun service for business and personal users.

"It is also a great example of the work we are doing to help converge fixed and mobile communications for the benefit of customers in the future. We are looking forward to completing the trial so that our customers can begin offering text to voice as part of their service."

A number of operators have expressed an interest in the service and are currently in discussion with BT Wholesale.