Reach Out, Message Someone

From a Times Staff Writer

Pacific Bell has begun limited commercial testing of a “voice messaging” service that will provide customers who have push-button telephones with a sophisticated answering system and other services.

The test, started Friday, is limited to residents and small businesses in one Southern California community, San Pedro, and in the Silicon Valley community of Milpitas. If successful, the San Francisco-based company expects to phase in the voice messaging service throughout its California network starting next year.

Customers can use the new “message center service” to send, receive, save and forward telephone messages. Instructions will be available in English and Spanish. Pacific Bell will charge residential customers $6 a month and small business customers $12 a month for voice mail service. There also will be installation fees of $7 for residential customers and $15 for small businesses, although they won’t apply until after April.

In San Pedro, the service is available only to phone numbers beginning with the following prefixes: 500, 514, 519, 521, 547, 548, 831, 832 and 833.