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AOL calls for voice mail

The Internet giant unveils its latest paid service, which lets subscribers listen to voice messages online and e-mail over the phone.

America Online unveiled on Wednesday a voice-mail service as part of its ongoing efforts to sell additional services to subscribers.

As previously reported, AOL Voicemail lets people listen to voice messages via e-mail and lets them hear e-mail over the phone. The service costs $5.95 a month on top of AOL's standard $23.90 monthly subscription fee.

The launch is part of AOL's strategy to diversify its revenue in the face of eroding advertising dollars and stalled subscriber growth. AOL executives in December earmarked the introduction of paid services as one of the AOL Time Warner unit's primary initiatives to improve its financial outlook. The company has also promised further refinements of its AOL flagship service to satisfy existing subscribers and to attract new ones.

Earlier this week, the company confirmed plans to launch an enhanced version of its AOL 8.0 service to broaden its appeal to high-speed Internet users. Called AOL 8.0 Plus, the version will include firewall and antivirus software, improved parental controls and its new advanced e-mail client AOL Communicator. AOL will also offer a version that lets up to seven screen names under one account log on simultaneously.

As part of the introduction of AOL 8.0 Plus, AOL will launch a marketing campaign, costing about $35 million, according to a source familiar with the plans.

Separately, AOL has introduced a concert ticket service called AOL Box Office, a partnership with USA Interactive's Ticketmaster division.