CompuServe gives voice to email

CompuServe is launching a new service to let its members listen to their email.

CompuServe is betting that people can't be without their email any more than they can miss a phone call.

The second-largest online service today launched a new program that for its members will enable people to listen to their email from any touch-tone phone. That's right, listen to their email.

A special calling card will enable access to email without a computer. After the call is placed, an electronic speech synthesizer scans the messages and actually reads them aloud to the user.

Other features include the ability to forward email to a local fax and listen to voice mail, conference calling, and access to stock quotes, sports scores, and news briefs. Presented in conjunction with Premiere Technologies, a telephony company, card subscribers will also receive discounts on long distance phone calls.

The new service is currently only available to CompuServe Information Service subscribers. The card is free, but listening to your mail will cost $.25 per minute, according to CompuServe, the second-largest online service.