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OneBox in first wireless carrier deal

The unified messaging division of Phone.com is close to a deal to provide its services to Canadian telecommunications giant Telus.

OneBox.com, the unified messaging division of Phone.com, is close to a deal to provide its services to Canadian telecommunications giant Telus.

The deal, which has yet to be officially announced, is the first tangible sign of traction for the young messaging company's new strategy, which is focused on selling to wireless carriers instead of directly to consumers.

News of the relationship, now in late trial phase, comes just a few days after the close of Phone.com's acquisition of OneBox, which was originally announced in February.

The unified messaging landscape has sprouted into a thick field of competitors in recent months, with new companies offering variations on Web voice mail, fax, email or voice chat capabilities every week. The moves have attracted interest from the giant phone companies and the likes of America Online, but the market is still young enough that business models are in flux.

Phone.com's purchase of OneBox has given that company a leg up on many of its competitors, however. Its new parent already has software infrastructure relationships with many of the biggest wireless phone see story: Technology tussle underlies wireless Web carriers worldwide, and is hoping to sell the giants on new application services such as Web-accessible voice mail, email and faxes.

The Telus relationship was struck before the close of the merger, Phone.com chief executive Alain Rossman said on a conference call yesterday. "We expect other (customers) to be announced later this year," he added.

Telus is the second-largest communications company in Canada, with a wireless as well as a long-distance and local phone division.