As Safaricom and Airtel are locked in a bitter fight over MNP, yu, the mobile phone brand of Essar Telecom Kenya Limited, has today launched Voice SMS in collaboration with Kirusa. Kirusa is a leading global developer of Mobile Value Added Services. This becomes the first ever Voice SMS service in Kenya. The Kirusa Voice SMS service has been implemented by Vodafone in various markets including Ghana and India. This might be the first product of Vodafone’s acquisition of Essar India.

The Voice SMS service is available to all yu subscribers, on all mobile handsets, and allows them to send and reply messages by voice, eliminating the need to type. Subscribers will have to pay 1 KES for sending, replying, or forwarding voice SMS messages.

To use the new service, yu subscribers can now dial followed by the number of the person they wish to send the message to, and speak a short message for up to 30 seconds in any language. The recipient gets a notification message from the sender and can dial *0 to hear new voice messages. Previously received voice messages can be listened to by dialing 1. First listen is free. Repeat Listen is priced at 50 cents.

Kirusa has pioneered a suite of applications including Call-n-Tweet application which helps update twitter status using voice. Kirusa provides an open platform with APIs to enable third parties to offer mobile applications and content services to mobile subscribers. Kirusa has also launched a Consumer Corner, an online site for information and resources on Voice based MVAS for mobile subscribers at Kirusa is headquartered in New Jersey and has sales offices in three continents, with research anddevelopment facilities in Bangalore, India.