One of the reasons why News of the World journalists found it so easy to eavesdrop on mobile messages is an almost unthinking customer acceptance of the voicemail service provided by their airtime operator. Sign up with Vodafone, for example, and most of us will, without hesitation, use Vodafone for voicemail. Similarly, O2 customers will go for what O2 gives them, T-Mobile will stick with what they're given and so on.

But it doesn't have to be that way. It is possible, and relatively painless, to switch to another voicemail service and, when you start to look for them, lots of providers offering just that. Moreover, many throw in additional functionality to both make their voicemail services more useful and secure.

One increasingly popular alternative is HulloMail ( which as well as letting you pick up voicemails in the normal manner, can convert them to MP3 files and forward them to you by email. So, instead of having to dial the voicemail service (an expensive option when abroad) you can just play the MP3 on your phone or pick it up from a PC over the Web. You can also forward messages, save them, even reply to voicemails by sending a "Hullo" in return, and you don't have to navigate lengthy voice menus to do so.

Available for most handsets, HulloMail will work with any operator and, crucially for would-be hackers, can be configured to save messages in your own voicemail store rather than on HulloMail servers.

There are others besides and, for businesses looking for total control it's possible to bring voicemail entirely in-house and do it all yourself. Something which, in the wake of the NoTW (News of The World) scandal, many will now be looking into.

This article is written by Alan Stevens and sponsored by Avaya. The opinions reflected in this piece are solely those of Alan Stevens and may not reflect those of Avaya management