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By offering virtual handsets and an instant messaging service, the mobile operator will expand beyond its teaser island in the Internet-based virtual world

Vodafone is expected to offer a host of new services for users in the virtual world when it unveils its Second Life island in the coming weeks.

The operator will offer virtual handsets which enable users to contact one other in the virtual world and an SMS instant messaging service, according to media reports.

A Vodafone spokesman told the long-term aim for the new island will be to complement other services within Second Life.

The spokesman said telephony could well be one such new service, and said details will be confirmed nearer the time.

Despite withdrawing from a number of real world territories - including Belgium, Japan and Sweden – in 2006, Vodafone announced plans to move into Second Life last November and hosts a 'teaser island' in the virtual space.

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