Telstra Home Messages 101 is a free service that was introduced to Telstra customers in July 2003. Essentially, it is a stripped-down version of their MessageBank virtual answering machine service.
When a caller attempts to call a user with Home Messages 101 enabled, and the user is in another call, or not answering, the caller is diverted to a prompt that asks them to leave a message. When the user returns, or finishes their call, they are alerted to the presence of a message by a stuttered dial tone. The user then calls the number 101 free from their phone to retrieve the message.
Telstra offer a similar paid service: MessageBank. For $AUS6 per month, the user recieves a similar service to Home Messages 101. Messagebank is free from the limitations of Home Messages 101. Whereas Home Messages 101 has a limit of 10 messages, MessageBank has a limit of 60. MessageBank messages are also kept for twice as long before being automatically deleted. MessageBank also offers PIN security and remote access.
Many people are puzzled as to why Telstra would introduce this free service which would appear to kill demand for MessageBank. The cynic in me realises that Telstra are paid 22c per call, whether a human, or answering machine answers. By giving "free" answering machines to its user base, Telstra are increasing the number of connections made, and thus its profits.