Modern technology is closing in on the age-old question of families keeping in touch with their loved ones in the front lines.

American Telephone & Telegraph Co. is close to setting up a facsimile service in Saudi Arabia to enable some 100,000 American servicemen and women there to send letters and messages home.

"We are looking into the possibility of setting up a fax service," said Herb Linnen, company spokesman. "We would like to be able to do it, but there are some logistical hurdles to be resolved." He declined to comment on whether the service will be free or not.

Linnen said that AT&T has been working closely with the military and the Saudi Arabian government over a period of days. One of the difficulties the company is facing is getting a place large enough to accommodate the number of servicemen who will want to use the service, he said.

"We are trying to work out as quickly as possible how to accommodate the anticipated interest family and friends would have ... " Linnen said. He declined to comment on whether the machines would be used to receive messages or would be limited to outgoing letters.

Linnen said AT&T hopes to "introduce the service as soon as it becomes clear that the logistics ... ensure that the fax gets into the hand of the servicemen and women."