Royal Mail sets sights on e-mail

Royal Mail is to link up with Microsoft to provide an added-value e-mail service in a bid to fight back against the competing technology.

Royal Mail is to link up with Microsoft to provide an added-value

e-mail service in a bid to fight back against the competing

technology.



Just last year, the government-owned service insisted that it did not

fear the rise of e-mail and would not offer e-mail services. However,

Royal Mail now wishes to link electronic and traditional mail in a

service which would forward hard copies of e-mail documents to people

who do not hold e-mail accounts. The service is scheduled to launch at

the beginning of the year.



Last week, the Swedish postal service, Sweden Post, launched @Post,

which provides every Swedish citizen over the age of six with an e-mail

account, to be used for personal correspondence and for the payment of

bills. Inexpensive ’microstamps’ are required for each e-mail sent.



According to an industry source, the UK service is not as ambitious as

Sweden’s and will simply offer hard copy delivery, rather than an e-mail

account for every citizen. But the service will include people without

computers who will have their e-mail forwarded to the nearest post

office, to be printed and delivered by hand.



The United Nations Postal Union has recommended that other countries

adopt the @Post service and embrace e-mail as a new source of

revenue.



Twelve other European countries are thought to be considering similar

projects.



Royal Mail is also talking to other IT partners about joint ventures,

one of which is a deal with Internet browser creator, Netscape. The

system, to be implemented nationwide next year, will allow people to

fill in forms, such as tax returns, on the Internet.



Royal Mail refused to comment on the plans.



Sweden Post project manager Stefan Jonsson said it is important for

national post offices to take action in the next 18 to 24 months. ’There

will be no post in eight to ten years from now,’ he said.



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