USPS ups online services
- By Natasha Haubold
- May 15, 2000
The U.S. Postal Service, in yet another effort to find an Internet foothold,
has increased its portfolio of online services by making it possible to
send and receive certified e-mail.
The Post Electronic Courier Service, (PosteCS), made available May 10,
notifies senders when a document has been sent, when the recipient has been
notified and when the recipient has opened the document.
Customers do not dial into an Internet service provider, as they normally
would, but into a USPS data center. The Postal Service is hoping that the
PosteCS will appeal to people or businesses that want the speed of electronic
messaging without giving up the reliability of USPS' standard certified
"PosteCS brings the trust, security and peace of mind that the Postal
Service brand is known for to the area of global electronic communications,"
said John Nolan, deputy postmaster general. USPS is offering a free, 30-day
trial of the service that soon will cost $1.70 per transaction.
Customers can access the service on the World Wide Web at www.framed. usps.com/postecs.
Once a document is sent, it is stored on a USPS server and given its own
Web address. The intended recipient gets an e-mail notification that a document
has been sent to them and that it can be accessed via the URL provided.
USPS is not the first entity to offer such a service. The Canadian postal
service has been using the same technology since late last month, and American
Greetings has been sending electronic greeting cards in this manner for
more than a year.
The PosteCS system is the latest in a series of online services USPS
has offered customers in an attempt to maintain revenue as people move
from handwritten letters to electronic messaging, said William Kovasic,
a procurement lawyer and visiting professor at George Washington University
who specializes in USPS. "[USPS'] future is at risk without change," he
USPS announced April 5 that it would immediately offer customers the
option of paying bills online through a secure Web portal. Two weeks later,
USPS began offering electronic postmarks that can be attached to any Internet
communication and can protect documents by detecting if a document or file
has been tampered with in transit.
USPS is using Tumbleweed Communications Corp.'s servers, software and technology
to offer the certified e-mail service.
"Tumbleweed technology and services have been implemented to provide
confidentiality and security to users," said Mark Pastore, Tumbleweed's
vice president of corporate development. "Tumbleweed has a robust Internet
message server that can handle high volume in a secure architecture that
includes privacy, authentication and tamper notification."