Friday, July 17, 2009

The Postal System Becomes an Anachronism

Posted: June 15, 2009 at 5:27 am
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The US Postal System, which has been dying for years due to the advent of the fax, e-mail, and overnight delivery, may finally be close to its last act.

The agency lost nearly $2 billion in its last fiscal year and is faced with cuts of up to 3,100 offices potentially eliminating thousand of jobs. Media reports say that first class mail volumes are plunging.

What is killing and will probably eventually finish off the Post Office? In a word “broadband”, a system that the current Administration plans to build out quickly in the next two years.

According to Market Watch, the Post Office is already looking at stopping Saturday delivery. The next moves will probably cut the number of weekdays the mail is dropped off, particularly outside urban areas where the cost of reaching homes and businesses spread over a wide geography is enormous.

Broadband has taken away the need for sending letters and may large documents. Broadband connections allow users to securely download encrypted files, some of which are the equivalent of thousands of pages of paper. The files can be sent and received in a few seconds compared with days to move them by mail.

Payment systems which wire transfer money have nearly eliminated the role of the check in paying bills. This will only increase as e-banking does.

Even the magazine and newspaper industries which relied on physical delivery systems for decades now use the Amazon (AMZN) Kindle as a way to get the printed word over the internet and downloaded onto the device. Almost every major print product also has an Internet version. Sending magazines via mail is expensive. Cutting back on that form of delivery would be a blessing.

The modern postal system killed the pony express. The USPS could only last so long before it way itself replaced. That time has finally come.

Douglas A. McIntyre
(Source: UNI Japan News)