Canada beats U.S. to the click on e-delivery

Canada beats U.S. to the click on e-delivery

By William Jackson

GCN Staff

Canada Post is the first national postal service to roll out a secure electronic delivery service, developed jointly with the U.S. Postal Service and France's La Poste.

The Canadian postal service last month made its Post Electronic Courier Service (PosteCS) commercially available after nearly two years of testing.

USPS on May 9 announced free 30-day trials of its service. La Poste has said it expects to roll out the service later this year.

The three organizations developed PosteCS under the auspices of the International Post Corp., a cooperative organization of 21 national postal services. The member organizations want to forestall further loss of postal business because of the shift from paper to electronic documents.

PosteCS uses the Integrated Messaging Exchange engine from Tumbleweed Software Corp. of Redwood City, Calif., to exchange files securely over the Web. A USPS-developed Electronic Postmark Service applies a tamper-resistant time and date stamp to authenticate documents legally.

PosteCS stores the documents on secure Web servers; e-mail is used only for notification. The applications for the three postal services operate separately through servers at centers in San Mateo, Calif., Ottawa and Paris.

The service requires no special user software other than Netscape Navigator 2.0 or Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 or higher versions of the Web browsers, plus any e-mail service.

To use PosteCS, a sender with a password-protected account logs on to the secure Web site at global.postecs.com and uploads a document along with the recipient's e-mail address and any accompanying message. The sender can select from options such as encryption, receipt notification, delivery date, expiration date, billing code, password and electronic postmark.

The PosteCS server generates e-mail to the recipient containing the sender's message and a unique uniform resource locator for accessing the document. If a password is required, it must go by a separate route.

The service accepts all formats for word processing documents, spreadsheets, multimedia files and executable programs. To get around application incompatibilities, it converts the files to the Adobe Portable Document Format.

Users can sign up for a 30-day free trial of PosteCS on the USPS Web site, at www.framed.usps.com/postecs. After the initial trial, they will be billed based on volume of files transferred and features used.

A basic transaction involving a 1M file delivered to one recipient, with tracking, delivery and 30-day storage on the server will cost $1.70. Transactions involving larger files or extra features will cost more.

Contact USPS at 800-344-7779.

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