*USPS Chooses Partners for NetPost Mailing Online Service

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Officials at the U.S. Postal Service have chosen two partners for the new NetPost Mailing Online service.

NetPost Mailing Online -- formerly called Mailing Online -- was announced last month. The service allows mailers to electronically transmit documents, correspondence, newsletters and other First-Class mail and Standard-A mail, along with their mailing lists, to the USPS via www.usps.com.

The electronic files are then securely distributed to printing contractors located near the delivery destination, where they are printed, inserted into correctly addressed envelopes with appropriate postage, and then sorted and transported to the post office for processing and delivery.

Designed to address the needs of small- to medium-sized mailers, NetPost Mailing Online aims to maximize cost savings for the consumer by commingling mailings, using a network of commercial printers, pre-sorting the mailing, and entering the mailing closest to its delivery point.

The pricing for the service is based on various options, ranging from the class of mail to the number of pages in the document; and from binding and envelope choices to the size of the paper used for printing. A two-page document printed on letter-size paper, stapled, placed in an addressed envelope and mailed via First-Class mail would cost about 40 cents apiece.

The printing contractor partners that the USPS chose are XYAN.com, King of Prussia, PA, and Transmedial, Roselle, IL. Both companies are working with the USPS and already are serving thousands of customers.

Jim Samaniego, an e-commerce specialist at the USPS, said that the agency's goal is to sign 25 print partners nationwide and deploy those print sites over the next few years.

"Right now, we are currently under a solicitation where we are evaluating potential contract suppliers, and over the next 30 days or so, we will make awards for additional contracts across the United States," Samaniego said.

Samaniego did not say whether the USPS would sign 25 vendors or fewer vendors with several print sites. XYAN.com has one print site in Philadelphia, and Mailing Online customers located in that area use its services. Transmedial has one print site in Roselle and is working with Chicago customers.

In October 1998, the Postal Rate Commission recommended a market test of the service -- which the Board of Governors approved -- in five metropolitan areas: Boston; Hartford, CT; Philadelphia; New York; and Tampa, FL. After the market test ended in October 1999, a filing with the Postal Rate Commission requesting the national expansion of the service was approved by the governors.

This launch represents the beginning of a three-year experiment, which is the third of an expected four-step process that will culminate in the establishment of a permanent NetPost Mailing Online service.

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