FREE E-LETTER SERVICE
Delivery system is not only innovative but also addresses the ground realities of a Pakistani society
By SYED M. ASLAM
Nov 04 - 10, 2002
Want to add pizzazz to your emails? Like to turn your emails into eletters delivered to your relatives, friends and acquaintances — for free. No you have this value-added option thanks to an innovative service introduced by a US-based web site- www.mailmymail.com.
The free post email service allows the senders to electronically transmit email, both text and data — messages, greetings, photographs, scanned letter, images, etc. — which are hand-delivered to any city, town or village across Pakistan. Pakistanis living overseas as well as residing here in the country can now have a facility that can not help them not only save cost of postage but also reduce the delivery time associated with regular postal delivery, particularly in the post-anthrax era which has slowed down the global postal delivery times by half. Thus, the service cuts the global message delivery times down to a few days instead of weeks at a time when international mail delivery times in many countries have doubled due to anthrax scare.
Mail-my-mail service is the materialization of a simple idea — to connect computer users with those who do not use, or do not have PCs, anywhere in the world and that too at free of cost. No credit cards are required and there are no hidden charges whatsoever. In short, the service help PC users to send email which is delivered as a regular letter to a relative, friend or acquaintance in Pakistan.
The service was started in February this year and today is much active nationwide. There are plans to expand the service to other South Asian countries including India, Sri, Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh in near future.
What makes the service even more attractive is that it requires no registration and no user login. The service uses a centralized automated system that requires minimal handling by humans and the messages are printed on papers, folded and sealed in envelopes and dispatched to the local recipients. The system is efficient, reliable, free and ensures total confidentiality.
The expenses involved — from the printing of the email messages on papers to folding and sealing and its onward delivery to the recipients — are covered by sponsors. The service provider says that deliveries are subject to effectiveness of the local postal system in each country. However, the eletters are normally delivered within six days from the date they were printed which still cuts the delivery time considerable compared to regular postal service.
Mail-my-mail claims that the service is the first of its kind anywhere in the world. What, however, makes the service more important is the fact that it provides business to the local postal system at a time when the growing e-mail culture is depriving the national post offices of considerable business across the world. Turning the electronic mail into printed letters and sending them to recipients across the country through the local postal network would not only enhance revenue for the postal service but also add a personal touch to keep in touch with relatives and friends who are not PC savvy.
This is all the more beneficial in the context of Pakistan where the majority of population live in rural and far flung areas where many people have not access to electricity, not to talk of PCs. Moreover, a large number of Pakistani expatriates working in foreign lands hail from rural and far flung places which require considerably longer postal delivery time. The service would help lessen the delivery time considerably to help these expatriates keep in touch with the near and dear ones.
The blending of latest email technology with old, but tested and tried postal, delivery system is not only innovative but also addresses the ground realities of a Pakistani society where a large number of rural population still has no access to power and PCs. It makes all the more sense as the big segment of this rural population has no means to acquire even the basic computer operating skills to keep in touch with their loved ones by email.
The service has also the potential to motivate the rural population to start learning basic computer operating skills. It can help motivate many develop the basic skills to send emails, or eletters, themselves through an old, but working, PC in their area of residence. The potential is certainly immense.
Another encouraging aspect of Mail-my-mail service is that it realizes the importance of written word, and paper culture, in a country which reels from high literacy rate. Combining the convenience of email with real-letter delivered to one's door step, particularly when that doorstep is located in a rural area, in a country like Pakistan should be appreciated for bringing an otherwise big majority of population into the technet which thus far has remain untouched with the modern times. It will also allow it to experience the benefits of the technology even it means cutting down the delivery time of letters from its loved ones outside the country by half.