IBM will use the Internet and radio-frequency-identification tags to improve the speed of international mail through 36 countries around the globe, including the United States. It also will monitor those countries for delivery efficiency. More than 500,000 test letters will be sent between the 36 countries. International Post wants to have the system fully operational by 2005.
Many of the test letters will carry an RFID tag so that International Post can see how long a letter is in its country of origin, in the recipient country, and in transit. About 3,000 people will participate in the test.
Quality-measurement reports will assist postal operators to react quickly if the service doesn't live up to international standards. For example, in Europe, three days is the norm, IBM says. Within Europe, the quality measurements will be used to calculate terminal dues--rewards for the high-performing postal operators.