International Handbook of Network Industries
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International Handbook of Network Industries

The Liberalization of Infrastructure

Edited by Matthias Finger and Rolf W. Künneke

This extensive, state-of-the-art Handbook provides a comprehensive overview of the various experiences of liberalization across different sectors, regions and disciplines.
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Chapter 19: Liberalization in the Postal and Delivery Sector

Michael A Crew and Paul R Kleindorfer


Michael A. Crew and Paul R. Kleindorfer INTRODUCTION AND ORIGINS OF LIBERALIZATION IN THE POSTAL SECTOR Modern postal service began with the reforms originating with the Penny Post proposed by Sir Rowland Hill in his famous 1837 pamphlet ‘Post Office Reform: Its Importance and Practicability’.1 Prepayment by means of a stamp was a significant innovation in 1840. For the price of a stamp, delivery anywhere in the country was provided. The twin notions of ubiquitous delivery and uniform price have been essential aspects of the modern postal service since the ‘Penny Black’ was first issued in 1840. Major steps in improving and automating mail and parcel processing operations occurred during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. However, the major revolution in postal and delivery services did not occur until the second half of the twentieth century. At the end of the twentieth century, a wave of technological advances based on innovations in optical fiber and information technologies began to transform infrastructure industries. The importance of integrating the hitherto isolated postal sector with other communication technologies led to the recognition of the necessity to rethink the governance and regulation of postal service providers. Some would suggest that this process began with the laws that changed national post offices into more independent, ‘businesslike’ government agencies, for example, the Post Office Act of 1969 in the UK and the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970 in the USA. Others would point to the division of ministries for post, telephone, and telegraph (PTTs) into separate postal...

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