Anttila is an area of scattered settlement in the southern town of Porvoo. Delivery of standard mail to the area presumably is expensive for the postal service. The new experiment is an attempt to reduce the cost of delivering mail as well as to reduce energy consumption.
Test volunteers will receive an e-mail message or a mobile phone text message when their mail has been opened, scanned and converted to a PDF file. The recipient will then need to log onto a safe and secure digital mailbox, to which only the recipient has access. Once logged in, the recipient will be able to read the letter or bill or other document in a web browser. If desired, the recipient can also print a copy on his or her local printer. The mailbox web site reportedly is as safe and secure as online banking.
Itella plans to later forward the (opened) letters to the recipients but only twice a week. Fewer weekly visits by the mailman means reduced energy consumption and lower expenses.
The announcement of the experiment has produced mixed comments in Finnish online message boards. Finland is a very high tech nation, with more cellular phones and more Internet usage per capita than the United States. Finland's residents also enjoy much faster and cheaper Internet access than do the customers of any in-home Internet service in the U.S.
Many users welcomed the new experiment. However, not everyone agrees. One anonymous commenter wrote, "Itella is doing in Finland what the KGB did in its time in the Soviet Union and the Stasi in East Germany. Itella is reading people's private mail."
The test covers only one small rural area and has produced 126 volunteers so far.
This service isn't new. In fact, similar services have been available in the United States for years from Commercial Mail Receiving Agencies, such as those found in local shopping plazas. The forwarding-by-email services are popular with people who live full time in recreational vehicles as well as for those who spend part of a year in another state or even in another country. Forwarding postal mail by email has proven to be an effective method of receiving bills and personal correspondence without having to change a forwarding address at the post office every few days. You can see one such service at http://www.myrvmail.com/