As businesses big and small wire themselves into high-speed electronic communications systems, their reliance on traditional mail will inevitably lessen. In the long run, that could leave the U.S. Postal Service, with its 40,000 branches, 780,000 employees and $50 billion annual budget, as one giant piece of roadkill on the information highway.

While the total volume of mail delivered by the post office has actually risen 5% since 1988, business-to-business mail during that same period dropped an alarming 33%. Most of that, the post office acknowledges, has been lost to fax machines, E-mail and electronic funds transfers. Among the many...

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