Royal Mail’s vast size presents a significant barrier to entry for rival
operators. This is especially true in delivery, where over its 350 year
history the company has built up a network that delivers to almost every
residential and business address in the country.
A key part of opening up the postal market for competition has been
allowing “access” to that delivery network.
Access means allowing mail users (usually big business users) and
licensed postal operators to make commercial agreements with Royal
Mail allowing them to use the company’s staff and facilities to carry post
for part of its journey.
For licensed operators, access can provide a launch pad to build up
their contacts with customers, as well as the volumes necessary to
consider developing an end-to-end (collection through to delivery)
network. For mail users, the benefit is a greater choice of operators –
and therefore more choice of products and services.
So far, access has been to Royal Mail’s local sorting centres, where mail
is sorted ready for final delivery. Mail users or postal operators would
collect and/or pre-sort mail before feeding it into Royal Mail’s systems at
these local sorting centres.
Royal Mail is required to negotiate “access agreements” with any
interested large mailer or rival licensed operator. These are commercial
agreements, negotiated independently of Postcomm - but if
organisations are unable to agree with Royal Mail a fair price for access,
we can intervene to ensure that it is made available on appropriate
The first access agreement was negotiated between Royal Mail and UK
Mail in 2004. Since then, more agreements have been set up and,
according to Royal Mail’s latest figures (December 2008), approximately
450 million items of mail per month are now handled under access
Royal Mail also applies zonal pricing to some of its access agreements
where it offers discounts to its customers (depends on the geographic
mix of delivery addresses).
- Postcomm’s website, for further information on
all aspects of the mail market and a glossary of postal terms,
including those relating to access
– Royal Mail’s website
- Royal Mail’s website for national
and zonal access services
Please contact Postcomm for a full list of titles available in this series
Postcomm is the independent regulator for postal services in the UK. This is one of
a series of fact sheets designed to provide background information on key issues
in the postal services sector. Contact us at 6 Hercules Road, London, SE1 7DB. Tel
020 7593 2100, Email
A large print version is available.
Please telephone: 020 7593 2100 or
© Crown copyright 2006
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