Access mail is the main form of competition in the letters market in the UK and is facilitated by access to Royal Mail’s postal network. This means other bulk mail providers collect mail from businesses and other organisations, sort it and then insert it into Royal Mail’s network for delivery.
Access to Royal Mail’s postal network is currently regulated by Ofcom via the Universal Service Provider Access condition (USPA condition). The current USPA condition requires that Royal Mail provides services that are delivered within two working days from the sender posting (“D+2 access services”), and includes a margin squeeze control as well as other ancillary access obligations. Mandated D+2 access services ensure that, once an access item enters Royal Mail’s network, Royal Mail delivers that item to the recipient the next working day.
Royal Mail intends to introduce a new suite of access services (“D+5 Letters access services”) from 4 January 2021. The new services will defer the mail until there is another item already being delivered to the recipient’s address, subject to a maximum of four days after it enters the network.
Currently, these services fall outside the scope of the USPA condition. However, it is expected that they will be important services for access operators and could account for a material proportion of access volumes in the future. Consequently, we are of a preliminary view that D+5 Letters access services will be important in maintaining effective competition in bulk mail services, promoting efficiency within Royal Mail’s delivery operations and delivering benefits to users of postal services.
Consultation: Modifications of the USP Access Condition for regulating access to Royal Mail’s postal network