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Hybrid mail is mail that is delivered using a combination of electronic and physical delivery. Usually,[according to whom?] it involves digital data being transformed into physical letter items at distributed print centres located as close as possible to the final delivery addresses. An email letter (also L-mail and letter mail) is a letter which sent as an email using a computer then printed out and delivered as a traditional (physical) letter. It is a communication means between the virtual cyber- and the material real world. The printer or mail transfer agent prints the electronic mail on paper, the mail transport agent packs it into an envelope and the mail delivery agent or postman delivers it to the receiver's mailbox. Generally there is a fee for this service; however very small amounts and single email letters may be free of charge depending on the service provider and generally fees are much lower than directly sending mail or using a franking machine.[according to whom?]
There is some evidence[peacock term] that posts are increasingly using hybrid mail solutions in the developing world to leapfrog historic lack of investment in up-to-date infrastructure and service quality.[according to whom?] This is similar to a country without an extensive land line phone network moving directly to a mobile phone network.[according to whom?] Developments in technology are often used by private companies to fill gaps in public postal service. In the UK, there has been a mushrooming of service providers because of the particular regulatory conditions which require Royal Mail to offer advantageous downstream access postal rates to providers of hybrid services.
There are also reverse systems[according to whom?], where handwritten letters can be delivered as email. This mail scanning service, sometimes called letter email, is increasingly popular[according to whom?] with businesses and individuals who wish to access their mail from another country. However, special care must be taken to inspect local laws and the service provider's scanning practices to ensure that they are not reading the mail or acting on behalf of the client from a legal standpoint.