USPS announced the following in its MailPro news:
Good news for Priority Mail Commercial Plus customers – a brand new product for January 2011 – Critical Mail.
This new offering is an attractive marketing tool that will help companies and organizations attract and retain customers. Critical Mail will travel in the automation mailstream, a proven method for fast, consistent time-in-transit delivery performance.
To qualify, customers must have a customer commitment agreement with the Postal Service and mail 5,000 or more Critical Mail letters and/or flats during a calendar year. Critical Mail is charged one price across all destination zones regardless of weight — $3.50 for letters and $4.25 for larger flat-sized envelopes.
To sweeten the Critical Mail deal, optional electronic Delivery Confirmation service, which allows customers to confirm delivery, is included for free.
All pieces must be automation compatible, which means letters cannot exceed 3 ounces or ¼ of an inch thickness and flats cannot exceed 13 ounces or ¾ of an inch thickness.
USPS-produced Critical Mail envelopes, which have an attractive design that drives an “open-first” behavior, must be used. The envelopes are available to authorized customers only by calling USPS Expedited Packaging Supplies at 1-800-610-8734. Pre-orders for Critical Mail packaging start on Dec. 13, 2010, and order shipments begin Dec. 27.