As a Netflix subscriber, I have always been both impressed and puzzled by the speed with which the movies zip through the postal system. Drop one in the slot for a late afternoon pickup, and the chances are that in the pre-dawn hours of the next day an email will appear saying that it has been received, even when the slot is in Red Lodge, MT, next to the wilderness that adjoins Yellowstone National Park. Considering the haphazard experiences usually associated with USPS, it does raise a question "how do they do that, for a million movies per day?"
Game company Gamefly had the same question, so in 2009 it filed a complaint with the regulators charging favoritism by USPS. Netflix had to respond, and in doing so it provided some interesting insights into its business practices.
Digital Society doesn't usually spend a lot of time thinking about the Post Office, but there are two reasons why this taleis interesting and relevant.
The first is that Gamefly's complaint is in essence a net neutrality question. USPS is a network, and by statute it has a monopoly on certain kinds of communications, including the use of mailboxes. This is the strongest possible case for neutrality – it would hard to justify allowing USPS to make a deal with Netflix to exclude Blockbuster – so the issue creates a useful context for thinking about neutrality issues.
The second is that USPS (and UPS & FedEx & other services) are broadband carriers.