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Post office gives up on wireless service

In the end it was neither rain nor sleet nor hail, but rather a lack of interest that doomed the U.S. Postal Service's foray into the world of wireless devices.

In the end it was neither rain nor sleet nor gloom of night, but rather a lack of interest that doomed the post office's foray into the world of wireless devices.

The U.S. Postal Service plans next month to discontinue a service that let customers check a ZIP code or track a package on wireless devices such as Palm handhelds and cell phones.

"This pilot effort did not find the support among our customers to make it a viable offering," the postal service said on its Web site. A representative of the agency was not immediately available for comment.

The wireless services will remain available until April 7, the agency said on its site. The service worked on wirelessly equipped Palm and Pocket PC-based handhelds as well as BlackBerry pagers and Web-enabled cell phones.

Meanwhile, package-delivery rival UPS said it is expanding its wireless services to more countries. Last month the company added access in several Asian countries, bringing to 35 the number of countries in which it offers wireless information. UPS wireless services include calculating shipping rates, tracking packages and finding UPS drop-off locations.

"We think that wireless is the wave of the future and we definitely expect demand for wireless service to continue to grow," said UPS spokeswoman Laurie Mallis. UPS began offering wireless access to information in Europe in 1999, before expanding to the United States and Asia.

FedEx also offers services similar to the ones the post office is discontinuing.

The post office has been grappling with ways to enter the information age, including weighing a plan that would give e-mail accounts to all Americans.