- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 5, 2003

Americans won’t abandon e-mail as a key communication tool at work, even as the amount of spam continues to grow, a Silicon Valley e-mail research firm said.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Radicati Group said last week that the amount of legitimate e-mail sent and received at the workplace will increase almost as quickly as the amount of spam. But most workers will continue to use e-mail, particularly as a way to reduce the amount of postal mail they send and receive, the firm said.

Unsolicited commercial e-mail, or spam, will make up more than half of all e-mail sent this year, and that number could grow to 60 percent by the end of 2004, according to Gartner Inc., a Stamford, Conn.-based technology research firm.

Many analysts say the rise in spam, which is often offensive, deceptive or both, could prompt workplaces to replace e-mail with other forms of communication, such as instant messaging.

The Federal Trade Commission said earlier this year that spam threatens to “destroy the benefits of e-mail,” and many lawmakers are pushing for legislation designed to cut down on unsolicited e-mail.

“If nothing is done to deal with this problem, the miracle of the Internet is going to be undone,” Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said in a July speech promoting the creation of a national “do-not-spam” list modeled after the do-not-call registry designed to stop telemarketers.

But the Radicati Group said that workers have processed significantly more e-mail this year than in 2002, even amid the spam. This year, workers sent and received an average of 110 e-mails per day, most of it legitimate. In 2002, e-mail users handled just 61 messages per day at the workplace.

“While part of this growth can be attributed to spam, most of it is not spam-related and instead represents a legitimate increase in the amount of information exchanged via e-mail,” the Radicati Group said in its monthly Messaging Technology Report. The group interviewed 50 companies worldwide to get its results.

Though spam makes up more than half of all e-mail sent, the percentage that actually reaches in-boxes is small, because of the advancements in filtering technology, analysts said. The Radicati Group said that of the average 81 e-mails per day received by workers this year, about 19 are spam. By 2005, corporate e-mail users should expect about 67 spam messages per day, out of 239 total e-mails.

E-mail continues to be useful in the workplace, the Radicati Group said, because it is easier and faster than postal mail. Workers are increasingly using e-mail to attach large files such as white papers and presentations that have historically been sent through the mail.

Workers are not only sending more attachments via e-mail, but those attachments are expected to grow in size, the Radicati Group said. The average person sent or received about 5 megabytes of e-mail in 2002. That figure is expected to grow to more than 42 megabytes in 2005.

The Radicati Group acknowledged that spam will increase and remain a nuisance to e-mail users. The group said companies should consider using filtering systems to block unwanted e-mail.

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