3 services offer free electronic mail to fighting forces

January 28, 1991|By Michael J. Himowitz | Michael J. Himowitz,Evening Sun Staff

If you have a relatives or friends serving in the Persian Gulf the fastest way to send them mail may be with your computer.

Three of the major on-line information services, Prodigy, Compuserve and GEnie, offer free electronic mail delivery to servicemen and women in the Gulf.

Typically, they forward your messages electronically to Saudi Arabia, where they're printed, stuffed into envelopes and delivered to military postal authorities.

The services claim that mail sent this way can reach the recipient in as little as three days, compared to weeks through regular air mail channels.

However, there are also some limitations. Messages must generally be one page or less, and Prodigy limits members to one Gulf message per day.

To send electronic mail, you'll need a modem and communications software. Prodigy and Compuserve require that you be a subscriber. But the best deal is through GEnie, which will send electronic mail for nonsubscribers, too.

Compuserve and Prodigy startup subscriptions are available almost anywhere software is sold. Often, they're bundled with other programs. There are local access numbers in most cities.

Sign-up fees vary with the package being offered. After that, Prodigy has a flat fee of $13 a month ($9.95 if you sign up for a year), while Compuserve charges $12 per hour for connect time.

Genie's hourly fee is $5 (but you don't have to subscribe to send mail to the Gulf). For voice information on how to subscribe or send Gulf mail on Genie, call 800-638-9636.

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