for web-based public e-mail service
by the Internet Society of China (ISC)
The e‑mail service is a basic Internet application service. As a
speedy, efficient and low‑cost means of communication, e‑mail
facilitates the on-line exchange of information and communication between
Internet users and offers companies additional business opportunities. However,
the advantages of e‑mail are being crippled by network misuse, for example
spam. The security, reliability and quality of the e‑mail service suffer
from the lack of clearly-defined service standards. Faced with this problem, the
Internet Society of China (ISC) has drafted the present standards by working
together with network service providers and e‑mail service providers, with
the aim of setting up a standardized mechanism for the e‑mail service in
order to facilitate the growth of e‑mail service providers and users and
ensure a better quality service to netizens.
The present standards are applicable to public e‑mail service
providers such as members of either ISC or local Internet societies, as well as
other entities that will observe the standards and wish to be supervised.
The present standards include provisions governing the e‑mail
service process as well as provisions and quality indicators related to system
operation, maintenance and customer service.
E‑mail service providers shall, as far as applicable, formulate
their own detailed rules for implementation on the basis of these standards and
bring into place a sound service quality control system.
The various indicators mentioned in the standards shall not be applicable
to any that cannot be predicted, avoided or surmounted objectively.
As the enforcement organ of the present standards, ISC maintains the
right to adjust the service index items to be measured and to modify the quality
indicators according to the requirements of the e‑mail service providers
and users and changes in overall service quality. ISC is also responsible for
the supervision and control of the implementation of the standards.
2 Definitions and abbreviations
as referred to in the present text designates the means whereby an electronic
message is conveyed over the Internet; the message may include such contents as
text, image, audio or video. Each mailbox used for sending and receiving
e‑mail has a unique e‑mail address over the Internet. The typical
format of an e‑mail address is username@domain
2.2 Basic e-mail services
e‑mail services refer to the basic services related to an electronic
mailbox offered to its users by an e‑mail service provider, including:
a unique permanent e‑mail account on the Internet,
the basic e‑mail sending and receiving functions,
temporary storage of the e‑mail at the server end,
an anti-spam function and the obligation to inform the user of the
disposal of the spam.
2.3 E-mail value-added services
value-added services refer to the services other than the basic e‑mail
services provided by a service provider to its users based on their e‑mail
instant message alerts
other e‑mail value-added services
encrypted e‑mail transmission
2.4 Internet information service
information service providers are mainly service providers who provide Internet
users with information and services for a fee, for example homepage development.
(Redundant Array of Independent Disks) is a technology used to enable better
storage performance than a single hard disk as well as to provide data
(Post Office Protocol) is an electronic protocol that specifies the connection
between a personal computer and an e‑mail server on the Internet and for
(Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) is a set of rules which govern the transmission
of mail from the source address to the destination address and which are
intended to control the transit mode of mail.
(hereinafter referred to as web) is an http-based accessible website that sends
and receives e‑mails and provides user profile management.
3 Qualifications and practice
conditions for e‑mail service providers
service providers are telecommunication service providers, telecommunication
value-added service providers and Internet information service providers that
allow e‑mail users to send, receive or read e‑mails in accordance
with the law. They should have the necessary qualification certificates and
satisfy the conditions of practice.
In order to engage in operational Internet information services, a
potential e‑mail service provider should file an application for a
telecommunication value-added business licence for Internet information services
with the telecommunication authority of the province, autonomous region or
municipality concerned or with the competent administration of the information
industry under the State Council. In order to engage in non-operational Internet
information services, one should notify the telecommunication authority of the
province, autonomous region or municipality concerned or the competent
administration of the information industry under the State Council.
Other qualification certificates required under national or local law or
by the telecommunication administration should be prepared.
The e‑mail service provider shall have, in line with its scale of
business, professional staff for system operation and maintenance, customer
care, technical support and management.
The e‑mail service provider shall, in line with its scale of
business, equip itself with the appropriate network environment and hardware as
well as a machine room to house the e‑mail service equipment.
The e‑mail service provider shall provide its service by using
self-developed, purchased or rented e‑mail system software that respects
copyright, or by using open source systems.
4 Commitments of e‑mail
E‑mail service providers shall ask their users to provide true
information for their profile used to decide the owner of a mailbox. In cases
where the information provided by the user is fictitious, false or incomplete,
the e‑mail service provider is entitled to deny the service.
E‑mail service providers are obliged to respect the confidentiality
of the e‑mail address, e‑mail content and personal information of
their users. They shall not divulge any user information in any form to third
parties without the consent of the users.
E‑mail service providers shall only provide information and
notification relevant to the e‑mail service. They shall not distribute
third-party commercial information to users without their consent.
If a service provider intends to terminate its e‑mail service to
users as a result of a change in the market, it shall inform its users well in
advance and provide them with a free transit service for one month as from the
date on which the termination takes effect (except in the case of force
5 Provisions governing the
e‑mail service process
The e‑mail service provider shall specify the service functions,
delivery time, tariffs, subscription fee collection method and payment schedule,
as well as the details of the after‑sale service available to anyone
subscribing to the service.
The e‑mail service provider shall establish with its users, in
written form or in online agreements, the rights and obligations of each party
before the service is provided.
When a user has a query concerning the service charge, the e‑mail
service provider shall offer every convenience required for checking and provide
adequate explanations as long as the billing data are stored. For any dispute
with a user, the e‑mail service provider shall have the responsibility of
maintaining all the relevant first-hand information and material until the
dispute is fully settled.
6 Provisions governing system
operation, maintenance and customer service
6.1 Provisions governing system
operation and maintenance
To ensure the routine operation and maintenance of the e‑mail
system with a view to providing secure and stable services, the e‑mail
service provider shall set up an operation and maintenance system with dedicated
professional operational and maintenance staff.
An effective and lasting monitoring and testing mechanism shall be
established in order to identify any quality issue pertaining to the operation
of the e‑mail system.
Maintenance process and contingency measures in particular shall be
defined in order to ensure the smooth operation of the system.
An e‑mail system must be reliable and secure. Crucial data shall be
backed up by RAID and other redundancy measures. User passwords shall be stored
using an encryption algorithm. An operation log shall be kept intact and a
session control/time‑out mechanism created.
The e‑mail system offered by a service provider shall be equipped
with an anti-spam function.
The e‑mail service provider shall inform the relevant users 24
hours prior to any system commissioning or network and software upgrades
expected to affect the users in their use of the system.
6.2 Provisions governing customer
The e‑mail service provider shall set up a long-term, stable,
convenient and effective customer service to ensure the service's regular use by
the users. Special customer service units shall be set up to deal with users'
queries and complaints concerning services and subscription fees.
The e‑mail service provide the shall provide the service to its
users through user-friendly approaches and channels, with a dedicated telephone
number, mailbox and website for customer service.
The e‑mail service provider has the obligation to inform its users
of any potential problems and possible solutions associated with the use of the
7 Quality indicators for system
operation and maintenance and customer service
7.1 Quality indicators for system
operation and maintenance
7.1.1 System maintenance time: at least
7.1.2 Average total failure time per
month: a maximum of 400 minutes
failure time per month means the aggregate of all the durations of failure
within a month.
total failure time per month = duration of service interruption caused by
failures*(number of users affected/total number of users)
7.1.3 Average total commissioning time
per month: a maximum of 500 minutes
commissioning time per month means the aggregate of all the durations when the
use of the system is affected due to commissioning.
total commissioning time per month = duration of service interruption*(number of
users affected/total number of users)
7.1.4 System availability rate: a
minimum of 99%
availability rate means the duration of system uptime each month in proportion
to the total length of time of the month in question.
7.1.5 Annual uptime: a minimum of 300
uptime means the total number of calendar days in a year when the users' use of
the system is not affected by any failure.
7.1.6 Billing error rate: a maximum of 3*10e-5
error rate refers to the number of user complaints on billing errors in
proportion to the total number of users charged.
7.1.7 Retention of data and log backup
Data mainly refers to such information as users' e‑mails.
service provider shall keep the data of its users permanently under storage.
When the data occupy more space than that specified by the service, the service
provider is obliged to remind the user to remove the data before new data are
taken up (unless otherwise agreed with the user).
service provider may clear away the mail and other information of a user when
the service to that user is terminated (unless otherwise agreed with the user).
Retention of log backup: 60 days
of log backup means that a user's web log-on record as well as SMTP/POP sign-on
and access record shall be kept for 60 days. When the service to the user is
terminated, the service provider may stop keeping such information (unless
otherwise agreed with the user).
7.1.8 E‑mail system sending delay: an average
of 10 minutes; a maximum of three hours
system sending delay refers to the duration required from the time at which a
user completes sending a mail (i.e. from the complete receipt of the mail by the
e‑mail system) via a client or web page to the start of the transmission
of the mail by the e‑mail system to the target post office.
7.1.9 E‑mail system receiving delay: an
average of 10 minutes; a maximum of three hours
system receiving delay refers to the duration required from the time at which a
mail is received completely from the source post office by the e‑mail
system to the time when the user is able to access the mail via the client or
web page (i.e. the e‑mail system has completed delivery of the mail to the
mailbox of the user).
7.1.10 Mean uptime rate: 99%
rate refers to the ratio between system uptime and system runtime.
7.1.11 Spam ratio
average number of spam messages in proportion to the total number of
e‑mails received by one user.
7.1.12 Regular e‑mail loss rate
number of regular e‑mails received intact from source post offices but
failed to be delivered to the users' mailbox by the e‑mail system in
proportion to the total number of regular e‑mails received intact from
source post offices.
Users shall be required by the e‑mail servers to do SMTP
E‑mail service providers shall turn off the open relay function of
all their e‑mail servers.
A service provider shall properly limit the frequency and total amount of
e‑mails that can be sent by a user in order to prevent abuse of the
service by spam senders.
7.2 Quality indicators for customer
Customer service time: a minimum of 5*8 hours attended service.
Response time to a user's e‑mail: any query or complaint from a
user received by the mailbox shall be answered within three working days
Average complaint processing time: any complaint from a user shall be
dealt with within five working days.
Customer service hotline (including voice and messaging services)
completion rate: a minimum of 80%
Customer service hotline (for complaint treatment) manual completion
rate: a minimum of 20%
Rate of satisfaction for complaint processing: a minimum of 80%
Retention of billing data: 6 months
Response rate to e‑mail complaints: a minimum of 80%
E‑mail complaint processing rate: a minimum of 80%
8 Assessment of e‑mail
The Internet Society of China takes the customer satisfaction index
(Class A, Class B, Class C and Class C−) as core indicators for
assessing the quality of service of the service providers. Evaluation of
customer satisfaction shall be conducted on a regular basis.
The evaluation group composed of the coordination group members and
industry experts shall carry out a random examination annually on the
implementation of the standards and shall investigate customer satisfaction in
terms of service quality offered by the implementing organizations.
E‑mail service providers shall be rated by the Internet Society of
China according to their capacity and quality of service. The result of the
rating shall be made available to the public.
9 Miscellaneous provisions
The interpretation of the standards lies with the Internet Society of
The standards shall take effect as from 1 September 2004.
Minimum : 99%
system sending delay
average 1 minute;
maximum 1 hour
average 5 minutes;
maximum 2 hours
average 10 minutes;
maximum 3 hours
system receiving delay
average 1 minute;
maximum 1 hour
average 5 minutes;
maximum 2 hours
average 10 minutes;
maximum 3 hours
time to e‑mail users
1 working day
2 working days
3 working days
complaint processing time
2 working days
3 working days
5 working days
service hotline completion rate
service hotline manual completion rate (complaint processing)
rate for complaint processing
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