Two of the world’s largest email providers, AOL and Yahoo, have revealed plans to charge companies for a premium delivery email service.

The new system would operate in much the same way as the Royal Mail service, which offers first and second-class delivery.

It would mean companies would be charged to ensure that their emails reach consumers even if spam filter were turned on.

Almost identical to the Royal Mail’s system of guaranteed delivery, the new method would see companies such as banks pay a fee amounting to a fraction of a penny to ensure that an email would arrive promptly.

It would effectively mean the creation of a two-tier internet service in which companies see their mail whiz around the globe while ordinary customers would be subject to late or lost mail as the price for a free service.

An AOL spokesman told the Times: “We want e-mails sent using the technology to have a stamp of authentication, so that consumers know that an e-mail that appears to be from a bank really is from that bank.

“We think that will help cut down on spam, but we don’t want consumers to pay any extra.”

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