White pages latest casualty of Internet

To get one, you'll have to ask

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Verizon figures most people aren't using the residential white pages anymore to look up their friends' phone numbers. Effective next year, the communications company will ship the heavy books in Pennsylvania only to those who specifically ask for one.

The company sent a letter to the state Public Utility Commission last month laying out the plan.

Verizon is in the process of making similar changes in other states as well and has received approval from Delaware officials, said company spokesman Lee Gierczynski. Virginia officials are considering the issue.

Pennsylvania rules do not appear to require specific approval, Mr. Gierczynski said, but part of making the new practice go smoothly will involve clearly communicating the change.

"In recent years, customer use of white pages directories has decreased dramatically," he said, noting that people now have options such as online services that didn't exist when the first directories were distributed more than a century ago.

He said a recent Gallup survey showed usage had dropped to 11 percent as of 2008.

The change should save about 2,200 tons of paper in Pennsylvania alone, Mr. Gierczynski said.

More than 600,000 white page directories are typically distributed in the Greater Pittsburgh area each spring.

Customers shouldn't expect an end to phone book deliveries on their doorsteps, though.

SuperMedia, which prints and distributes the phone books associated with Verizon, will continue to give business white pages directories and yellow pages directories to Pennsylvanians. "Books are still going to be delivered," said Andy Shane, spokesman for the Dallas company.

Asked if the business white pages directories would be smaller now that residential numbers won't be included, Mr. Shane hesitated. "We're increasing the font size," he said. Some people had a hard time reading the small type in earlier versions.

Other versions of yellow pages also are distributed in this region and Verizon is not involved in those businesses.

In addition to making a directory available to those who request one, Mr. Gierczynski said the company will post Pennsyl vania numbers in the next few months at www.verizon.com/white-pages.

Verizon will unveil a plan early next year that will include a toll-free telephone number so customers who want a traditional directory or CD-Rom version of the directory can request one.

Teresa F. Lindeman: tlindeman@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2018.


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