It's The Law: AT&T Has To Give You A Phonebook

from the thanks,-government dept

AT&T has been testing a plan to distribute residential phone books on CD, rather than on paper. That sounds like a great idea that marries environmental benefits with cost savings, and could probably be taken a step further by only distributing the white pages in any format on request. Yellow-pages publishers are struggling as the web steals away their audience, and it's hard to imagine the white pages gets much use any more, either. But there's at least one obstacle standing in the way of the elimination of the white pages: laws in some states that require the company to publish and deliver a residential directory to every one of its customers. I'm hard pressed to remember the last time I used the white pages, and given that they don't list cell phone numbers, they're growing more and more irrelevant to many people. Burdening the phone companies with their production and distribution seems pretty pointless these days, not to mention the environmental impact of millions of the books, the vast majority of which are never used, and only a small portion of which are recycled.

Filed Under: laws, phonebook, waste
Companies: at&t


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  1. identicon
    grapeshot, 24 Feb 2009 @ 10:21am

    Very Young People Here

    Cell phone usage is way up, no doubt, but not everyone has one, nor has everyone who has one also ditched their land line. Just try living through a several day long power outage, and you'll immediately see the benefit of a land-line. And just because it's never happened to you before, doesn't mean it won't ever happen to you. Only people who are very inexperienced at life think that bad things will never happen to them.

    I'm with the people who point out that on-line yellow pages and search sites are of very limited use. They not only take longer to deliver results (i.e. turn on the computer, enter the search term, sort through the results) but they also provide incomplete results. Even something as obvious and simple as looking for pizza delivery provides incomplete results, or results for areas well out of my geographic boundaries. (like, say, several towns away, or even in a different state.)

    I still use both the yellow pages and the white pages (and the government pages) as frequently as I've ever done in the past. Yes, it's a nuisance to try and find people who have ditched their land-line, but on-line searches don't work well for them, either. Nothing beats a phone book for speed and reliability of results, not to mention ease of browsing. Despite all the whining here, phone books are still commonly used by most households, and businesses.

    A CD would be a pretty big handicap for that percentage of the population that doesn't have computers, or isn't on-line. This is not an inconsiderable amount of people. The ccallousness and indifference of the people here in this forum to those who for whatever reason (age or economics, say) are unable to keep up with the digital revolution is pretty astonishing. Having nearly complete agreement with the author's point by commentators here does not actually prove the author correct, as this is an audience with a fairly limited perspective.

    As for getting rid of the books that one doesn't need, well, that's just one small thing on the list of life's annoyances. In my state, recycling is mandated, and every community provides curbside recycling. It hasn't been any more difficult for me to get rid of my old phone books as it is for me to get rid of all my junk snail mail -- which actually is considerably more in quantity and weight than the phone books I get rid of.

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