Cheri McMaster, 41, of Milford, Ohio, is happy she won't hear the plop of a new Cincinnati Bell residential White Pages book on her doorstep this June. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio granted the phone company's request in February to offer residential White Pages by request.
"I'm a person who recycles the White Pages the moment it arrives," she says. "I do everything on my BlackBerry or computer."
As more consumers go online or to their cellphones for numbers, some major directory providers are moving to request-only delivery of their printed residential White Pages and focusing on Web directories.
Cincinnati Bell spokeswoman Lisa McLaughlin says the company has also been approved for request-only delivery in Kentucky. AT&T has also been approved for request-only delivery in Ohio, and has requests pending in Missouri, Florida and North Carolina, AT&T spokesman Fletcher Cook says.
Most phone companies and publishers still put out residential White Pages because the majority of states' public utilities commissions require them to, says Dennis Fromholzer, president of CRM Associates, which studies the Yellow Pages industry. Providers in those states need permission to make delivery changes, he said.
AT&T began its Residential White Pages Consumer Choice Program in Austin and Atlanta in December, Cook says. Those states didn't require a request to run the program, he says. So far, Cook says less than 3% of residents in those cities have requested printed White Pages.
AT&T is the largest phone directory provider in the country. It about 40% of the market, says Fromholzer.
Idearc, the second-largest phone directory provider, prints Verizon's directories. Idearc isn't moving to request-only delivery of their White Pages, CEO Scott W. Klein says.
"There are different wants and needs in various parts of the country," he says. "We want to make sure we're providing for those who want a printed book."
R.H. Donnelley, the third-largest phone directory producer, does directories for the Quest and EMBARQ phone systems. Donnelley has experimented with delivering smaller community directories in Denver, Chicago, Phoenix, Minneapolis and Portland, Ore., instead of delivering the larger city directories, spokesman Pete Larmey says.
Many seniors and residents in rural towns with little or no Internet access rely on printed White Pages, says Marietta Stanley, 65, of Columbus, Ohio. "As a senior citizen, not all of us have computers," Stanley says. "I rely on White Pages to reach friends and find addresses."