Verizon can halt mass distribution of yellow pages and business white pages phone books in Pennsylvania.
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission approved an order on Aug. 31 allowing Verizon to discontinue saturation deliveries of the phone books. The regulatory commission eased the requirements on the distribution of residential phone books in 2010.
As part of the commission's order, Verizon has agreed to ship free phone books or thumb drives with residential and business directory information to residents who ask for them. State officials also granted regulatory relief on phone books to CenturyLink, a legacy phone company like Verizon, which serves several counties in rural central and western Pennsylvania.
But DexYP, which prints and distributes Verizon and CenturyLink phone books, said Thursday that this won't be the the end of the line for printed directories. Many Pennsylvania residents will continue to receive the ad-supported yellow pages and white pages as the company targets those people most likely to use them. Both listings are contained in one book.
"It's not complete deregulation. It allows us to manage the decline of the product," Mike Konidaris, DexYP's director of print services, distribution, telephone company relations, and listing acquisitions, said Thursday.
DexYP will not severely cut distribution of the yellow and white pages books but will "over-deliver" because the printed directories still have value for consumers, Konidaris said. He cited a survey which estimated that 35 to 40 percent of adults use them nationally.
Neighborhoods targeted for continued delivery of the phone books will be based on advertising, usage of the phone numbers in the business directories, and demographic data, Konidaris said.
DexYP says that printed phone books still have value for certain consumers and businesses that advertise in them. New yellow pages and white pages books will be distributed in Philadelphia this month and will not be affected by the commission's August order, he said.
Recent years also have brought hard times as consumers replaced landlines with smartphones — the numbers of which are not publicly listed — and now search Google, Yelp, and other online sites for local businesses' information once contained in the printed books.
Yellow pages books nationwide have lost 40 percent of their advertising over the last 15 years, according to industry estimates.
Verizon and CenturyLink told Pennsylvania regulators that they have sought to curtail printed phone directories in 39 states, including New Jersey and Delaware, and 800 markets but have seen minimal complaints. Verizon said that less than 1 percent of its phone customers in Pennsylvania requested the white pages residential directories — sacred household references for decades — five years after it halted saturation deliveries.
"I haven't used the yellow pages for 20 years," Steve DeShong, owner of 10th Street Hardware in Center City, said Thursday. "We started tossing them like 20 years ago. I haven't had a landline since 2004. We have young employees who think a landline is a joke."
Verizon and CenturyLink are required to tell customers of the changes in bill inserts, including how to request printed copies or thumb drives. The phone companies also have to inform the Office of Consumer Advocate and the Small Business Advocate on the transition.