Frontier plans to end “global” telephone directory distribution

Starting with the manual switchboard and moving through rotary telephones and telephone booths, the pace picked up from the relics of the telephone industry recorded in the history books.

In Connecticut, the question is whether the phone book will be the next to go – or at least piles of unwanted phone books are piling up in recycling centers.

In early 2017, Frontier Communications asked New York regulators to allow it to end “general distribution” in its remarks on Empire State phone books, citing a similar permission granted to Verizon Communications there. .

A Frontier spokesperson could not immediately say Wednesday whether the company has applied for or will seek permission from the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority for permission to do the same in its home state.

“Technological advancements in the telecommunications industry (eg Internet directories) have made customers much less dependent and interested in printed directories,” Jan VanDeCarr, Frontier’s government relations manager in New York City, wrote in the request. of the company in New York State. Public Service Commission. “In addition, the printed directories do not include individuals or businesses who now use wireless devices, nor lists of individuals who subscribe to cable and VoIP services through providers that no longer submit telephone numbers. their customers’ phone for inclusion in directories. “

In New York City, Frontier plans to continue to offer free on-demand phone book delivery, which customers can request in-store and in Connecticut online at or by calling 1-800-900-7524.

Frontier is based in Norwalk and has its Eastern Operations Headquarters in New Haven, which has a place in history as the home of the first telephone book, published February 21, 1878. The single 5×8 sheet Inches included 11 residences, the police station, three doctors, two dentists and around 30 other businesses ranging from fishmongers to stables for drivers of horses and carriages.

Today’s “local buying guide” distributed by Frontier in Fairfield County is approximately 600 pages long, split evenly between home phone numbers and business listings on the “yellow page”.

While more and more people are relying on their web browsers or mobile phones to find phone numbers and business listings, for many, the phone book remains a key part of the household, including when they need it. emergency. For many businesses, it also remains an important source of year-round advertising.

But printing and distributing phone books also comes with monetary and environmental costs – in its New York filing, Frontier says its phone books require 12 tons of paper per year, and cites a study that found that only 6% of recipients use white pages. to search for residence numbers.

Frontier spent $ 2 billion in October 2014 to acquire AT & T’s former landline operations in Connecticut, the company having been founded in 1935 as Citizens Utilities and adopting the Frontier name in 2008. The Frontier brand was established in 1994 to replace the old Rochester. Telephone Co., an independent operator in upstate New York at Bell operating system companies nationwide.

While many customers would like not to have to recycle phone books they don’t intend to use, a handful of Frontier customers in New York have raised concerns with the Service Commission. State of New York, including Mary Ann Huck of the historic Frontier base in Rochester. .

“A lot of us use our directories at least once a week,” Huck wrote in a handwritten letter dated March 28. “Please take into consideration that a significant percentage of the population does not have access to (the) Internet.”

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Marvin M. Moreno

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