Phone book handouts no longer required in 4 areas


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Four urban Alaska areas could see an end to phone companies' automatic distribution of phone books with residential listings.

The Regulatory Commission of Alaska on Friday agreed with recommendations to stop the requirement. The information, the commission decided, is largely available on the Internet.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (http://bit.ly/W1ZMTJ ) reports that commissioners endorsed the change for deliveries on a three-year interim basis in Fairbanks, Anchorage, Juneau and the Kenai Peninsula.

Phone books will continue to be delivered to customers who request them.

State regulations previously required phone companies to automatically distribute white page directories.

In June 2011, Alaska Communications asked the regulatory commission for a rule change.

The commission postponed a decision for a year but then largely agreed with recommendations made by Administrative Law Judge John P. Wood in October.

Wood ruled that information found in residential white pages could be found on the Internet and that printed directories had become a source of customer irritation.

The decision only affects residential directories. Government pages, business white pages and yellow pages were not part of the case.

Alaska Communications lauded the decision.

Customer complaints about unwanted directories have increased, the company said. Nearly 15 million pages of residential listings were printed in 2011, according to the company, and reducing that number will benefit the environment.

"It's the right thing for our customers and the environment," said spokeswoman Heather Cavanaugh.

The next Alaska Communications white pages delivery in Fairbanks is scheduled for October. The company has not decided whether to immediately opt out of automatic distribution, Cavanaugh said.

GCI, another major land-line telephone company, also supported the change.

The RCA decision requires companies opting out of automatic deliveries to tell their customers and allow them to request phone books. Alaska Communications will plan a campaign to notify its customers of changes, Cavanaugh said.

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