Internet ends automatic delivery of White Pages
calgaryherald.com – business – Some groups worry about accessibility
June 4, 2010. By Eva Ferguson, Calgary Herald
Canada-wide delivery of the White Pages — the residential phone listings Canadians have depended on for more than 130 years — has been halted in larger urban centres, now provided only upon request.
First delivered on the Canadian east coast in 1879, the traditional phone book has been displaced by the Internet, with websites like Canada411 now the most common way to find who you’re looking for.
Residents in Calgary, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Edmonton, Ottawa and Quebec City will now have to call their telephone provider to get a copy specially delivered.
Yellow Pages Group, Canada’s largest print, online and mobile directory provider, launched the initiative in response to what they call “changing user habits” around the way people look for residential numbers.
“An increasing number of Canadians, particularly in urban areas, use our online and mobile resources YellowPages.caand Canada411.cato find residential phone numbers,” said Marc P. Tellier, president and CEO of Yellow Pages Group.
The Yellow Pages will still arrive on doorsteps this fall, with one in every two Canadians continuing to use them to find a business. And along with the yellow book will be information on how to order a free copy of the White Pages as well, for those who want it.
“Our priority with the residential directory is to make listings available to all users in the format of their choice,” Tellier said.
In 2005, the organization implemented a 24-month distribution cycle of the residential directory in select Canadian cities, with residents having to request a directory during non-distribution years.
The resulting demand for the residential directory averaged below one per cent while searches for personal phone numbers on Yellow Pages online properties have almost doubled since the program’s inception.
But for seniors and the poor, that may not be the case, as many of them don’t use the Internet.
“This would put the poor in a place where again they are more marginalized, where it’s standard that everybody has a computer and high-speed Internet, but they don’t,” said Robert Perry, senior director internal operations for the Calgary Urban Project Society.
More than 12 per cent of Calgarians are living below the poverty line, he noted, and for many of them, even getting a phone can be a challenge.
Perry added the disappearance of the phone book will also hurt those who may be stuck out of the house, at a store or a gas station, and they need to find a phone number but they won’t have access to a computer. “What happens then? You’re hosed.”
Andrew Kohsel, a member of the Coalition of Seniors Advocates, says many seniors who depend on the phone book to find family and friends will definitely be affected.
“Nothing gets their attention more than when something gets cut short,” Kohsel said.
“I think a lot of them will be ordering it to still come.”
Kohsel said seniors will use the white pages to find the name of someone, a phone number, as well as an address.
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