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White Pages Phone Books Fading Away

You may not be able to let your fingers do the walking much longer, at least to find local home telephone numbers. In response to the decline of traditional landlines and the increase in Internet use, some phone companies are putting a stop to the automatic delivery of residential white pages. An added advantage: They save on printing and distribution costs while addressing environmental concerns.

AT&T, among others, has already introduced an “opt-in” program. “We have listened to our customers, and the feedback we received led us to decide we would rather give people the option to receive a print copy of their local directory than send it automatically to those who do not want it,” says Fletcher Cook, an AT&T spokesman.

But not all customers are plugged into the Web. “The digital divide does exist,” says Will Phillips, associate state director for advocacy for AARP Georgia. “Our members are less likely to have Internet access and more likely to rely on a landline. It could be a significant problem.”

Business white pages and the yellow pages are not affected. An insert in those directories will explain the opt-in choice.

Cathie Gandel is a freelance writer based in Bridgehampton, N.Y.

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