- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 21, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The annual arrival of a fat phone book on Minnesota doorsteps may soon be a thing of the past.

The state Public Utilities Commission has proposed letting companies deliver residential phone directories electronically, sending customers a phone book only if they ask for one. The commission has already granted a few phone companies the ability to do that in recent years, and other states have done the same.

Companies had complained to the commission that printing the White Pages took too much time, paper and money - especially for a product that many people toss in the garbage, said Dan Wolf, the commission’s executive secretary.

Dex Media, in 2013 comments to the commission, said 20 states and Washington, D.C., had already relaxed their paper phone book delivery requirements.

Frontier Communications convinced the commission to let it switch to the opt-in White Pages method in 2012, said spokeswoman Andrea Fast. Less than half of 1 percent of the company’s customers in Minnesota now get a paper phone book.

Fast said many of the customers who do still get phone books from Frontier are older and may not have reliable Internet access.

The new proposal, which is open for public comments and requests for hearings until Feb. 19, gives phone companies and their customers more flexibility, Wolf said.

“As we all know, there are a lot more ways to receive directory information than there used to be,” he said.

There are also a lot more cellphone numbers, which aren’t listed in the White Pages. And several directories already have online presences.

The rule change would still require companies to produce one directory a year. They’d also have to reach out to customers and make sure they wouldn’t miss a paper phone book before nixing the delivery, Wolf said.

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