Here in the UK, the big telco is British Telecommunications Ltd., otherwise known as BT. Every few years, it produces a physical telephone directory (“White Pages” for our North American cousins). Each house gets a free copy for the local area.
When the directory arrives on my doorstep it goes straight in the (recycling) bin.
It’s not because paper directories are an anachronism in the Internet era, it’s because despite living in a village less than 8 miles from the capital city of Northern Ireland, Belfast, BT thinks I would be better served by being in the South Eastern area. It’s a strange decision because my postal address says Belfast and the nearest South Eastern area town is actually further away by about a mile. Regardless, BT thinks a Belfast directory and listing would be no use to me or those looking for my number.
The last time I complained about this I was given utter twaddle about “aligning boundaries”. I know that it’s nonsense because I also know which council, constituency and healthcare authority I fall under and there’s no alignment of boundaries there as far as I can see.
However, I struggle to find a reason for this stupidity. Is it simply to keep the subscriber numbers up in a given area so that they can sell more advertising? I don’t know and I’m not going to lose any sleep over it. In the morning, I’m going to opt-out of receiving the telephone directory and I’m already ex-directory. Who needs a phone book in the Internet era when directory enquiries are but a mouse click away?
A recent article in the New York Times was trying to link the decline of landlines in homes as a result of a slowing economy. While it may be true that tighter home budgets pushed folks to trim the fat on things they don’t need, it is more to do with new technologies getting better. Cell phones are super popular choices for the main home phone with unlimited plans & shared minutes. Also skype and other VOIP services create a huge competitor to the old school home phones. I recently downgraded my alltel phone service to $40 from about $80. I only use it for the internet & I can still receive calls on the phone but it costs 10 cents a minute to call out. This has worked well but I wanted to reduce my cell bill also so I trimmed it down a bit also. But I have a daughter who shares minutes with me so I have to make sure I don’t go over on minutes. So last week I signed up for skype out which is only $2.95 per month! I can call any cell line or landline in the USA or Canada and I can get a wireless skype phone so I am not anchored to the laptop. I have not even checked into getting a skype number so people can call in to me. Why? First I can still use my home line & cell for that. More importantly without a number to call I don’t get bothered at home with people I do not want contacting me!