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PUC: CenturyLink Phone Books Available On Demand

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CenturyLink customers will soon receive phone books on demand, rather than receiving them every year without asking, according to a declaratory ruling made Tuesday, Jan. 19, by the Public Utilities Commission.

Customers who request phone books can put in a standing order, rather than having to ask every year.

CenturyLink, parent company of Qwest, contracts with Dex for phone books. The publisher has been transitioning away from paper phone directories and moving toward digital lists online.

Two weeks ago, those companies asked the PUC to allow online directories to meet state requirements, which specify that phone companies have to provide listings to customers.

But commissioners said not everyone has access to computers or cell phones, and the high population of the elderly are particularly not inclined to go online.

PUC Commissioner Kristie Fiegen offers assurances that the change won't be drastic.

"I just want to make sure, Mr. Chairman, that customers know, in the State of South Dakota, that I actually believe our rural carriers will continue to print phone books," Fiegen says. "And this isn't something that's going to happen overnight. It might happen in CenturyLink territory, and there are still phone books... there will be other phone books available, probably, in CenturyLink area, but this isn't something that's going to--I don't think--impact a lot of our rural customers."

PUC Chairman Chris Nelson says the state's administrative rule requires access to a local directory, and the PUC's action complies with that requirement. He says Dex and CenturyLink can try on-demand phone books for a couple of years and ask for an amendment later if necessary.

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