Last company providing phone books in Lincoln is allowed to stop |

The printed phone book may soon be a thing of the past in Nebraska.

Love them or hate them, the “white pages” have landed on doorsteps across Lincoln for decades.

But the annual ritual is coming to an end.

The Nebraska Public Service Commission on Tuesday approved a waiver that will allow Windstream Communications to stop providing printed directories to thousands of customers in Lincoln and southeast Nebraska and instead fulfill its directory requirement with an online list of numbers.

This likely means that the latest folder delivered to homes will be the last.

Windstream spokesman Scott Morris said the printed phone book “no longer provides the same utility it once did.”

“Customers are now turning less to the phone book and instead to online and other resources for information,” Morris said in an email.


Richard Hummer uses the phone book to look up addresses while filling out applications at Nebraska Workforce Development on January 9, 2009.

He also said that reducing the number of printed folders is better for the environment and “reduces the demand on the currently strained paper supply.”

One person who will miss having a printed phone book is Eric Bigham.

The Lincoln man said he likes to have the phone book as a backup in case he can’t find a number online.

“Here’s the thing: phone books still have a place. Technology fails — it always does in one form or another (especially with consumer electronics today),” the Lincoln man said.

“Paper is very redundant and will never fail – except when it ages, gets water damaged or in a fire.”

Windstream will still need to print some folders and have them on hand for customers who want them, but it’s unclear how many people that will be.

Morris declined to say how many landline customers Windstream serves in Nebraska, but according to the PSC’s most recent annual report to the Nebraska Legislature, it was less than 75,000 per month. 30th of September. That was down more than 5,000 from a year earlier and down nearly 30,000 from five years ago.

Nationwide, the report listed fewer than 453,000 total landline customers among all carriers. This is a decrease from more than 1.1 million. in 2002.

Indeed, Windstream has been an outlier among the landline providers regulated by the PSC when it comes to printed directories.

The other two, CenturyLink and Frontier Communications, sought and received permission years ago to stop providing directories to their Nebraska customers unless they request them.

PSC spokeswoman Deb Collins said the commission “has not been made aware of any issues” with these companies since they began providing only printed directories to those who inquire.

Windstream is also seeking to stop providing the folders in other states where it provides service, including New York and its home state of Arkansas.


Ret Pennell, left, and Jill Arias take a long drink of water as they cool off before dropping off several phone books on August 16, 2007. Ret’s secret to beating the heat is eight bottles of water a day.

The PSC requires the company to notify its customers through notices in their printed bills for the next six months, as well as through an online notice posted on its customer portal. It will also be required to notify customers annually of the availability of printed directories.

The PSC’s decision may not mean the complete end of the phone books on the doorstep.

Morris said Windstream works with a third-party publisher to compile and print its directories, which include not only the white pages, but also a yellow pages directory of businesses that is also delivered to homes.

“It will be up to the publisher to decide whether it wants to continue printing the yellow pages,” he said.

People who still want a printed phone book can go to or call 800-347-1991.

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