Posted by: Lawyer Sanders | May 4, 2009

Kentucky environmental attorney Sanders says PSC ruling means beginning of end of white pages for local phone companies in Kentucky.

The Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) has decided that the Cincinnati Bell Telephone Co. can distribute printed White Pages directories only to those customers who make a specific request for the directories.  In an order issued, the PSC found the Cincinnati Bell plan meets the statutory requirement that certain phone companies continue to provide subscriber access to directories.

The PSC noted that Cincinnati Bell will make the contents of the directory available on the Internet, while existing and new customers who request a printed directory will receive one at no charge.

Cincinnati Bell also will provide free copies of the published directories at all of its retail stores in the Cincinnati area. The PSC encouraged the company to also consider making the directories available at non-Cincinnati Bell stores and businesses.

Cincinnati Bell provides telephone service in Boone, Campbell, Gallatin, Grant, Kenton and Pendleton counties in Northern Kentucky. Most of the company’s customers are in Ohio, primarily within Cincinnati, Dayton and surrounding areas. Cincinnati Bell is an incumbent local exchange carrier, which means that it owns and operates most of the telephone infrastructure within a defined service area. There are other telephone companies also providing service in Northern Kentucky.

 Those companies are known as competitive local exchange carriers and operate under “interconnection agreements” with Cincinnati Bell. The agreements govern their access to the Cincinnati Bell network.

 The interconnection agreements usually include provisions under which Cincinnati Bell supplies White Pages directories to the customers of the competitive carriers. It will be up to Cincinnati Bell and the competitive carriers to determine how White Pages will be provided to those customers in the future.

Cincinnati Bell is the first incumbent local exchange carrier in Kentucky to move away from traditional distribution methods for White Pages directories. In January of this year, the Ohio Public Utilities Commission approved a similar request covering Cincinnati Bell’s Ohio customers.

PSC’s order and other documents in the case are available on the PSC Web site, psc.ky.gov. The case number is 2009-00029.  It seems to me that Cincinnati Bell’s case makes good sense where internet access is available, but I question how folks in the middle of Pendleton County are going to find a phone number other than calling information and then being billed for the service.

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