The end of the phone book in Hong Kong

Robert Clark
09 Nov 2009

The era of the phone book looks set to end in Hong Kong following a proposal from Ofta that carriers no longer be required to publish a print directory.

A survey by the telecom regulator found that 94% of Hong Kongers had never used the print White Pages or had not used it in the past year.

Currently all fixed-line operators are required to publish the White Pages or to make arrangements with incumbent PCCW, which issues the print directory in English and Chinese every two years.

Removing the requirement to issue the print phone book would also save paper, Ofta said.

The regulator has called for a consultation on the issue and also on the future of another pillar of the old telecom world – directory inquiries.

The directory inquiry (or DQ) service was the most popular means of obtaining telephone numbers, the Ofta survey found. 76.2% of respondents had used it at least once in the past year, and 62.2% said the service was very important or quite important.

Ofta said the service was used disproportionately by a small number of users – 99% make 10 or less calls a month – and has proposed a fee, or the introduction of in-call advertising, for additional calls. However, 59% of respondents told the survey they were not prepared to pay for the additional inquiries service.

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