PRO: Phone companies should change business model; smart phones have prevailed

Aug. 22, 2011 at 3:22 a.m.

Lucy Medrano's phone book has been sitting in the same spot for the past several days - on a chair on her front porch.

Medrano has not really touched a phone book in several years. Even land lines and services like 4-1-1 are things of the past.

"I just think it's funny that people are so reluctant to give up the old," said Medrano, who is in her mid-50s.

Tyson Sowell, the program director for the Texas Campaign for the Environment in Houston, said the organization focuses more on e-waste. However, he said, unneeded printing is a waste of resources.

"We're glad someone is taking up the issue and looking into it," Sowell said.

Sowell refers to several websites that allow people to opt out of receiving phone books.

Anything proactive to reduce waste is a good thing, he said.

Also, he said, it makes sense for directory companies to change their business model so people who don't want a phone book won't get one.

"To me, personally, it's a waste," he said.

At the same time, Medrano sees how the elderly and poor can fall into a gap.

A good plan would be to have a program where phone book companies send out letters to households to see if the homeowner is interested in receiving a phone book, she said.

This way, people who want a phone book will receive one and those who don't, won't. Medrano imagines this would reduce printing costs.

"You can't totally do away with them," she said. "Not everyone has the ability to use or have the technology."

Medrano and her husband are both connected through their smart phones and use those as their primary source for information.

Medrano, who teaches at Howell Middle School, has always been amazed by how much technology has prevailed.

She remembers at one point when she would have to ask kids to raise their hands if they had a computer, and only a few hands went up.

Now, she asks who doesn't have a computer because the possibility is way less.

"You need to be on the cutting edge," she said.



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