RICHMOND — The State Corporation Commission (SCC) has
denied a request from the Virginia Telecommunications Industry Association (VTIA)
to eliminate the requirement that local telephone companies in Virginia provide
free directory assistance to their customers. The SCC instead reduced the mandatory
number of free monthly directory assistance calls from two to one.
Free directory assistance calls are included with basic local dial tone telephone
service. The VTIA was seeking to eliminate the provision.
The two call allowance has been in place since 2008. In its final order, the Commission
said, "We recognize that technological and market advancements provide many customers
with alternatives to white page listings. Some of the alternatives, however, may
not be as readily accessible to telephone users to be considered an equivalent substitute
for the directory assistance that has been part of their telephone service for many
years." The Commission added, "Moreover, those alternatives do not necessarily fulfill
an essential function provided by the free … allowance; that is, those alternatives
will not necessarily contain the listings that are absent from the white page directory
or from other sources."
According to the Commission, "We find that a minimum of one free monthly local directory
assistance call allowance is, and will remain, an essential part of dial tone telephone
service provided by Virginia's local exchange companies."
Case Number PUC-2009-00074