Printed telephone directory to be discontinued after 142 years - "Yellow Pages" to remain

Fewer and fewer people in Switzerland are publishing their private telephone numbers. As a result, the scope, use and relevance of the so-called "white pages" have constantly declined over the years. For this reason, private telephone numbers will only be published online from 2023. Printing of the Swiss telephone directory will cease at the end of 2022 after 142 years.

Shelf wall with telephone directories from 142 years (source: PTT archive) / Further text via ots and / There is no charge for the use of this image for editorial purposes. Publication please under source reference: "obs/localsearch".

142 years ago, on November 6, 1880, the first public telephone directory in Switzerland was published in Zurich. It contained just 98 entries without telephone numbers. At that time, telephone calls were only possible during the day. Over the next few years, the number of entries increased rapidly in parallel with the number of connections. As early as 1959, there were one million registered telephone numbers. The so-called "White Pages" in the telephone directory then reached its peak in the 1990s with around 4.2 million entries. After the obligation to publish telephone numbers was lifted in 1997, the situation began to reverse - and the number of entries steadily declined.

Since then, the handling of private data has also changed significantly. With the dawn of the digital age and the increase in unsolicited advertising calls, fewer and fewer people want their phone number to be listed in a public directory. They want to decide for themselves who gets their number.

This development is reinforced by a marked decline in fixed-network lines among private individuals. In total, there are now around 3 million fewer fixed-network numbers than in 2000, and a large proportion of the population is increasingly opting for a mobile connection only - with a direct impact on the scope of the telephone directory. If fixed-network lines are automatically included in the telephone directory and are only not published if requested, the owner of a mobile number must explicitly request an entry. But hardly anyone does that.

"This change makes it clear why the relevance of the 'white pages' has declined sharply in recent years," says Stefano Santinelli, CEO localsearch (Swisscom Directories AG). And further: "We are reacting to this development and will let the age of the 'White Pages' come to an end next year." Printing of the Swiss telephone directory in its current form will cease at the end of 2022 after 142 years, and private telephone numbers will only be published online.

Assistance: Telephone directory as PDF

People who do not have Internet access or who have difficulty with the Internet can obtain telephone numbers via alternative channels if they wish. For example, the groups concerned can download the telephone directory for a specific municipality from family members, neighbors or acquaintances free of charge as a PDF and then have it printed out.

Furthermore, the established directory assistance services such as the number 1811 are available. Anyone who wants to learn how to use the Internet and search for phone numbers in online directories can take part in a beginner's course for smartphone and tablet from the Swisscom Academy.

Localcities Guide: "Yellow Pages" in a new look

The "White Pages" (private numbers) were previously published together with the "Yellow Pages" (business directory) in the Localguide. This printed telephone directory will be discontinued at the end of 2022. While the relevance of the "White Pages" has declined considerably, the situation with the "Yellow Pages" is different. Companies and service providers continue to publish their numbers and addresses in the yellow pages in order to be found by consumers. The yellow pages therefore continue to be highly relevant for a large user group.

Localsearch from Swisscom Directories aims to meet this need from 2023 with the Localcities Guide. The new product is a business, association and community directory for the region. In addition to company addresses and association information, the publication also contains interesting facts about the municipalities, a number directory of the federal administration, school holiday calendars and the like.

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