After 142 years: The printed phone book will be phased out at the end of 2022

The scope, use and relevance of the so-called “white pages” have steadily declined over the years.

Fewer and fewer people in Switzerland publish their private phone numbers. As a result, the scope, use and relevance of the so-called “white pages” have steadily declined over the years. For this reason, private phone numbers will only be published online from 2023. After 142 years, the printing of the Swiss phone book will cease at the end of 2022.

142 years ago, on November 6, 1880, the first public telephone directory in Switzerland was published in Zurich. It contained only 98 records without phone numbers, and phone calls were only possible during the day at that time. Over the next few years, the number of registrations increased rapidly alongside the number of connections. As early as 1959, there were one million registered telephone numbers. The so-called “white pages” of the phone book then peaked in the 1990s with around 4.2 million entries. After the duty to publish telephone numbers was lifted in 1997, the turnaround began and the number of registrations steadily declined.

Since then, the handling of private data has changed significantly. With the advent of the digital age and the rise of unsolicited telemarketing calls, fewer and fewer people want their phone number to be in a public phone book. They will decide for themselves who gets their number.

This development is reinforced by a significant decrease in landline connections among private individuals. Overall, there are around 3 million fewer landline numbers today than there were in 2000. A large part of the population is increasingly choosing only a mobile connection – with a direct impact on the size of the phone book. If landline connections are automatically included in the phonebook and are not published only upon request, the owner of a mobile number must explicitly request an entry. But hardly anyone does.

“This change makes it clear why the relevance of the ‘White Pages’ has declined significantly in recent years,” says Stefano Santinelli, CEO of localsearch (Swisscom Directories AG). And further: “We are responding to this development and will let the era of ‘the white pages’ come to an end next year.” The printing of the Swiss phone book in its previous form will cease after 142 years at the end of 2022, private phone numbers will only be published online.

Assistance: phonebook as PDF

According to localsearch, people who do not have Internet access or who have difficulty using the Internet can request phone numbers through alternative channels. The concerned groups can download the phone book for a particular community for free from family members, neighbors or acquaintances as a PDF and then print it out.

The established information services such as the number 1811 are still available. Anyone who would like to learn how to use the internet and how to look up phone numbers in online directories can attend a Swisscom Academy introductory course for smartphones and tablets.

Localcities GUIDE: “Yellow Pages” in a new look

“The white pages” (private numbers) were previously published together with “The yellow pages” (the business directory) in the local guide. This printed phone book will be discontinued at the end of 2022. “If the relevance of ‘The White Pages’ has fallen significantly, the starting point for ‘The Yellow Pages’ is different,” the statement states. Companies and service providers continue to publish their numbers and addresses on industry websites for consumers to find. “The company directory is therefore still extremely relevant for a large user group,” it continues.

localsearch will meet this need from 2023 with Localcities GUIDE. The new product is a branch, club and local book for the region. In addition to company addresses and club information, the publication should also include interesting facts about the communities, a directory of numbers for the federal administration, school holiday calendars and the like.

Via localsearch (Swisscom Directories AG)

localsearch is the leading marketing and advertising partner for Swiss SMEs. The Localsearch product portfolio helps businesses to be found online, acquire new customers and retain them for the long term. With simple and effective solutions for online marketing, competent on-site advice and an attractive price-performance ratio, localsearch contributes to the success of Swiss SMEs in the digital world. With local.ch and search.ch, localsearch also manages and markets the catalog and booking platforms with the widest coverage in Switzerland, reaching every second Swiss online user with the two offers (3.9 million unique users per month net and 7.2 million unique customers per month Source: Net-Metrix 2020). local.ch and search.ch are among the most popular online offers in Switzerland. They are used, among other things, to find service providers, book appointments online, consult the weather forecast or calculate a travel route. The Localsearch brand portfolio also includes renovero, the largest Swiss trading platform, Localcities, the community and association platform, and the industry comparison service liefer-vergleich.ch.

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