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AT&T stops offering directory assistance via 411

The logo of telecom AT&T is seen on a building in Chicago.
The logo of telecom AT&T is seen on a building in Chicago. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons, Graphic by The Desk)

AT&T says it has shut down its directory assistance service via the 4-1-1 telephone number for residential and small business customers of its voice-over-Internet (VoIP) phone service.

The company stopped offering directory assistance to VoIP phone customers on January 1, with affected subscribers now hearing a recording that their calls can’t be completed.

The move to stop offering directory assistance primarily impacts customers of AT&T’s U-Verse phone service and those who have VoIP service through AT&T Fiber. AT&T began notifying affected customers about the change last December. Customers with AT&T Home Phone service, which uses the company’s traditional landline network, won’t be affected for the moment.

AT&T said most customers who have phone service through them also have some kind of Internet connection — which makes sense, since VoIP phone service only works as long as a customer also has Internet. For this reason, the company says customers should look up phone numbers and addresses using Google.

There are a number of other online services that help customers find telephone numbers and addresses for people and businesses. Yelp, a popular business review site, typically contains updated phone numbers, addresses and hours for local restaurants, retailers, stylists and other services. and also allow phone users to find numbers and addresses, while Spokeo allows customers to reverse-search phone numbers that called them. Many of these options are free; by comparison, AT&T charged $2.50 per 4-1-1 call before ending the service this month.

Phone customers who still want to find a phone number by dialing for directory assistance can call 1-800-FREE-411 (1-800-373-3411), though a part of the call will contain an advertisement to offset the cost of looking up a number.

AT&T’s competitors, Verizon and T-Mobile, still offer traditional 4-1-1 directory assistance for customers. Verizon also offers 4-1-1 service via text message.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).