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UK DQ use slides

Service improves and costs fall, apparently

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Fewer people in the UK are using directory enquiries (DQ) since the old "192" service was deregulated and opened up to competition last August.

While three in five punters said their use of DQ services has remained unchanged, a quarter said they didn't use the service as often as they use to. One in ten said they no longer used the service at all.

According to research published today by industry regulator Ofcom, half of consumers who have given DQ services the elbow said they were put off by "perceptions" of higher costs and iffy service.

Instead, these people have opted to use phone books or the Net to look-up numbers.

The findings, contained in Ofcom's latest investigation of the UK's DQ sector, support other industry stats which show that people simply aren't making the same amount of calls as they use to.

Despite this, the research found that the information being dished out by DQ operators is getting better and that competition is beginning - only beginning, mind - to drive down prices.

For instance, 87 per cent of all numbers requested were accurate and 99 per cent of all calls were answered first time. But while half of those services tested charged less than 40p for the call (that's what BT's 192 DQ service used to cost) half were more expensive.

Keen to keep an eye on the fledgling sector, Ofcom said: "There is evidence that many consumers remain unsure about some aspects of the new market. Although it is likely that public understanding will continue to grow as the market matures, Ofcom will continue to monitor development closely." ®

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