Overview of Copper POTS Lines in Telecom

Overview of Copper POTS Lines in Telecom

Copper POTS lines, or Plain Old Telephone Service lines, have been a mainstay technology for telecom for decades. They enable voice transmission over analog circuits, making them ideal for business or home use. This article will explain the differences between digital and analog communications and help you understand the applications of these Copper Phone lines in telecom.

What Are the Different Types of Analog/Digital Voice Over Telephone System Connections?

robots holding tin c an phones copper pots lines

POTS lines come in two main varieties: analog and digital. Copper POTS Lines are analog and are an older technology, but they are still widely used for voice calls. It provides an essential service with low latency, making it suitable for applications like home phones or business phone systems. Digital communications are the latest technology available, utilizing the internet, primarily constructed with fiber optic cables,  to deliver phone calls with much better quality and lower latency than analog. Both digital and analog offer similar features, such as caller ID, voicemail, three-way calling, and conference calls.

However, Copper POTS lines are challenging to modernize with newer features such as video conferencing. The phone number is tied to a specific location, not the phone, making it unable to move with the user.  Additionally, Copper Phone Lines are old – and are showing their age.  Wires are deteriorating faster than telcos can repair them, and as subscribers switch to digital technology, the costs to maintain the Copper POTS Lines are unsustainable.

Digital Voice Communications have clearly won the battle of the technologies. Aside from the apparent difference in what type of wire the information is delivered over, there are some key differences between digital and analog telecommunications.

What is the Difference Between Analog Copper POTS Lines and Digital Voice?

Sound waves or 0’s and 1’s are at the core of the difference between these two technologies.  While both Copper POTS lines and fiber optic cables can be used to transmit sound and data, HOW they do this is vastly different.

Copper POTS lines send sound through a series of sound waves that are converted to electrical pulses and then back to sound waves, facilitating the conversation in a way that makes you feel as if you are in the room with the other party.  Obviously, this was transformative to communications at the time of its discovery as now we could connect with family, friends, and customers instantly and each from our own homes or offices.

The challenge, however, stemmed from the bandwidth of the Copper Phone lines, which is significantly smaller than the digital lines that use a series of light pulses to transmit data and sound.  Since light can travel faster than sound, wires that use fiber optic lights as opposed to electrical pulses can handle significantly more data at the highest quality.

Say Goodbye to POTS

FCC Order 19-72A1 was confirmed in 2019 after the US Telecom Broadband Association petitioned the FCC in 2018 to remove the maintenance requirement that was put in place with the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and the FCC agreed with an effective date of August 2, 2022.   As a result, the maintenance of these lines, as well as the costs, are no longer regulated, resulting in even further degradation of the copper POTS Lines and rising costs as carriers work towards migrating users from Copper Phone Lines to digital lines of communications.

Woman holding copper POTS phone

The only thing we know for sure is that the copper POTS lines will fade out.  We don’t know exactly when all POTS lines will be a thing of the past, but we do know that the process has begun.

Prepare for the switch with POTS IN A BOX®.  Learn more:

What is POTS IN A BOX and How Does it Work

What are POTS Lines and what does FCC order 19-72A1 for POTS lines mean?


POTS Replacement

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