The first telephone was invented in 1876 by Alexander Graham Bell and was the standard offering of telecommunications providers until 1988. Originally, lines were stretched between two buildings in order to establish a connection and callers relied on the post office to connect them to the right destination. The further the distance the longer the line, part of the reasons why “long-distance” calls were more expensive than local ones. The system of wires was known as the “Post Office Telephone System,” and the acronym “POTS” was born. As the technology further innovated the network became known as the “plain old telephone system” or “plain ordinary telephone system.”
The Evolution of the POTS Phone System
In the early 1900s, the POTS phone system was replaced with the more modern switchboard system. This new system allowed for multiple lines to be connected at one location and brought down overall costs by placing switches at certain points in the network and functioning as “nodes” between the two points. Operators were required to physically connect callers to their intended location, an operation known as “circuit switching.” Further innovation automated the switching process where signals were communicated to the devices through a series of electrical impulses and there was no longer the need for a dedicated individual to physically connect the callers. By 1946, mobile telephones were being installed in cars, and in 1960, businesses began adopting Private Branch Exchange (PBX) systems comprised of a group of multiline POTS phones to manage their communications.
It took over a decade for VoIP and VoIP solutions to gain traction after first being introduced in 1996. VoIP solutions innovated rapidly, far faster than the hundred years it took to get POTS phones from invention to full capabilities. By 2008, VoIP phones overtook POTS phones and new VoIP lines accounted for 80% of all PBX lines. By 2019, telco’s petitioned (and won) the FCC to drop the maintenance requirement for the POTS lines networks. And the rest, as they say, is history.
POTS Phones Fade into Retirement
POTS Phones for Small Businesses played a significant role in building our businesses and it will be hard to let them go. But they are on to bigger and better things, just as we are with the adoption of digital technologies. Learn more about POTS line replacement options for POTS phones for small businesses.