POTS, or plain old telephone service, has been a hot topic over the last few years as the FCC removed the maintenance requirement for the copper lines at the heart of the POTS line. The phone has long been a staple of American life. The majority of us cannot remember a time in our lives when we did not have access in our home to a telephone, much like the newer generations do not remember a time when there was not an internet connection widely available or even (shocking!) know what a wired handheld phone is. Digital forms of communications such as Voice Over Internet Protocol, internet access, and cell phones have effectively put the traditional telephone technology to bed.
POTS lines are the copper wires found strung along utility poles that serviced American businesses and households from 1890 to 1980. And while most of the infrastructure is still intact, whether it has been moved underground or remained in the air on these utility poles, the copper wires have degraded. Historically, POTS lines were required to be maintained by the carrier of last resort and aging or damaged lines had to be replaced or repaired. Since the FCC has now removed those requirements, carriers are opting to cease maintenance of these lines and instead push the consumer onto the newer digital communications options.
How has technology changed over the years?
In short – it hasn’t. It is still a bundled coil of copper wires directly connecting point a to point b, whether it is carried overhead on telephone poles or underground. But this basic form of communications had limitations. Increased use of cell phones and internet communications provide greater flexibility and convenience of the newer technology causing a massive migration to digital options and replacing the POTS lines of old as the de facto form of communication for both the personal and professional world.
How many POTS lines do you have and what is your plan for replacing them?
Nearly every business still has at least one or two POTS lines supporting certain vital business functions. Alarms (fire, burglar), elevator lines, analog modem data applications, and fax machines are likely still running over POTS lines. Fire and burglar alarms use unique protocols to function and IP solutions don’t always “play nice” with these services. Faxing over IP has always had its problems and is usually presented as a “best-effort” solution by carriers. Complex and Unique analog modem data functions don’t always work well with IP-based solutions and require major fine-tuning. It is a real challenge to find a product that can emulate the reliability, flexibility, and solid performance of the traditional copper POTS line.
With the FCC order, POTS lines will soon be scarce or unavailable, forcing business owners to scramble to find a solution that supports their vital business functions. Additionally, carriers have already started hiking pricing for POTS lines by 40% to 100% in an effort to move customers off of the outdated copper technology that they no longer have to offer or support. This leaves business owners in a technical and financial conundrum.
However – there are now a handful of effective and compliant solutions available that can reduce your communications costs and fill the technical void left by the disappearance of copper POTS lines. Learn more about POTS Line Replacement options here.