POTS / Analog Line Replacement Options as Copper Decommissioning Continues
Analog lines, POTS (Plain old telephone service), copper lines. Call them what you want, we call them legacy technology. One that has been on a slow path to obsolescence for many years. The infrastructure is deteriorating and not being replaced or upgraded. At the same time, the number of technicians who know how to support the technology is dwindling. Residential users have been on alternate technology for many years – Verizon FIOS, cable, AT&T U-verse or simply using mobile devices instead of analog service.
Businesses seem to have held onto their analog lines though. While they are moving to cloud-based unified communications systems for phone systems, many have kept their analog lines outside of these platforms for things like fax, elevators, alarms, and similar applications. One of the reasons these lines have remained in place is that they do not require power to be operational like other services may.
The FCC reports the number of POTS lines in the U.S. declined from 122 million in 2010 to 41 million in 2019, and carriers are on a path to drop POTS lines entirely within 5 years.
Many of our clients have received notices from their service providers about their analog lines being decommissioned. Once a notice is given, there is a short window to replace the technology and often a scramble. Or worse yet the notice is overlooked, and service is lost. Carriers are working towards various target dates depending on the location for decommissions. After that date, customers who don’t migrate will be subject to disconnection.
This decommission not only impacts your analog lines, but it could impact your network services with other providers that may be using a copper last mile for service delivery. If you have a low-bandwidth circuit that is not broadband, you may be impacted here too.
How can you get ahead of this? First, identify what services will be impacted, examine the options, and then develop a plan. ARG can help you create a plan with the right technology for your needs and use cases.
There are three technology options to explore depending on your use case.
1. One potential solution is a wireless provider offering POTS over LTE – this solution uses equipment to convert wireless to a traditional dial tone line. This can provide a flexible option for remote locations, new construction, or smaller locations with only a few lines where it doesn’t make sense to deliver larger fiber-based deployments. Some options can include multiple SIM cards for network redundancy.
2. A second option is using an Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA) to provide analog ports from your business internet service. These are often bundled in with unified communications services on a single invoice.
3. The third potential solution is Managed Facilities-based Voice Network (MFVN) solution. This uses the on-site cable modem with no additional equipment.
The POTS lines you have today are most likely being used for the following use cases:
- Point-of-sale (POS) Terminals
- Vending Machines
- ATM Machines
One use case where clients have a lot of concern is life safety. Since POTS lines are powered at the central office, they are reliable regardless of power outages and for that reason, they are used for alarm and emergency lines. To properly support life safety services like fire alarms, elevator emergency lines, and emergency call boxes, battery backup must be provided on the device delivering the analog service. This is available on many of the options above, but you can review the NFPA 72 code requirements to ensure your solution meets them.
Another common concern is mission-critical financial applications like ATM machines, point of sale, long-form or high-volume faxing for mortgages, wire transfers, or other sensitive financial or regulatory documents. There are options that include network connection diversity, end-to-edge encryption on all calls and faxes, monitoring, and 24-hour battery backup to ensure that you never miss a call or a fax.
Alarm service lines are another pain point, as alarm providers frequently have downtime and false alarms due to phone problems. Network diversity, monitoring, and battery backup can address these issues.
If you aren’t comfortable evaluating the options, ARG has decades of experience handling this for thousands of clients and can quickly identify the right solution based on your services and location.
Contact ARG Today to find the right POTS replacement strategy for your organization at email@example.com.