January 30, 2023

What is Pots Line Phone and Why Should You Replace it with a Modern Solution?

You probably rarely think about the time when the first phone line was invented, but for Alexander Graham Bell, sound technology was a highly personal pursuit. [1]

In 1876, he was granted his telephone patent and the world was forever changed by the words, “Mr. Watson, come here. I want you.” 

Despite having over 550 court challenges to his patent, Alexander Graham Bell persevered and now we are able to use even more advanced telecommunications.

We salute you, Sir!

What do POTS phone lines stand for?

POTS stands for Plain Old Telephone Service.

It has also been referred to as the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). In use since the 1880s, it was an improvement on the rudimentary phone system of Mr. Bell. Today, 36 million lines are still active. [2] 

How do POTS phone lines work?

A plain old telephone service (POTS) line transmits signals via copper wires, and a rotary or push-button phone instrument deciphers the sound waves and makes it possible to hear the caller. 

The plain old telephone service was installed in poles that ran throughout the country. The phone lines were managed by post office operators that connected callers.  They would transfer calls using a circuit switching process but could not use more than one or two switches at a time. This limited switched telephone networks. 

Ringing long distances was expensive because it was like renting copper wire on every call you made. Post Office Telephone Service was the main supplier of analog phone systems worldwide for many decades.

Source: Wikipedia

WikPOTS configuration of network boards and copper twisted pair wires barely changed until four decades ago. The biggest changes have been to the instrumentation and the automation of the switching function, which meant that operators were no longer required. 

This telephone service is referred to as an analog voice transmission system. Numerous daily applications use this technology.  

  • Fax machines 
  • ATMs 
  • Elevator call boxes 
  • Fire alarms
  • Burglar alarms
  • Heating, ventilation and air conditioner systems

The analog phone system has supported business activities for over a century making it as valuable as the personal computer.

Advances since the POTS Telephone Services

The most significant jump from the plain old telephone service is to digital networks. 

- Transistors

The transistor revolutionised digital networks by giving phones a digital signal transmitted in discrete packets. Unlike POTS lines, packet-based technologies dominate transmission channels by demanding continuous, dedicated circuits. 

- Modems

Modems are devices that allow you to explore the digital nature of internet protocols without having the traditional phone business system replaced. This was encouraging news for small businesses whose analog phone system was lacking. 

- Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN)

ISDN transmits voice and data over regular copper wires and traditional business phone systems. It was the first attempt to carry digital signals using copper-copper pair wirings. 

ISDN provides faster connection speeds and better quality calls than conventional POTS. For the first time since phone services became available, the ISDN could carry both voice and data signals on one line [3]

The development of transistors gave rise to the digital transmission of data signals in packets. Packet technology transmits voice and data independently through one or more switches.

The user must connect via an Internet Service Provider. The ISP provides a digital subscriber line, which allows for higher quality calls, especially long-distance calls. 

- Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) 

DSL technology allows the transfer of information from copper-wire phone systems. Transmitters that connect to computers use their local phones to connect directly to the ISP's network. The network then transmits data onto the Internet. DSL gave the business phone a much wider use.

DSL services were some of the first to carry digital signals but were soon replaced with asymmetric digital subscriber lines (ADSL) that allowed faster transmission of data over copper wires [4] 

Source: Pexels

Why should you replace POTS with a modern solution?

Any business wanting to make a technological improvement will have to consider a few key elements:

  • POTS lines are expensive, and costs are increasing 

POTS lines use copper wire which has become more expensive and less available over time.  And the setup of old-fashioned copper wires means that they are easily exposed.  In recent years copper wire has become less available and made it the target of thieves who steal the copper out of telephone cables, causing a headache for businesses and phone companies.

  • POTS lines will soon be phased out 

Digital communication has made the POTS line obsolete. As of August 2022, both POTS and Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) are being phased out in the USA. Countries in Europe and Africa are not far behind with their own phasing-out process. 

The cost of this type of phone system is anticipated to go from hundreds of dollars to thousands when the switch-off occurs, as POTS will no longer be supported. 

If it’s not feasible to change from your analog phone system immediately, a few tips could help you manage the costs:

  • Keep a telecom inventory - this will help you to discuss the voice calling services you require with your phone company 
  • Slowly replace the analog telephone system with newer digital communications
  • Keep track of rising telecom bills by actively monitoring the costs

  • Power outages affect the PBX phone system.

A power outage affects telephone lines leaving your business phone unusable.  This is a disaster for businesses relying on phones to make sales or give customer support. 

What is the best alternative to POTS lines?

Despite the success of POTS lines,  technology advanced rapidly in 1995 when Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) was developed. Businesses have since come to rely on the flexibility afforded by VoIP service. 

What is Voice Over Internet Protocol?

Source: Pexels

VoIP is a departure from analog lines in that sound waves are transferred over an internet connection. VoIP uses packet-based technology to transfer voice and data files such as fax, SMS, voice messaging, email and web meetings.

Audio and video files are decoded via codecs, software that compresses and decompresses data allowing it to be understood as audio or voice communication.

Popular codecs are used by WhatsApp, Telegram, FaceTime, Skype and Google Hangout, allowing users to make and receive audio and video calls and messages.

VoIP is available on VoIP phones (all smartphones) and computers.  In the last five years, smart TVs have been developed that transmit digital signals via VoIP. 

Uses of VoIP 

Mass market VoIP technology uses existing infrastructure that allows voice calls, much like the pots line. 

A VoIP service is provided to a business and can be connected to WIFI.  Softphone software is installed on computers and acts as a virtual dial pad using the computer keypad. A telephone handset acts as listening equipment.  This makes the use of a PABX switchboard redundant and saves the cost of the hardware. 

Benefits of VoIP services

It is safe to say that VoIP technology beats the old telephone system hands down because of what it can deliver.

- Cost-effectiveness

Increasing prices of POTS network repair and installation mean that technology can soon be prohibitive for customers. Continued support for the copper line is dwindling rapidly and businesses need telecom companies that can offer solutions to rapidly advancing technology.

VoIP allows voice and data communications to run on a single network reducing infrastructure costs.

- Easy setup and maintenance

The POTS service is sometimes tricky to install as the physical wire runs to your premises. This makes it even incompatible with remote work, which has become very popular. VoIP services are simple to set up and just require a simple login. 

VoIP has a simple, intuitive user interface so users can make setting changes that make functions easier to navigate.

- Expanded features

Features unavailable on the POTS lines, like a No Disturb mode, a text or shared phone number, call forwarding and a central office pick-up, are all standard with VoIP.  You can receive calls on multiple devices, making missed calls a thing of the past. 

Some phone systems provide integration services that connect your phone to business-owned CRM software, which is essential for sales teams.

- Better call quality

Source: Pexels

Because the VoIP line uses a broadband internet connection instead of copper lines, there is improved call quality. However, to be fair, the quality does also depend on the following factors:

  • Speed and capacity of computers
  • Routers capacity
  • VoIP servers
  • VoIP service provider
  • Internet connection bandwidth

These factors can be managed with the service provider and changes made as they affect the business.

- Unification of communication

A unified communication system can help your business communicate effectively with your clients without sacrificing quality.  The importance of unified communication has become a focal point in businesses, small and large. allows you to create a digital mailbox for all your communication needs and also provides you with access to documents when you are offline.  Try their cutting edge solutions for yourself - you won’t regret it.

- Use of Cloud-Based VoIP Services

Cloud-based services act much like a POTS line PABX system in that it becomes the central point for online communication channels.

Phone calls are not routed through traditional networks but rather through a third-party hosted internet system. The cost lies in paying a subscription to the provider and not much else.  

Cloud-based services in the telephone industry have become popular in recent years with businesses wanting to consolidate their communications costs. 

Does your business need VoIP? 

Take stock of your needs by answering these questions:

  1. Is your company affected by the POTS and ISDN switch-off?
  2. Do you have employees working remotely?
  3. Does having a unified communications system suit your current or future needs?

Last words 

The rudimentary phone system invented by Alexander Graham Bell changed communication forever.  Since his day, inventors developed other phone systems, including the mobile phone, which is revolutionizing communication once more.

Businesses will not be able to keep using outdated POTS technology for long as the world has decided to part with it. It is in the best interest of businesses to advance with technology and find a partner to help with this.  

Trythatch is standing ready to assist your business with its communication needs. Let them take you smoothly into an exciting future. 






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