Plain old telephone service (POTS) lines remain prevalent in millions of businesses. That, however, will soon change, with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) intent on phasing them out. In 2010, 122 million POTS lines were being used in the U.S. By 2021, that number had plummeted to 36 million1. As the decline continues, the FCC is deregulating POTS, effective August 2022, meaning organizations still relying on POTS need to act fast.
What Are POTS Lines?
Plain old telephone service (POTS) refers to the analog telephone service that has been used in the U.S. for more than 100 years. The system, which is also referred to as the public switched telephone network (PSTN), uses twisted copper wire pairs to transmit signals and connect homes and businesses to central control rooms2.
Although originally operators manually connected callers, an automated switching process was instituted, and later modern advances such as call waiting, voicemail, and caller ID were integrated into the system. Now, however, with the rise of wireless communication, POTS lines are being replaced, and FCC’s upcoming deregulation aims to make analog phone lines a thing of the past.
Examples of POTS lines include:
- Wired Telephones
- Fax Machines
- Emergency Call Boxes
- Digital Subscriber Lines (DSL)
- Vending Machines
- POS Terminals
Tell Me More About the POTS Deregulation Order
On August 2, 2019, the FCC Forbearance Order 19-72A1 was issued. The order dictated that by August 2, 2022, all POTS lines in the U.S. needed to be replaced with an alternative service, effectively spelling the end for traditional analog copper phone line systems3. In their release announcing the order, which led with the damning title ‘FCC Grants Relief from Outdated and Burdensome Regulations Governing Plain Old Telephone Service’, the FCC said:
“Recognizing sweeping changes over the past two decades in the market for voice telephone service, the Federal Communications Commission issued an Order today granting certain local phone companies relief from two 1996-era regulatory obligations that no longer serve their intended purpose.”4
They go on to refer to the requirement for telephone companies to offer analog lines as “a vice … preserving and prolonging dependence on outdated technologies and services”.
What Impact Will POTS Deregulation Have?
FCC’s order requires that all POTS lines must be replaced. For organizations that are yet to upgrade their POTS line to an alternative, the clock is ticking. Should they fail to act before August 2, they’ll face difficulties, including a huge financial burden.
If organizations aren’t pushed into the transition, they’ll be left facing significant increases in their line costs. Estimates for the increase include prices doubling or tripling1 and increases of anywhere between $750 and $1,300 per line5. The skyrocketing prices are expected to be issued by providers because the will no longer be investing in their POTS lines.
What Replacements Are Available for POTS Lines?
There are two primary replacements for POTS lines: VoIP services and wireless LTE cellular connections.
VoIP (voice over internet protocol) services are a direct substitute for landline phone systems and are available in hardware- and software-based varieties. Hardware-based VoIP systems look like a traditional telephone and have similar features, such as caller ID, voicemail, call transfer, and call conferencing. Software-based VoIP phones are programs installed on computers or mobile devices that connect calls through the internet with users utilizing either the speaker and microphone built into their device or a plugged-in headset with a microphone6.
Cellular services connect the lines using wireless technology, with all your lines connecting directly to the internet and communicating through the LTE cellular service7. When choosing cellular replacements, make sure that the service provided has the necessary certification and approval — such as fire marshal approval or UL certification — for its purpose.
Is It Worth It?
Absolutely! The cost savings alone make it worthwhile upgrading your current POTS lines. With such a significant price increase around the corner, you’ll soon recoup your investment through your lower monthly costs, which begin as soon as your new system is deployed. In addition to reduced costs, here’s a few other reasons to upgrade:
- You’ll be future proofing your telecommunication systems and telephone lines by investing in new technology.
- You’ll enjoy improved network connectivity that is more reliable than POTS lines.
- You’ll experience minimum downtime, as the upgrades take just a few hours to install and deploy.
Thanks to CNECT’s expansive contract portfolio, you don’t have to spend endless hours searching for the right company to upgrade your POTS lines. We partner with reputable companies that supply the modern VoIP and cellular telephony and services you need to avoid the costly price increase of POTS deregulation. Through these contracts, you can save an average of 25% just by transitioning from POTS, as well as accessing discounts of up to 30% on your new comms hardware and exclusive prices on more than 2.7 million other products.
Utilize CNECT’s contracts to enjoy the considerable savings of upgrading your POTS lines. Contact our team today to get started!