By Tanya Seda, Chief Strategy Officer
Your P.O.T.S., once so shiny, new and useful, are finally at the end of their useful life. They’ve served you well but now it’s time for something better, more modern, more useful. Of course, I’m not talking about your old kitchen utensils, I’m talking about the venerable “plain old telephone services”, soon to be sunset. And by soon I mean really soon in network terms: the summer of 2022. AT&T, Verizon and other carriers have plans to discontinue support for POTS lines starting in Europe and rolling across the US.
It’s important to remember that the sunsetting of POTS affects more than just voice landlines. These lines also impact fire and burglar alarms, faxes, elevators, and point of sale (POS) solutions many of which still rely on POTS lines. Converting analog to digital communications infrastructures is a huge project that needs to be planned for and scoped out. With this in mind, here are some steps to consider:
Most enterprises and state regulators are moving slowly regarding the sunsetting of POTS. Practically speaking, we anticipate the end of POTS service will probably take several years. As a business, you probably have the option to do nothing for a while, but at the same time, it is important to note these line rates are dramatically climbing as they become more and more a legacy service. The average cost per line has gone up significantly in recent years. In fact, we have seen line costs over $145 in 2020! Keeping POTS is an option, but it presents an extraordinary extra expense, one that will affect budgets. And don’t forget, they will go away.
Enterprises that have the money and resources to migrate to a digital telecom infrastructure will put them ahead of the game. If you’re on the fence about how to proceed, don’t forget that POTS are going away and a planned, orderly conversion will be much easier to fund than a last-minute rush to keep comms open. By making this migration proactively, you’ll get a modern unified communications (UC) system, and planning for the future of your network should be top of mind.
Across our customer base, we have been successfully helping customers migrate their POTS lines over to fiber. However, this takes planning, time, and money. It is a good idea to consult with an expert to help enhance your efforts.
The third option is a POTS to fiber media converter. There are a couple of devices out there that convert copper line signals to digital ones. Unfortunately, The conversion from POTS to VoIP would generally be insufficient for enterprise-level situations. However, some products can support the rest of the POTS-reliant infrastructure such as:
These devices simply port into existing copper infrastructure and give it the same capabilities as full fiber networks. Installing a converter essentially provides the same benefits as a fiber installation, but with fewer resources invested.
For emergency lines, fire panels, and alarms, you can replace POTS lines utilizing proven wireless technology with LTE cellular service. For fire alarm lines, the wireless device bundled with carriers are UL certified – UL 1023 / UL 985 / UL 864 10th Ed, and NFPA 72 Signaling Code certified, listed and fire marshal approved for use in all 50 states. For example, AT&T solutions are delivered with two wireless devices and SIMS from two different cellular carriers, delivering connection diversity and redundancy. They are also offering battery backup to ensure uptime.
Regardless of which path you take, whether it’s a straight up rip and replace of your infrastructure or a slow roll to conserve cash and extend the life of your existing systems, the POTS are banging around, and the end is getting closer by the day.