Now is the time to assess the impact on your business
Very few technologies last a lifetime, let alone multiple generations. It’s time to say goodbye to good old copper telephone lines. The number of Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) lines has been in decline for years, from 122 million in 2010 to 41 million in 2019, while the rates have increased 36%. For over a century, POTS lines were the most common way people and businesses connected with each other through the phone system; they carried hours of conversation from offices to offices, homes to homes, across thousands of miles.
Until recently, POTS lines were protected by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) because they were considered “critical infrastructure” as the primary way people could contact emergency services such as the police and an ambulance. This designation ensured that carriers can’t just drop the old copper technology and force you onto newer services, and it required charging “fair rates.” All of that changed when, in 2019, the FCC issued an order mandating that all POTS lines in the U.S. be replaced by August 2, 2022.
Part of the 36-page order states:
“Given the sweeping changes in the communications marketplace since the passage of the 1996 Act, including the increasing migration of consumers of all sorts and sizes away from TDM technology, copper loops, and local telephone service toward newer, any-distance voice services over next-generation wireline and wireless networks and the wide range of competitors offering facilities-based voice service alongside over-the-top Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services, we find that the public interest is no longer served by maintaining these legacy regulatory obligations and their associated costs. Rather than a foothold for new entrants into the marketplace, they have become a vice, trapping incumbent LECs into preserving outdated technologies and services at the cost of a slower transition to next-generation networks and services that benefit American consumers and businesses.”
Reasons cited for the retirement include:
- the need for customers to migrate to high-speed broadband due to high growth in those areas
- the need to remove copper lines for maintenance and construction projects
- a lack of demand for POTS as an increasing number of consumers and organizations voluntarily transition to next-generation devices and services
- because wireless networks are highly available and can be used as a replacement for copper lines
Major carriers have sent a clear signal that they are moving toward shutting down POTS networks. Lumen filed to retire their copper in numerous states starting in September 2020. Verizon asked customers to sunset by April 2022. Other carriers have already transitioned thousands of customers from copper to fiber networks.
This creates a significant problem for businesses relying on POTS to provide analog dial tones for specific specialized devices and services such as fax machines, alarm systems, POS (point of sale) systems, and elevator lines. While many standard devices can be transitioned with relative ease to broadband data lines, not all devices designed for an analog system convert straightforwardly to a digital one.
Are you Ready to Make the Transition?
Faced with the reality of disappearing copper lines and rising monthly charges, what are the best options for transitioning your existing devices? Fortunately, the rapid expansion of IoT combined with advanced internet technology has brought forth practical solutions for salvaging your outdated POTS.
How? Well, an IoT device is nothing more than a purpose-built specialty device connected to the internet. You may have seen these as temperature sensors or thermostats, but in the world of POTs replacement, they can replace the physical wires bringing phone service into the building. These devices, provide your existing equipment, such as phones, alarms, or fax machines, with a connection to the phone system through the internet, rather through your existing copper POTS line.
As modern technology and IoT technology continue to evolve at a dizzying pace, adopting 4G LTE connectivity will also be an essential stepping-stone to the inevitable eventual upgrade to 5G. The more sluggish organizations adapt to current technology standards, the more they will risk falling exponentially behind their more innovative competitors.
Do your business operations still rely on the ability to send faxes? If you are in an industry mandated to track and comply with various government regulations, such as the legal and healthcare fields, chances are you do. Or you may still be relying on fax technology to place orders with vendors or receive orders from your customers. Transitioning to 4G LTE or 5G provides a reliable alternative at a reasonable cost.
A service outage poses a significant problem and potentially hefty consequences for a business. The reliability of 4G LTE connectivity is ideal for critical business applications such as emergency alarms, point of sale systems, elevator lines, and entry gates. For added resiliency, implementing a failover internet service (switching to a duplicate or backup internet connection) can ensure business continuity during an outage.
Are you still using analog phone lines for certain locations or applications? Whether you’re using your current POTS for a basic desk phone or connecting into a more robust PBX, a cloud-based VoIP solution may be a better alternative than just replacing the POTS line with a wireless replacement. VoIP technology offers a great deal more functionality than legacy analog POTS, making it an excellent upgrade option for business telephones. Features like call recording, call forwarding, conference calling, voicemail routing, and customized caller ID are now readily available at a very reasonable cost. Sound quality is more reliable, and no additional setup is required for remote work.
Bluewave can perform a telecom audit and create a solution that streamlines the transition of analog lines to modern data networks which typically results in immediate cost savings. We can help identify your copper lines, how you’re using them, suggest alternative telecom solutions and carriers, and manage the contract and implementation process for you. We’ll ensure you get the right replacement products that fit your business requirements.
Get in touch with Bluewave today to discuss the ideal solution for converting your outdated POTS with the best-fitting next-gen technologies.