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What are POTS Lines? Find Your 5G

What are POTS Lines?


Plain Old Telephone Service, or POTS as they are called, is an outdated network of communication that was originally developed to transmit phone technology over a local area. Here's how the system works: a caller and a receiver are connected on a phone call via a physical analog line (phone system, alarm, security systems). This then connects to copper wires, and routes to towers within a local area.  

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This form of communication has served us for a long time by linking calls and services through copper wires.

A POTS line was first developed by AT&T, and can transmit voice messages locally and through connections to long distance carriers across the globe. POTS has been the standard for local communications phone service for individual business since its inception in the start of the 20th century.


A Brief History

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The origin of POTS stems from Alexander Graham Bell’s phone system in 1876; the first edition of its kind. POTS uses copper twisted pair wires to connect homes and businesses to central control rooms. In the 1950s, POTS used to stand for “post office telephone service,” because operators used to physically connect callers from a central office.

After some time, operators in a central location were phased out by automated calls made over POTS lines. The new connection was more efficient for handling higher call volume and long distance calls. A few things were missing from this switch, however. At first, there was no way to block numbers, or forward calls.

As technology advanced, features like call waiting, voicemail, and caller ID were integrated into the POTS system. Modems and fax machines also used POTS lines to convey digital information; and this analog system is still the basis for many of our functioning telecommunications today.


Copper cables began as one of the main sources of connectivity. These lines make talking on the phone with people in your local region accessible, and many of these copper lines are still being used today to transmit this information...but not for long.


Who uses POTS lines today?

Read how businesses that traditionally use POTs systems can benefit from VOIP phone systems.

Hotels, hospitals, businesses, schools and universities are all large scale institutions that use POTS lines today. They utilize these lines for communication within their headquarters and to support endpoint devices that have been in place for years. Although most organizations have implemented modern digital or cloud communication systems to support their organizations, POTS still support functioning devices that are still essential to the organization. These devices include: fax machines, elevator phones, fire alarms, security alarms, access control systems and more.


POTS make it easy to connect to the people within an organization, which many have been led to believe is the only way of communication. POTS lines are becoming increasingly expensive to maintain - a problem that many universities are beginning to face . The rates for upkeep are increasing drastically each year.


POTS Lines Details and Terminology

  1. Circuit Switching: Today, voice itself can’t move through a POTS line. First, sound waves need to be converted into electric signals to pass through the network. Copper wires can be sent through analog signals, but they need a dedicated switch to travel through. Circuit switching is reliable, but the line is reserved for only one call.
  • Gen 1: Circuit switching network required operators to plug wires into a common patch panel to connect two parties. Connections that required two exchanges needed two operators to plug the caller and receiver’s wires at the same time into the same wire called a trunk. Pretty complex.
  • Gen 2: Automated switching worked by responding to signals from a calling device. This type of switching eliminated the need for operators.
  • Gen 3: The automated switch has been replaced by the crossbar switch, which is an assembly of switches among a set of inputs and outputs. When a switch is closed, it allows the connection between one of the inputs and one of the outputs to work. This technology granted capability to tasks like call processing, monitoring, and operation. These devices were complex and expensive which gave rise to the creation of the transistor.
  1. Transistor: The transistor spurred on digital networks, enabling phone lines to carry digital signals in “packets.” Packets don't require the transmission channel to be an open and dedicated circuit, but transmit voice and other messages independently through the switches.
  2. Modems: Modems were created to supplement the transmission of digital signals without overloading the network.
Types of modems include:
Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) is a recent transitions data transmission over POTS lines. To do so, a transceiver connects to your PC and uses the local phone network to connect to an ISP network. This enables your use of the internet, and is most useful to small businesses.
Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) allows voice and data transmission over a regular phone line. To enable a connection, users dial in. The fees for such service rely on the duration of the transmission. Large companies or businesses looking to expand in the future may find this modem more suited.


Drawbacks to POTS Lines


Based on the destination of where one is calling from, the call could be routed through several central offices to reach its final destination. During one of these routings, the call has a higher likelihood of losing connectivity.

Once you’ve placed your call, the audio is converted from sound waves into electrical analog signals, which are carried by the copper wires to the receiver’s end. Then, they’re changed back into sound waves so that the receiver can understand him/her. 

One of the downsides of copper lines is that they can create noise interference. The signals they transmit grow weaker with distance, meaning that amplification may be necessary to deliver the signals from caller to receiver.

Understanding Your Dillema with POTS

The combination of wireless and VoIP telephony has dramatically reduced the demand for traditional POTS lines. Maintaining complex equipment for a rapidly-decreasing user base is becoming unsustainable. As a result, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has enabled and encouraged carriers to abandon their traditional POTS infrastructure.

FCC reports that the number of POTS lines in the U.S. has declined from 122 million in 2010 to 41 million in 2019, and carriers that currently support POTS services are on a path to replace them all within the next five years. Service rates for remaining POTS users have been rising dramatically, and will only get more expensive as we shift to a wireless internet network.

According to the Bureau of Labor, POTS charge rates increased 36% from 2010 to 2021, despite mobile charges decreasing in price over the last decade. Providers are becoming forced to support their remaining POTS infrastructure from a smaller pool of customers, and they can do so by increasing the rates for existing POTS users.

The amount of companies that are using POTS is still widespread throughout the world; and the new monthly bill will soon be a shock to those still paying for this infrastructure.

Solutions to POTS

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Solutions to POTS lines make use of the mobile network and rate structures that has been advancing the Internet of things (IoT). These devices have much lower end-point pricing than mobile phones because their overall usage is much lower.

Wireless endpoints are much lower than the mobile phone with unlimited dialing and video internet speeds. These companies offer a POTS replacement and wireless for equivalent cost, or even less as 5G drives new economies. Both solutions are provided as a service offering through their distribution channels.

The end of the POTS era is upon us, and POTS replacement should be a 2022 priority for all organizations with infrastructure with them installed. To prepare for the new generation of 5G, organizations must thoroughly consider their communication geography and carriers. Next, they will want to plan for alternative solutions in the building environments:

  1. Installing VoIP infrastructure
  2. Creating a new wireless solution
  3. POTS to fiber media converter
    There are only a couple of devices out there that convert copper line signals to digital ones. The products that support the rest of the POTS-reliant infrastructure are:
  • Alarms
  • Faxes
  • Elevators
  • POS solutions
  • 4G backup/failover

These devices port into existing copper infrastructure and give it the same capabilities as full fiber networks. Installing a converter provides the same benefits as a fiber installation, but with fewer resources invested.

These options represent the most viable solutions to replacing the soaring price increase of POTS lines. POTS replacement will be an urgent matter for many carriers in the upcoming months. 


Converting to 5g: Cradlepoint


What is a Cradlepoint

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Our world has become dependent on connected devices, applications, and the cloud. For it to work, we must have reliable, agile and secure network connections. Oftentimes, this requires organizations to evaluate their POTS lines. This is when Cradlepoint comes into play.

Cradlepoint develops routers, gateways and software for wireless WAN edge networking. It utilizes 4G and 5G wireless signals to connect businesses and other mobile users, such as remote front-line emergency workers.

Cradlepoint works with primary, hybrid, or secondary WAN links, and connects to wireless edge routers which deliver the best in LTE, along with a secure link to 5G. Flexible LTE adapters work with any branch or SD-WAN router for cellular connection. These solutions maximize the time businesses can operate within constant connectivity.


Cradlepoint IoT Routers


To organizations that rely on IoT services, securing connectivity is crucial. Cradlepoint NetCloud’s IoT edge-to-cloud service is delivered through purpose-built LTE routers. It allows enterprises to connect all wired and wireless devices, and the routers can also filter through traffic. This helps fight security threats. The admin panel allows IT to collaborate on deployment and management duties anywhere.


Wireless WAN is the Future


What is WAN? WAN stands for "Wide Area Network," and refers to a network that expands over a long geographic area for computer networking. 

WAN is often built with leased network circuits. Most importantly, it keeps critical assets connected in places without wires. Cradlepoints keep vehicles, field forces, and remote kiosks connected. With installation of Gigabit LTE and 5G LTE, networks are more moving faster and are more connected than ever. In addition, flat-rate pricing is reducing overage for users.

Cloud applications, mobility, and IoT hardware continue to increase. WAN enables a flexible and unified approach to connecting people, places, and things. It combines reach and reliability with greater simplicity, agility, and security.


Datalink Networks


As Datalink Networks has shifts over to the 5G space, we experience faster connectivity, an international coverage, and rock solid security. This immensely improves the way in which we conduct business.

If you ever deal with a slow connection or headaches with your outdated POTS networking system, we want to share this cutting edge technology with you. If you are looking to upgrade your mobility, reaction time and revenue, contact us and we will make this inevitable transition period as easy as possible.

We offer a free and thorough evaluation of your network connectivity via our system health check. Our team of trusted engineers gauge what areas your company is functional in, and what areas are slow and out of date. After the analysis, we offer a plan of attack to maximize efficiency while cutting costs.

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