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What’s New with POTS / POTS-in-a-Box in 2024?

This year has already served up some fascinating shifts in the Plain Old Telephony Service, or POTS, landscape. So, what’s the state of the POTS infrastructure?

pots pots in a box
Matt Pinto

Mar 28, 2024

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This year has already served up some fascinating shifts in the Plain Old Telephony Service, or POTS, landscape. So, what’s the current state of the POTS infrastructure, and how can you future-proof your business for the shift away from traditional POTS services? The Lightyear team is here with the information you need to know to make the right decisions for your business.

The Global State of POTS

In the UK, new POTS installations are a thing of the past. POTS services will be sunsetted on December 31st, 2025, however, the US landscape is more complicated. In 2019, the Federal Communications Commission deregulated copper lines, allowing suppliers to phase out support and replace the infrastructure with modern technologies (fiber and wireless) to support new digital applications as of August 2, 2022. Today, service providers are exponentially increasing POTS rates as a result of the rising costs of maintaining antiquated copper infrastructure. Some providers are charging as much as $1,300 for a single POTS line, which makes it difficult to justify the cost.

POTS in voice-only environments sees little to no demand. Instead, Voice Over IP (VOIP) technologies do an amazing job of providing a suitable replacement technology for voice communications. Add the widespread adoption of mobile devices for voice, and interest in traditional POTS is at an all-time low.

What If My Business Needs POTS Services?

That’s great. If you still need POTS-style services for your business, there are two primary categories that continue to drive POTS use. Legacy technologies that only function with a POTS line, and public safety use cases that require POTS lines for regulatory purposes.

Legacy Technologies:

  • Fax 

  • POS (Point of Sale) Terminals

  • Vending Machines

  • ATM Machines

Public Safety Uses:

  • Alarms

  • Elevators

  • Voice connectivity to E-911 operations

If you need to replace POTS solutions in your business, the procurement process remains like any other tech-driven procurement.

  • Conduct a needs assessment

  • Search for and compare solutions and providers

  • Select the most appropriate service

  • Deploy a proof of concept (POC) to ensure the solution/provider meets your needs

  • Complete the procurement and deployment process

Several Managed POTS replacement service providers specialize in meeting POTS replacement needs. They often blur the line between managed service providers (MSPs) and aggregators. However, they can assist with the following.

  • Site surveys to tag, locate, and prep POTS lines for transition,

  • Procurement assistance and cost-bundling, and

  • Full installation services.

There are also several legacy POTS replacement technologies for faxing, specifically, that are both relevant and meet many use cases, including the following.

  • Fax to Email: Ideal for limited faxing and non-compliance-regulated documents

  • Online Faxing: There is a wide range of offerings for almost any use case. Costs will vary significantly, including monthly subscription and per-page fees, so choose carefully. 

  • Premises-based SIP Fax Servers: These are more complex than plug-and-play, old-school fax setups. However, there are several MSPs with solutions, although configuration issues can be frustrating.

  • Analog Telephone Adapters (ATA): ATAs are well-established and well-suited for basic fax services. As with fax servers, they can be complex (and sometimes frustrating) to set up if there are compatibility issues.

pots replacement pots in a box diagram

Improvements in the POTS Space

Traditionally, compliance has been a sticking point for companies reluctant to shift to POTS replacement technologies. In the past, alternative solutions were still weaker. Now, however, most of the compliance areas standard VoIP doesn’t cover are achievable via specialist POTS Replacement VoIP service providers. 

This ensures sticky compliance issues such as encrypted, unstored transmissions for the Payment Card Industry, HIPAA encryption for the medical industry, and the National Fire Protection Association-Code 72 (NFPA-72) for fire-alarm panels can be met. There are also a few third-party equipment certification companies (like UL Solutions) that have created equipment standards for the POTS replacement industry.

Those already using a Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) provider will find that most providers already account for POTS replacement in their offerings. If you’re already on a UCaaS platform, you should strategize with your UCaaS Provider on viable options for your needs. If you aren’t using UCaaS, now is a great time to decide whether cloud-based telephony would be a good fit for your organization.

Are you in the middle of an enterprise business POTS replacement journey? Feeling overwhelmed by the options and tech on the market? You aren’t alone! POTS was a simple technology to adopt and deploy. Replacing POTS lines that are currently deployed with mission-critical and life-saving roles can be daunting. Luckily, the Lightyear Telecom Operating System can help you with your POTS replacement journey. The Lightyear platform will help align your enterprise business needs with viable POTS replacement solutions and providers to ensure that you are well covered during this shift. Please be in touch if we can help you.

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