18. May 2022 Blog

What is a POTS line and Why Should you Get Rid of it?

illustration POTS MAIN

Everything’s going digital – including the way we make calls. 

The good old copper phone lines haven’t completely vanished yet, but it’s only a matter of time until they do. In the US, 20 states have already passed a bill that allows A&T phone carriers to end their support for landlines for good. 

The world is going mobile, for sure. However, businesses have also spotted a demand for moving forward with technology. Since old systems are expensive to manage and do not provide a great ROI, the time has come  to make the switch. 

Yet, not every business has decided yet to get rid of their POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service – the analog line they’ve been using for a long time)

Are you one of them?

Let’s find out together what POTS is and why getting rid of it can allow you to hit the jackpot.

What is POTS?

POTS, short for Plain Old Telephone Service (sometimes also called public switched telephone network or PSTN) is a traditional analog voice transmission system.

Whenever you dial a phone number and speak a traditional handset, your voice is transformed into an electric signal and passed to the call recipient along copper wires. The tones you can hear during the call are signals sent through copper wires, as they connect your phone to a local exchange. 

In its early days, the system was known as Post Office Telephone Service, because customers had to rely on postal office operators to handle their calls. Once the whole process became automated and moved away from postal offices, the term was changed to Plain Old Telephone Service, but the acronym remained the same.

How does a POTS line work?

Making phone calls in the past was not as easy as it is now. 

To reach the other person, you needed the help of an operator who would receive and then manually route the call to the final destination. They would do this by plugging copper wires into a common patch panel. 

The longer the distance between the parties, the more work the operators needed to do. This consequently upped the price of the call.

POTS helped bring call costs down by placing “switches” at specific points in the network. Through those, the call could be automatically routed to either local, national or international locations. As a result, there was no longer any need for a human operator. 

How POTS works in the modern era

The network switch “listens” to the tones that have been dialed and interprets the phone number as the location you want to reach. Then it routes your call through one or several switches until it finally reaches the person or company you want to call. 

The most important part here is that POTS has to keep the calling switches open for the whole conversation, so the electric impulses can travel from one device to another. The longer the distance between the callers, the more switches need to stay open. This tends to lead to higher call costs. 

That’s how it still works for traditional calls, but what about those coming from or going to a business? In this case, the call is directed to a Private Branch Exchange (PBX) which acts as a switch inside the company’s office and connects multiple phones working on-site.     

POTS for businesses – what you should know?

Analog telephone lines are regarded as reliable and secure. 

However, many businesses are already migrating to VoIP simply because of a lack of features compared to a traditional phone line. 

Besides a few areas like elevator emergency lines, fax lines, or emergency phone line services, where POTS lines are still useful, analog phone lines are simply falling short of modern businesses’ expectations and needs. 

Let’s take mobility as an example.

Remote work is a huge thing now, with more and more employees wanting to work from home. By 2028, it’s predicted that 73% of all companies will have remote workers.

POTS definitely does not facilitate such a switch. 

Landlines are tied to the building they are installed in, which means that taking calls when not on-premises is simply impossible. 

Needless to say, then, that any form of remote work is out of the question.

How Much Does a POTS Phone System Cost?

One of the biggest issues associated with POTS lines is the cost.

If you want to set up a phone line in your new office, you need to pay for however many meters of copper wires that are required, the necessary hardware and you would also need to hire a technician to install everything. 

You also need to purchase compatible PBX devices, together with some additional, but necessary, PBX features like call transfers, intercom, or call forwarding. Add to this the cost of international calling and IT technician fees; the costs quickly mount up. 

But the real problem here is the growing costs of maintaining the copper lines. After years of being in service, the telephone poles and wiring require increasingly frequent maintenance to keep them from breaking down.

What makes it even more difficult is that replacement parts are barely available,  as they are often no longer produced. The technicians who can maintain the lines are also becoming scarce, as many of them have already retired. 

All of this means that it’s getting more challenging to keep those lines operating, and so the costs of analog phone calls in many locations are increasing as well.

POTS and business calling features

The number of features POTS can offer is nowhere near what businesses nowadays need. Landlines typically offer very limited business calling features. If you want to have additional business calling features within your POTS, then you typically need to buy it as an add-on to your PBX system. 

If you’ve had to buy those extra add-ones or even just considered them, then you know that PBX add-on features come attached with a hefty price tag. The more features you need, the larger your monthly bill becomes. That’s why many businesses with shoe-string budgets try to operate within POTS, but without any extra options. 

Even if you have paid for a premium PBX plan, you have probably noticed at some point that the system is pretty limited for modern day expectations

Can you hold a video call through the analog PBX? You can’t. Check the caller’s ID and account history before you answer the call? No way. Sharing files through the phone? Not an option. 

What about increasingly popular business tools such as auto-attendants, personalized greetings, auto-dialers or callback? Try as you might, but you won’t find an analog PBX system capable of handling those features. But, this is where VoIP comes to the rescue.

POTS vs VoIP: which one to choose?

Whereas POTS is the analog way of making calls, VoIP is the digital equivalent. Rather than relying on a set of cables and several pieces of hardware, VoIP technology uses the Internet and a router to operate. Many companies have already opted to switch from POTS to VoIP not only because it’s simpler to use, and more economic, but because it boasts more features. 

There is mobile as middle ground, but mobile calls simply lack the features and the robustness of a VoIP call center. Mobile calls are far more flexible and modern, but they don’t have any features like auto attendants, IVR, callback, skills-based routing and others.

With that in mind, let’s see how VoIP technology compares with POTS when it comes to mobility, costs, and capabilities.

Mobility 

This is one of VoIP’s strongest points. As long as theyhave a stable internet connection and can access the VoIP service, your employees don’t need to be physically present in the office to answer internet calls. They can be at home, at a café, or even in the local park. They can also pick the devices they’d like to work on. If they need to, they can even switch devices; for example, their desk phone for the mobile phone, and carry on using a VoIP solution, as long as the software is installed.   

Costs

Do you have reliable internet access and a device that can connect to it? Then all you need is a VoIP platform subscription plan and you are ready to start making and taking calls through the internet. That makes VoIP platforms far cheaper to start using, even for companies with tight budgets. 

The calling costs are also far lower –  according to Harbor Networks, on average, businesses can save $1,727 per month on mobile and long-distance calls when using VoIP. For startups, the cost savings are even more impressive, reaching 90%.

Capabilities

Just compare the features that VoIP platforms offer to those in PBXs. VoIP systems are packed full of useful tools; many of which are not available even in the most premium PBX plans. 

Let’s have a look at some features available within VoIP, specifically CloudTalk:

  • IVR menu, 
  • Video conferencing
  • Call forwarding, 
  • Call recording
  • Analytic and reporting tools
  • Toll-free or short numbers
  • Call Queuing
  • Text messages

All of those features and far more are available right at the start and with no extra cost to you. Even better, is that you can integrate the VoIP platform with dozens of business tools your team is using; from email platform to CRM or your help desk. Wouldn’t that make collaboration and teamwork much smoother if everyone had all of the data they needed in one place?

Learn how to choose a right VoIP package.

Let’s Recap

To make it easier for you to see just how well VoIP compares to traditional POTS lines,  let’s have a quick recap of the pros and cons of each:

POTSVoIP

Ease of use

Simple to use for anyone.  Learning how to use a VoIP system might require a bit of time.
Resilience
 
Works in an emergency situation – you should keep it for the emergency line.
Reliant on electricity and internet connection – may need an emergency power source.


Installing costs

You need to add a dedicated phone line and hardware – can be costly.No hardware (besides a router) needed.

Flexibility

Very limited flexibility and scalability.Incredibly flexible and scalable.

Calling costs

Call charges (especially international) are high. Reduction in call expenses – the only monthly cost is a VoIP subscription.

Number of features

Adding more features to your PBX is usually very expensive. Several valuable features are included, free of charge.

Our verdict?  Using VoIP over POTS has a much lighter impact on companies’ budgets whilst providing an incredible amount of flexibility. But there are some places where landlines can still be useful. For example, if you live in areas where internet connection is slow, then it might be a good idea to keep holding onto the copper lines as your emergency system. In short, VoIP is the way of the future, but it’s good to have POTS to rely on if your internet connection drops out. Simply forward your VoIP calls to a POTS line in case of an emergency and you’re good to go.

Conclusion 

Due to how long POTS has been around, it’s understandable that some businesses are hesitant about adopting VoIP. However, the benefits VoIP can give to companies far outweigh those of using traditional analog telephone systems. 

Flexibility, mobility, a wide range of features, and cost; VoIP wins in all those categories. 
As a final thought, you need to keep it in mind that as the POTS lines are slowly being shut down, it will become harder, and more expensive, for you to keep using your office landline. So maybe now would be a good moment to find out what Cloudtalk’s VoIP solution has to offer, and see the benefits for yourself?


Try your risk-free 14-day CloudTalk trial now and find out for yourself!

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