POTS in a Box - A POTS Replacement

POTS in a Box – A POTS Replacement

Recent changes to US regulations mean that carriers are gradually sunsetting copper lines. This has brought rise to a solution called POTS in a box.

The following is an overview of the upcoming changes, what you can expect to see if you are still using POTS services, and your options for a POTS replacement.

If you have questions or are interested in exploring POTS line replacements further, contact Brightlio today.  We would love to assist.

A Brief History of Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS)

If you’ve been in the technology space for a couple of decades or more (like I have), you remember fondly (or not so fondly) the dominance of Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS).

The POTS network, a vast network of physical copper wires that once connected every telephone on earth, has been around since Alexander Graham Bell in the 1880s.  While the network has evolved and been upgraded over the decades, the basic principles remain A copper cable, or “line,” connected telephone users to the telephone network.  That line connected back to a carrier’s network.  The customer paid for service; in return, the carrier maintained the line.

As vast copper networks were costly to install and maintain, they provided monopoly power to the local exchange carrier (ILEC) that owned the copper.  To increase competition, the federal government forced ILECs to give access to their POTS network to competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs) at discounted rates.  This was passed into law in the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

Times, they are a-changin’.  Copper is no longer the only transport medium for phone and internet service.  Additionally, many consumers have cut the cord, no longer relying on copper connections.  Rather than increasing competition, the regulations now place an enormous financial burden on the ILECs to maintain aging copper networks that are rapidly becoming obsolete.

In August 2019, the FCC declared they were removing the requirement for ILECs to maintain copper infrastructure.  This went into effect on August 22nd, 2022.

Are POTS lines going away?

No.  POTS lines are not going away.

There is some confusion that the FCC’s mandate eliminated POTS lines as of August 22nd, 2022.  This is not the case.  The FCC only allowed carriers to stop copper line service when they choose.

And ILECs can’t turn off service that quickly.  Millions of customers still use copper lines, and there are many communities where copper is the only connectivity medium. 

So, while this does not mean the immediate end of POTS lines, it does mean that carriers are phasing out copper services as quickly as they can where they can.  For instance, AT&T announced they will decommission 50% of their POTS network by 2025.  Verizon, Lumen, and other providers are also sunsetting services in specific geographies.  They are moving customers to broadband services like AT&T fiber and Verizon FIOS as a POTS replacement.

What if I don’t want to move?

If you don’t want to move off POTS lines, be prepared for some sticker shock.  Prices for POTS services are getting way more expensive.  In some cases, prices are increasing by 100% or more.  We’ve seen prices of $1,500 per POTS line or more.

So what’s the problem?  I can move my POTS services over to fiber, right?

Not so fast.  Many technologies rely on copper for connectivity.  Upgrading these systems is expensive and complicated.  Door alarms, fire alarms, E-911 systems, fax machines, and elevators are all systems that depend on copper connectivity.  Many of these systems must comply with municipal codes and require certification, making replacing copper lines even more complex.

Also, copper services don’t need power, unlike fiber or other services requiring a powered router.  This makes copper an ideal transport medium for mission-critical services.

So how do we fill the gap left by copper?  This is where POTS in a box comes in.

What is POTS in a Box?

POTS in a box is an enterprise-grade LTE router with WAN and LAN ports.  The POTS in a box unit connects directly to your internet service provider.  It then has copper RJ-11 ports (the traditional four-pin connector for terminating telephone wires) to connect to your devices that require copper.

Additionally, the unit has a slot for a SIM card which connects the unit to the LTE network.  If the internet service provider goes down, the service is switched to the LTE network.  Many units support dual SIM cards for multi-carrier redundancy.

And, while I’ve heard it called “POTS over LTE,” that’s not entirely correct.  Most of the time, the traffic traverses a wired internet connection.  The LTE service is used as a backup.

What if the power goes out?  POTS in a box units have a backup battery to provide 24 hours of backup power.

POTS in a box addresses all the concerns of moving away from copper lines.  Legacy systems can still connect to the network.  Backup is provided via LTE in the event of an internet circuit failure.

Battery backup powers the unit in the event of a power failure.

How do I buy POTS in a Box?

POTS in a box solutions are typically sold as a monthly service.  Rather than paying for the POTS lines, you purchase a broadband internet service with a POTS in a box appliance.  The service includes:

  • A POTS in a box appliance
  • Professional configuration and installation
  • Remote monitoring and management

Ooma Networks POTS Replacement

A fantastic option for POTS line replacements is Ooma Networks AirDial. Ooma AirDial is an all-in-one POTS replacement the comes with a dedicated wireless internet connection, hardware, and software at a single monthly cost. Each unit supports up to four life safety system devices and comes with a battery backup that keeps the AirDial working for at least 8-hours after power failure.

Ooma AirDial also helps meets a host of compliance standards. These include PCI, HIPAA, FNP 72, UL 2054, UL 864, UL 62368-1, NFPA 72, and more. Finally, it is MFVN-compliant ensuring network traffic never traverses the insecure public internet. These features makes AirDial a great fit for fire safety, elevator safety, and other use cases.

AirDial allows you to migrate your POTS lines easily using your existing safety systems. The solution is easy to self install. Alternatively, Ooma offers an installation service.

If you are interested in cost for Ooma AirDial, please contact Brightlio.

Why Brightlio for POTS in a box?

Are you interested in learning more about POTS in a box solutions?  Brightlio can help.

We partner with the best service providers in the POTS in a box space and can provide solutions for customers anywhere in North America.  We help you design and quote the solution free of charge.  As a telecommunications broker, our services are free to you.  We receive a commission from the service provider without impacting your pricing.

In addition to POTS replacement solutions, we offer a wealth of network connectivity, unified communications, colocation, cloud, and advisory services.  We welcome to opportunity to partner with you.

Get started with Brightlio today!