Copper Lines (POTS) May Soon Go Extinct

epik pots and pri replacement lines with CU 2.0

Here’s something you may not have known: copper telephone lines are going extinct. In fact, top U.S. carriers like AT&T and Verizon have already outlined plans to discontinue copper landline service in nearly half of the U.S.

And those plans were approved in 2017.

The reality is that copper lines are expensive to install and maintain. Furthermore, they don’t provide the kind of unified communications (UC) that digital infrastructure can provide. This means that landlines, fax machines, life safety applications like fire alarms and elevators, and other traditional systems won’t be supported by many U.S. carriers.

Is your credit union ready?

Why Copper Is Disappearing

Copper lines cost a lot to install and maintain. Not only that, but the material investment—the capital expenditure (CapEx)—is large, too. To top it all off, copper lines don’t have the flexibility that digital communications infrastructure provides.

Today, most people use cell phones instead of landlines. There’s a lot more VoIP around than there are clunky handsets. Not only that, but a lot of traditional analog infrastructure is largely antiquated (looking at you, fax machines).

Consequently, there hasn’t been enough use of and demand for plain old telephone systems (POTS). POTS networks are going the way of the dodo because there is no demand for them.

So, because very few people still use these old copper networks, carriers can no longer cover costs with volume. Instead, they have to push margin. And that’s making these outdated networks very expensive. Like, very expensive, with price increases of more than 500%!

(And don’t get us started on the cost to repair or maintain these networks! Yeesh.)


When Will Carriers Sunset POTS?

To get a truly accurate answer to that question, you’d have to ask each carrier individually. Many carriers have already begun phasing out their POTS service. AT&T and Verizon started eliminating POTS service years ago, and their plans were to discontinue copper support as soon as possible.

That is, for some carriers, POTS is on its deathbed now. You can’t and shouldn’t build it into your 5-year plan.

However, the actual timelines are a little less clear. Verizon intended to discontinue support for POTS devices starting in 2020. They’ve been pushing fiber, but we haven’t confirmed if they’ve fully made the switch quite yet.

AT&T suggests they’ll sunset POTS in the next couple of years (in 2022). Other carriers are sure to follow suit—there’s just no money (and no future) in copper service.


POTS to VoIP Conversions

There are ways to convert POTS networks to VoIP and digital infrastructure. If your credit union is using older analog systems, you’ll need to start thinking about a replacement strategy immediately.

Tearing out copper is an expensive proposition. And many conversion strategies may not provide the kind of non-telephone support that credit unions need. For example, some conversions allow only for telephone, with no support for fire alarm, point of sale (POS), fax, etc.

Therefore, any conversion strategy will need to build in redundancy, support for UC networks, and enhanced performance and reliability.

Ultimately though, money talks. POTS to VoIP and digital infrastructure conversions can save anywhere from 20–60% of the cost per line over copper.


Additional Reading

The way people, businesses, and consumers communicate is changing. If COVID-19 has taught us anything about our existing technology, it’s taught us that the way we do business and keep in touch are completely different than they were just a couple short decades ago.

Supporting UC networks and digital communications systems is necessary now more than ever. After this pandemic ends, we’ll probably hold more meetings over Zoom. We’ll collaborate through digital channels more often. We’ll keep in touch over multiple channels—and almost none of them will be analog.

But if your telecom system is stuck in the past, you may have a harder time keeping up. Especially if carriers keep increasing prices while decreasing support.

Does your credit union run on a POTS network? Are you worried about the high cost and disappearing support for it?

If you answered “yes” to either question, then fill out the form below and learn how to save 20–60% on your telecom costs by converting your copper lines to digital infrastructure.

Wanna read more of our blog? Click the links below!

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