Replacement Strategies for Copper Telephone Service (POTS Sunset)

In 2017, the FCC gave the go-ahead to telecom providers to sunset their Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) lines. In many states, the change has already begun. In others, the retirement of copper lines is just around the corner.

AT&T and Verizon have plans to discontinue support for POTS lines across much of the country in the next few years. And if you think this only affects residential landlines, you’d be very wrong. This change impacts many larger organizations like hotels, government buildings, and financial institutions.

Not only that, but this affects more than just landlines. Fire and burglar alarms, faxes, elevators, and point of sale (POS) solutions also run on copper. Converting analog to digital communications infrastructures is a big deal.

So, there are a few ways to deal with this POTS line sunset. Without going too deep into detail, here are three options.

1.  Stick with copper lines

For most businesses and states, the end of analog communications might still take several years. Consequently, any organization technically has the option to do nothing about it for a while.

Sticking with copper as long as possible certainly solves one pressing issue. That is, it allows organizations to focus on other priorities in the meantime. And with COVID-19 still spreading, there are other issues to focus on.

However, that doesn’t make it a great option. Copper telecom service is increasingly expensive—the average cost per line has increased dramatically in recent years.

So, yes, sticking with copper may be an option, but it presents extraordinary operating expenses (OpEx). Overall, this option isn’t financially prudent.


2.  Install digital/fiber infrastructure

Thanks to the FCC, the incoming POTS line sunset may be a boon to digital transformation. For organizations with the resources, conversion to digital telecom infrastructure may be smart. This would provide a strong foundation for modern unified communications (UC) systems.

However, this is no small task. Removing old copper and replacing it with fiber takes planning, time, and money.  Especially as the country grapples with a pandemic, a solution of this magnitude could be prohibitively involved.

Nevertheless, completely installing new infrastructure will cut copper OpEx considerably… albeit at the cost of capital expenditure (CapEx).


3.  Convert POTS to digital

The third option is a POTS to fiber media converter. There are a couple devices out there that convert copper line signals to digital ones.

These conversions vary in efficacy and scope. Some simply convert POTS to VoIP, which would be insufficient for enterprise-level situations. However, some devices can handle it all:

  • Life safety devices and alarms
  • Faxes
  • Elevators
  • POS solutions
  • 4G backup/failover

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

Thus, to save on both CapEx and OpEx, a POTS to fiber media conversion device is worth a look.


Additional Reading

The importance of digital communication is constantly increasing—especially as most of the U.S. and Canada are working from home. And if your telecom infrastructure is still copper-based, things will only get harder and more expensive from here.

POTS to VoIP conversions can save anywhere from 20–60% per line on telecom costs. Therefore, replacing copper telephone service is a critical step in balancing the budget and in digital transformation.

Does your organization 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 to discuss copper to digital telecom conversion.

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