The End of POTS - What it Means for Monitoring
In 2019 the FCC released order 19-72A1 requiring telephone networks to sunset POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) line connections, clearing the path for carriers to eliminate POTS lines entirely. This order allows carriers to no longer offer discounted rates to competitors for POTS line resale, which will increase the cost of POTS lines significantly.
While this isn’t generally a business concern, as a majority of companies have already migrated to VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) or mobile, the POTS sunset poses a big challenge for devices and systems engineered to use a phone line for monitoring and signaling.
So, if your fire alarms or monitoring systems still use POTS, what should you do? First, learn more about POTS, why it’s going away, and what you should do to prepare for this phase-out.
What Are POTS Lines?
POTS lines are copper-wired telephone lines that use analog technology. They have been used for over 100 years and have an estimated 36 million lines still active despite the phase-out.
re alarm panels, elevator phones), security and monitoring (access control systems, SCADA), and essential lines (fax machines, etc.).
With a modem, POTS has been the easy way to add communication for operations or management to a range of systems and has also been implemented into regulation, such as NFPA 72 and UL 864 for life-safety systems.
Why Are POTS Lines Going Away?
The catalyst for this phase-out is the combination of wireless and VoIP technology has reduced the demand for traditional POTS lines. Maintaining outdated equipment has become expensive and unsustainable—and the FCC has enabled the carriers to phase out their POTS infrastructure.
Due to the physical nature of POTS, lines also do not provide monitoring or remote management, making it an undesirable alternative to digital platforms. Plus, if you replace any portion of the miles of copper that is used to connect a particular site to the Central Station with fiber optic cable, you interrupt the flow of current through the copper and render the connection useless.
With all the advances of telephone companies to digital transmission via fiber optic media, the connection to the Central Station via dedicated or dial-up telephone lines has become untenable.
Next Steps—PSI Can Help
POTS replacement should be a 2022 priority—first to understand the sunset timing with regards to geographies and carriers, and then to plan for alternative solutions in for fire alarm monitoring. The first step is inventorying your actual POTS lines used for monitoring and other systems.
Now is the time to transition to a solution that satisfies the FCC mandate and meets the demands of the digital age. PSI can help. Contact PSI today for a free consultation.
Want to learn more about how POTS will impact your fire alarm monitoring capabilities? Join our live webinar on October 13 on Fire Alarm Monitoring, hosted in partnership with AES. Register now.