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POTS is going away! Do you know how that will affect your Gated Community?

POTS stands for Plain Old Telephone Service, the old style copper, aka analog, telephone lines that have provided reliable service for hundreds of years.

I suspect many of you don’t know what Dial Up Modem Service is? Do you remember, or have you ever heard of, AOL? AOL was a dial up modem internet service established in 1985 in the U.S.

Surprisingly, today dial up modem service still remains the primary means used to connect to the majority of Telephone Entry Systems (TES) across the nation. Therefore much of the existing equipment was designed for and possibly still utilizes POTS lines.

The Transition Away from POTS

With modern technology progressing and the high cost of maintaining copper lines, these traditional land lines are becoming less and less common among consumers.

Many major carriers have decided to shut off copper POTS lines in an effort to eliminate copper POTS lines by 2020. Service fees have been steadily increasing over the years, and some services have been terminated. According to the FCC, there are still more than 36 million POTS lines in the United States and the average cost for a line is $65 per month.

However, many POTS lines are still in use for numerous reasons:

  • They provide access to 911 emergency services for elevators, fire panels, alarm systems, gate directories etc.
  • They are used in most businesses as modems, fax, out of band management applications and phones.

We have customers across the area who have already been impacted by the use of digital phone service to devices designed for analog service. How many residents actually have land lines for local service? Today, most people utilize a cellular phone that rarely has a local prefix because people keep their same number even when moving out of the area. With most existing phone services the association is paying for local and long distance service at the TES.

Thankfully, today there are multiple options to consider. Depending on what equipment you have those options vary. Most of these solutions solve more than one of these issues. There are proprietary options compatible with certain equipment, cellular devices, conversion appliances as well as internet-based systems with cloud management.

What to be doing to future proof your community

Alternate solutions will be necessary to implement and replace all of the copper lines soon. Some of the more common issues we’ve encountered include instability of connection to TES units in the field. Cellular phone numbers automatically sending the call’s to voicemail or not ringing at all. Be mindful that when you switch an existing TES in the field to digital service such as COX you may encounter unexpected side effects.

There isn’t an exact deadline at this time to eliminate POTS lines altogether but services are continually converting to digital. Keeping this in mind when making decisions around replacing equipment or service providers it’s in your best interest to get advice from a licensed contractor.


Gena Allison

Gate Access Services