Can a Business With a Phone System or Hosted Phone System Remove a Pots Line Away From Critical Emergency Services Like Elevators or Fire Alarms?

April 1st, 2022 by admin

Close up of a fire alarm on a brick wall.

Currently, There Is a Long-Term Process of Eliminating Analog Telephone Lines in the Communications Space, AKA Plain Old Telephone Service (POTs)

Here at ATEL Communications, we have a firm understanding of this shifting landscape. Emergency communications providers spend plenty of time thinking about how to best meet the needs of their customers. ISPs and voice service providers have always focused on lowering the cost of services while keeping their services easy to use. As most customers switch away from older analog lines to VOIP, sometimes there is a trade-off. Landlines are becoming fewer and fewer as more Internet service providers rip up old copper infrastructure and replace it with cheaper, more efficient Fiber Optics or Ethernet infrastructure. Digital Phone or VOIP servicers now have a wider range of customers. From smaller single Office Businesses, Corporate Office Buildings, and multi-family residential spaces, this trend will affect all of us in the longer term – if it hasn't done so already. As the trend continues, you may ask yourself, what can I do to stay ahead of the technological curve & what are the options available to me as Telecom Infrastructure moves away from copper?

AT&T and the FCC, the acronyms that everyone knows when it comes to Voice and Data transmission, are the main culprits behind this migration. Without getting into too much history on how or why we got to this technological shift, we just need to know that POTs (plain old telephone service) lines and the PSTNs (public switched telephone networks) are over a century old – yes, you read that correctly, some of this Telecom Infrastructure is well over 100 years old.

But what does that really mean, and where does that leave you, the consumer?

To fully answer that question, we need to define what a POTs line is. Also, more importantly, what are the key differences between analog, digital, cellular, mobile, wireless, and VoIP?

  • Analog Lines (plain old telephone services) service the PSTN by making a connection through copper wiring. POTs transmit voice signals into electronic signals/pulses. This has been the standard voice system across the globe since the 1880s, and it is still very reliable today. You'll still notice telephone poles strung with wires when you're driving down the road. RPU or Revenue Per User from POTS lines have been steadily waning, and with new technologies forcing their way into the space, it doesn't make sense to invest more money in what is becoming an outdated system. Can consumers really blame the telecommunication giants for their logic here? I don't think so. However, the advantages of analog have traditionally been two-fold. First, you can maintain voice service if or when your power goes down. Secondly, when an emergency 911 call is made from a serviceable phone within the PSTN, it can easily help emergency service providers identify the location you are calling from.
  • Digital lines connect through digital cabling like Ethernet or Fiber Optics. The signaling process uses radio waves. Voice signals are compressed into binary code or bits and sent over a more efficient and less costly transmission line(s). Although digital lines provide better sound clarity, the data may not necessarily be more accurate than analog transmission lines since it depends on how much information is transmitted. Internet outages/routing can cause voice data to bottleneck. Instead of dropping the signal altogether, the ISP finds what data is missing and replace missing data with generic 0's and 1's to ensure that the voice connection stays stable. This is commonly referred to in the industry as Packet Loss.
  • VoIP (voice over internet protocol) converts analog signals to digital via the internet. Even though most Modern-Day Businesses are moving toward this type of service or signaling, we do not recommend using VoIP for your emergency phones/services.
  • Mobile simply means a device requires an internal battery for power and antennae to receive a wireless signal from the nearest Data Transmission Tower. Mobile means that you can take it with you from place to place wherever you have reception. For example, the iPhone in your pocket is a mobile device.
  • Wireless does not mean mobile (portable) but rather refers to the network - Such as a local area network (LAN) which uses a router to make what was once a cabled connection wireless, or wide area network (WAN), which uses 3G or 4G technology.
  • Cellular is a two-way radio connection. This can ride over a network where the last link in that network is wireless.

Ok, did you get all that? Does all this make sense to you now? If you're like me, then probably not. But, this is what the average customer must deal with in terms of available options & Tech Jargon. So how does one navigate through all this technology and choose the right service for their Business?

FOR EMERGENCY SERVICES, THIS IS ONE OF THE EASIEST SOLUTIONS (There are other solutions as well): One of the easiest solutions uses an ADA-compliant hands-free device, but it eliminates your dependence on POTS lines. A cellular transceiver is placed outside of the concrete, with the cellular unit positioned for signal strength & access to power. The signal is then sent via a cellular communicator through a local wireless service provider. In the end, copper wiring is still required to connect that communicator to the elevator within the building until one day, buildings eventually rip out their copper infrastructure and replace it with digital wiring. That's a whole separate Blog or conversation, so we'll save that for another day. This is only one of the many solutions, but there are plenty more.

Finally, when thinking about emergency communications, isn't a POTS line the best choice then? Not necessarily. One thing is certain, choosing which service is better for your business can be a daunting & scary process. Rest assured, ATEL Communications is here to assist you with your Technological Telecom upgrades. We have helped many customers navigate the ever-moving landscape of cutting-edge Business Phone Systems, Hosted Phone Systems, VOIP, and Digital Voice Systems. As a Telecom Broker, we can recommend the best ISP's in your area to ensure that the reliable equipment that we provide can also be serviced by a reliable Service Provider that we recommend during our consultation process.

Posted in: Business Phone Systems, Communications, Services