Over the last several months there have been countless articles written about the state of POTS (plain old telephone services) lines and their demise. Copper, analog lines aren’t going to disappear and stop working overnight while there are big changes coming to services that were traditionally served by those products. Here are the realities you can expect as these transitions take place.
Reality 1: Costs will rise. Most carriers have increased their charges for out-of-contract POT Services. Some have increased by 400% or more.
Reality 2: It will take longer to get service issues resolved.
Reality 3: New services may not be available at any cost.
POT Services are Still Needed
Organizations need to continue to provide for and support the applications that have historically relied on POTs services.
Fire alarms, burglar alarms, elevator phones, and other services have used POTs lines and the functionality needs to be maintained. Some industries – such as health care and legal services – have relied on traditional phone lines for FAX transmission. Many retailers use POTs lines for their Point-of-Sale systems.
What Should You Do?
- The first step is to establish a baseline of all services and applications that are copper based. It is important to review all vendor contracts to determine the status of the term, when it expires, and what the vendor options are at the end of the term. If the service is out of term, you need to determine when and if the pricing will change and by how much.
- Consider the alternatives if your analysis shows that costs will be rising. Most organizations’ facilities have an internet connection, but to assume that you can move the current analog services to the internet service is probably an oversimplification. For example, there may be some regulatory issues to consider. For medical applications, HIPAA is a requirement, as is PCI for retail, and serious compliance considerations exist for fire alarm systems and NFPA 72.
- Start a conversation with your current vendors early in the process. Many have indicated that they have products and services either currently available or planned for future deployment. They understand the severity of the issue and want to keep you as a customer. Some vendors can rapidly implement solutions without a major change to your existing infrastructure. Some services can be added to your existing network and others can use alternative technologies such as (long-term evolution) LTE (cellular).
- AT&T has announced AT&T Phone for Business – Advanced which is a cloud-based replacement for traditional phone and data lines. It provides analog Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) connections that can also support dedicated specialty lines such as fax, alarm lines, elevators, and point-of-sale terminals. It also has LTE capabilities and battery backup.
- MetTel has a “POTS in a Box” offering that connects with broadband, 4G LTE and/or Wi-Fi. Cellular can be the primary connection or used as a backup in the event of a primary circuit failure. It is also NFPA 72 fire code compliant.
- Ooma addresses the POTS replacement issue with a solution that rides on a wireless network. With this solution, there is no need to replace existing hardware. You can continue using your existing devices.
The point is this – there are changes coming to the traditional analog, copper infrastructure and you need to either prepare for them in an organized, proactive way or you’ll eventually be stuck with rising costs and limited vendor resources.
The best way to be proactive is to become aware of your options and alternatives. Talk to your vendors to discover what their plans are. If you don’t have the in-house resources or the time, consider engaging a technology consultant. Abilita’s independent, objective consultants specialize in cost reduction, technology review and recommendations, and contract negotiations and are ready to assist. Watch our brief video through the link below to learn how we can help, then give us a call!