Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) Line Replacement

What are POTS lines? What is a POTS line replacement? Why do they need replacing? How does this impact your business? Are you required to do this? Is it going to cost you a fortune? We’re going to answer all those questions. Yes, we are going to provide a solution, but I think what you’ll see at the end of this is that this is a good thing for everyone. It’s going to save you money pretty much immediately, and it’s futureproofing your business. There’s a lot of positive things, so let’s get into this together and we’ll understand it.


POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) is an analog voice transmission phone system implemented over copper twisted pair wires. It is the phone line technology most of us grew up with at home and it is exactly what you think it is: copper wires dangling overhead, carrying your voice from one place to another. The phrase “phone line” is often used, even in an era when more businesses are starting to rely on modern telephone systems like VoIP. A phone line is the quintessential definition of the traditional landline phone system which relies on a physical wire. Hence the term line. The name given for this traditional telephone service is POTS (for plain old telephone service).

POTS networks were created to facilitate voice communication over copper cables that traversed countries and continents, and it has been the standard voice-grade telephone system used by residences and businesses across the world since the 1880’s. But the POTS most of us are familiar with is an upgrade over the rudimentary phone system invented by Alexander Graham Bell.

POTS is a retronym for voice-grade telephone service employing analog signal transmission over copper loops. POTS was the standard service offering from telephone companies from 1876 until 1988 in the United States when the Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) Basic Rate Interface (BRI) was introduced, followed by cellular telephone systems, and voice over IP (VoIP). POTS remains the basic form of residential and small business service connection to the telephone network in many parts of the world. The term reflects the technology that has been available since the introduction of the public telephone system in the late 19th century, in a form mostly unchanged despite the introduction of Touch-Tone dialing, electronic telephone exchanges and fiber-optic communication into the public switched telephone network (PSTN).

The POTS setup has remained virtually the same for decades. There have been many upgrades to usher components of the POTS telephone system into the digital era, but the copper wire connection has weathered the storm. As far as the mechanics of a POTS line go, this phone service works by establishing a dedicated circuit between Point A and Point B for the duration of a transmission. Originally, communication between two parties depended on an operator to manually connect them for the call. But the aspect of switching has been automated, and today the system is almost entirely digital.

 Phone Carriers Are Literally Hanging Up on Plain Old Telephone Services (POTS) Lines

POTS lines have been the backbone of communications for decades. But today, prices are rising. Maintenance response is slowing. And new lines are unavailable in some places.

Due to FCC Forbearance Order 19-72A1, copper telephone lines that support (POTS) lines are an aging infrastructure that is becoming increasingly more expensive to maintain. The FCC and most major telephone providers, such as AT&T, Windstream, Verizon, Lumen & smaller resellers, are making an aggressive POTS replacement push to fiber and wireless connections, with a nationwide roll-out starting in 2022. The push to fiber and wireless connections comes as no surprise. POTS lines are getting less reliable and more expensive, all while offering fewer options than before the digital push.

FCC POTS Lines Forbearance Order 19-72A1

The FCC POTS Lines Forbearance Order 19-72A1 requires that all POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) Lines in the U.S. be replaced with an alternative service by August 2, 2022. FCC POTS Lines Forbearance Order 19-72A1 effectively ushers in an ‘end-of-life’ scenario for traditional analog copper POTS Line systems. This also means that any security or life-saving emergency communication systems still using POTS Lines must be replaced without disruption to continue functioning.

The deadline to replace traditional copper analog POTS Lines has passed, but it’s not too late to make the switch! Due to FCC POTS Lines Forbearance Order 19-72A1, telecommunications carriers, such as AT&T, Windstream, Verizon, Lumens, and smaller resellers, are no longer legally required to service and maintain POTS Lines.

How Does This Affect Your Business?

The impact of FCC POTS Lines Forbearance Order 19-72A1 on businesses, individuals, and industries include:The impact of FCC POTS Lines Forbearance Order 19-72A1 on businesses, individuals, and industries include:

  • An Increase in Monthly Pricing – Telecommunications carriers are increasing pricing for existing POTS lines by 75% – 200% in a concentrated effort to force customer migration away from the outdated, dying POTS Line infrastructure.
  • Continuous Reduction in Provided Support – Telecommunication carriers are no longer required to service POTS Lines, making them obsolete and essentially ‘left-for-dead’ technology. Not only will you be left paying more monthly, but you’ll also be paying for the service of copper analog lines that no longer receive maintenance.

A more crucial factor to consider is how urgent making the switch away from POTS lines is for your business. Critical systems like fax machines, POS systems, ATMs, elevators, security systems, fire alarms, and more will all cease to function as designed if left to operate on POTS lines. This lack of functionality can lead to reduced productivity, loss of revenue, and decreased customer satisfaction for your business. Suppose your emergency 911 systems are still running on traditional copper analog POTS lines. In that case, disrupted service can lead to slower response times, an inability to relay distress, and even loss of life!

Are You Required to Do This?

The Short answer is no, however the carriers are no longer obligated to support and maintain the copper lines. Eventually you will get issued a notice that your analog lines will be discontinued, or your rates will skyrocket. 

How Much Does A POTS Line Cost?

As carriers are retiring copper voice infrastructure and support, costs are skyrocketing. For example, month-to-month rates have increased by over 500% in the past five years in some areas of the U.S. While costs are increasing, the service is deteriorating. Copper line repairs are not prioritized by carriers, SLAs have been eliminated and the time to install new copper lines in some states is 120 days. It’s clear that companies must find a path towards digital transformation. So, the cost right now has gone up to a nationwide average  of $65 – $200 with extreme pricing of $250 – $800 per line, per month plus up to 30% in taxes/fees on POTS lines. In some areas there areas analog POTS lines are not available and customers are receiving notice of discontinued POTS 90-day timeline.

And the reason is the FCC estimates there are still about 36 million lines that exist out there, but that number used to be a lot higher. And as things progress, the telco companies are losing more of these copper line subscriptions. Companies are switching over to VoIP or going digital in some way or the other. So, there’s this massive infrastructure out there that they still must support and it’s extremely expensive. So, the only way they’re going to make their money and to be able to maintain that type of stuff is they’re going to hike the prices up on you. That’s really their only option. So, they’re trying to make up for the lines they’re losing, and you’re the one that must flip the bill.

Why Replace POTS Lines?

While we are very bullish on the longevity of copper, it’s fair to say carriers are slowly phasing out these networks receiving little to no investment, declining service levels, and prices are increasing over time creating the perfect storm.
  • The FCC & Carriers Are Discontinuing Copper-Based Communication Lines
    Starting in 2022, telephone companies, like AT&T, Windstream, Verizon, Lumens & smaller resellers will no longer be obligated to service traditional analog landlines. Don’t be left behind without outdated technology.
  • Landlines Are On The Way Out & Prices Are Skyrocketing
    Check your bills: Telephone companies are increasing the cost of landline service as a way of incentivizing customers to convert to newer and less expensive technology. As time goes on, fewer options will be available for POTS users.
  • Save up to 60% A Month with A POTS Replacement Service
    We can help you experience significant savings and streamline your business communications infrastructure, and your per-line cost won’t go up over time.

Compliant POTS Replacement Solutions

An increasing number of business customers know it’s time to have a plan for a POTS replacement transition. When applications require more than just voice and demand full Time Division Multiplexing (TDM) compatibility, 24/7 remote out-of-band monitoring and enterprise-scale deployment support, Xeta Group can provide a matrix with providers in our portfolio that check all the boxes for your requirements (see matrix sample below).

When it comes to POTS replacements, the decision goes well beyond just cost savings. More than a simple POTS replacement, Xeta Group has several providers in our portfolio that are qualified as an MFVN (Managed Facilities-based Voice Network) device and provides a POTS alternative that is fully compatible with fire, safety and virtually all other analog devices. What’s more, these providers offer 4G LTE connectivity and cellular backup if primary internet access is unavailable.

Remember that regulations didn’t really want you to rely on a simple internet connection to power something like your fire panels or something like that. So, the National Fire Performance Association, or the NFPA wrote requirements stating that communication providers on life safety lines must operate the physical network facilities end to end on site right there where they’re utilized. They didn’t want stuff bouncing all around the cloud if it’s critical stuff. They wanted it residing onsite with the central office. They even dubbed a term for that MFVN (Managed Facilities Voice Network). And they stated the following, only voice services provided by MFVN are allowed under the code.

How Does A Compliant POTS Replacement Solutions Work?

A compliant POTS replacement delivering full analog compatibility, delivering service quality and reliability – and allows a code-compliant network handoff for existing fire or security panels, supporting elevator, blue light and metering applications. Our solution also provides advanced security with end-to-edge encryption on all calls and faxes and is compliant with both HIPAA and PCI requirements.

  • NFPA 72 compliant: As a true MFVN (Managed Facilities-based Voice Network) solution
  • HIPPA: For healthcare and pharmacy applications providing, end-to-edge encryption on all calls and faxes
  • PCI: Data security standards for payment transactions
  • SECURE: End-to-edge encryption on all calls and faxes
  • RELIABLE: 24-hour battery backup, dual SIMs and intelligent failover to PRI; monitored hourly 24/7 with automatic notification for critical alarm and voice circuits*
  • SIMPLE: Minimal inside wiring is required, with the option of a turnkey managed deployment and installation nationwide
  • FLEXIBLE: can support value-added features, including auto-attendant and IVR functionality
  • ECONOMICAL: Consistent pricing across the US with savings of up to 30%, a stable monthly cost for the life of the contract and no up-front capital expenditure

* Some jurisdictions may require wireline connections for certain applications (Fire/Life Safety), and wireline connections may be necessary to furnish service at some locations.

Below is an example of how a POTS Replacement works from one of Xeta Group’s providers. 


Compliant POTS Replacement Applications

Specialty applications that demand full POTS compatibility need a true MFVN (Managed Facilities-based Voice Network) solution. Choose one of Xeta Group’s providers if yor need a reliable POTS replacement for:

  • Fire and Security Alarms (NFPA 72 compliant)
  • Emergency Systems
  • Emergency Call Boxes (Blue Light)
  • Elevator Voice Circuits
  • Gate Entry Access
  • Voice Lines
  • High-Volume or Long-Form Fax Applications (HIPAA Compliant)
  • Meters, SCADA and Many Analog Modems
  • Point of Sale Terminals (POS)
  • Vending Machines
  • HVAC
  • ATM  


Is it worth it? Absolutely! The cost savings alone make it worthwhile upgrading your current POTS lines. With such a significant price increase around the corner, you’ll soon recoup your investment through your lower monthly costs, which begin as soon as your new system is deployed. In addition to reduced costs, here’s a few other reasons to upgrade: 

  • You’ll be future proofing your telecommunication systems and telephone lines by investing in modern technology. 
  • You’ll enjoy improved network connectivity that is more reliable than POTS lines. 
  • You’ll experience minimum downtime, as the upgrades take just a few hours to install and deploy.

Most copper systems have been in place for decades and often businesses have no idea what those lines service. A migration of this scale and scope requires planning, strict quality control, and logistical support. Organizations must address a multitude of factors such as expense, back up protection, security, lead time, rollout capacity and more before the transition.