Saying goodbye to plain old telephone service (POTS lines) | Forest Security
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Saying goodbye to plain old telephone service (POTS lines)

A startling 73% of Americans lived in a household without a landline in 2022, according to the Washington Post. That number has tripled since 2010! Increased dependence on newest technology internet-based systems drastically decreased demand for old traditional landlines in most residences.

Not to mention the extreme rise in cost for POTS lines. A single Hardwired line that used to cost as little as $25/month just a few years back, now jumped to a whopping $250/month. This is being done to push users to an internet or cellular based system.

Why are POTS lines going away?

The FCC has found POTS (plain old telephone service) unsustainable for several reasons.

First, POTS increasingly relies on outdated copper wire infrastructure, which is expensive to maintain.

Second, POTS does not support modern communications needs, such as high-speed data or video.

Third, POTS is not universally available; in many rural areas, it is unavailable or only available at high prices.

As a result of these factors, the FCC has concluded that POTS is no longer an adequate solution for meeting the communications needs of consumers and businesses. The FCC is therefore transitioning to a new approach that will provide universal access to advanced communications services.

This transition will require significant investment and effort, but it is necessary to ensure that all Americans have access to 21st-century communications technologies.

Commercial POTS Services

The commercial industry is not as quick to act as the residential communities. POTS lines are powered by 24 volt DC systems between tip and ring for voice, and 120v AC between ring and ground for ring. And they work when the power goes out.

POTS lines are used in safety, security and monitoring, and essential lines. Examples of safety lines are fire alarm panels, elevator phones, blue-light public safety phones, and others. Security and monitoring lines include burglar alarms, access control systems, SCADA, and other telemetry services. The rest fall into the essential lines bucket like fax machines, point-of-sale machines, etc.

Newest Security Technology Options

So how can the commercial industry safely move away from legacy POTS lines? Several substitute devices for POTS lines exist, some options include:

Wireless alarm devices:

Many emergency services organizations have shifted their POTS requirements for burglar alarms, fire alarms, elevator lines, etc. and are allowing LTE solutions. Cellular communication is more reliable than traditional phone lines. A battery backup is required, there is no need to worry about power failures cutting communications. Cellular dialers are required by NFPA 72 2010 to automatically test the connection 60 minutes, so they can be used as a single communications link.  When upgrading from traditional phones lines, most facilities will opt for a combination of an IP (or VoIP) and a cellular dialer to provide their system with redundant lines of communications.

Digital Phone Lines or Voice Over IP (VoIP) Connections

Functions just like a traditional phone line but uses the Internet to transmit and receive digital signals and convert them to audio (or voice). This will be the primary offering of the telcos. Cable providers and other communication companies also provide VoIP options. Many facilities are already using VoIP as their primary means of telephone communications whether or not their FACPs are currently connected to them. VoIP is the technology used if phone services are through a cable television provider or AT&T U‑verse®, Vonage®, or other such service. If a facility has a newer FACP, the switchover should not pose a great challenge; however, older FACPs may not be compatible with the faster digital phone lines and newer communication protocols. One advantage of older alarm systems when adding a new DAC dialer is that the dialer may upgrade your system from a “dumb” conventional system to a “smart” Contact ID addressable ID system. An addressable system can provide the exact location of the sensor that is in alarm or failure, which can aid the fire department in responding quickly to a particular incident.


  • VoIP Adapter/wireless router with integrated AT: 
  • Many call this solution a “POTS in a box,” and it has multiple ports to connect multiple analog devices. It will replicate POTS lines but it is very important to have backup power connected to this device.
  • VoIP adapter wireless:
  • This is similar to the wired version but has an LTE connection, so traffic runs over the LTE network. LTE has become a strong player as a backup data solution.
  • VoIP adapter wired:
  • This is a device that connects to your data network. It usually has multiple ports that your devices can plug into, so it communicated over IP. This may be a good solution for fax machines and analog phones.


Internet Protocol (IP) Communications

Provide IP connectivity over your facility’s network Internet connection (e.g., LAN, WAN, or cable modem). Unlike VoIP, this connection does not function like a traditional phone line in that there is no audio conversion happening. It is purely two computers communicating over the internet. This will require an external digital fire alarm communicator with an Ethernet port. Again, like VoIP, older FACPs may not be compatible and may require an upgrade.

Radio Communications

Require a radio transmitter and an external roof‑mounted antenna. Some local fire marshals or the authority having jurisdiction prefer either the traditional phone lines or radio communications.  Because of the expense involved, radio communication is typically not the best option when replacing traditional lines, unless mandated by the local authorities.

If a FACP is old it may not be compatible with the new required communication protocols. Yes, this does mean an upgrade is required, but there are many benefits that will offset the cost of an upgrade. A major one, in reference to DAC dialers, is the ability use an addressable ID system. All new FACP will be Contact ID systems. Additionally, newer panels can reduce maintenance and testing expenses. They can pinpoint a faulty sensor and perform automatic sensitivity testing. Newer panels can also mean fewer expensive false alarms. The panels must also meet the current UL requirements, which meet the latest industry standards.

Forest Security has been in the forefront of visualizing technological advances throughout the industry and has been providing you with all the security solutions prior to there ever being a risk to your home or business.


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