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How Government Agencies Can Stay Ahead of POTS Replacement

government technology connection

Wireline Decommissioning & POTS Replacement – Current State

About 10 years ago I asked my parents to upgrade their internet service from DSL to the local carrier fiber-based service. My mom was all in because it meant better video calls with her grandkids. My dad was dubious. He was concerned because he heard that once you move your voice line to fiber you can never go back to the old copper circuit. He was right, but little did he realize that everyone would eventually lose their copper line. Being in the industry, I was able to explain this to him, along with the benefits of upgrading to fiber. Each time we had the conversation, he listened and acknowledged, but he kept returning to his primary concern – losing that copper line he had his entire life…

The retirement of POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) by local carriers is accelerating. Verizon actually started retiring their copper plant over a decade ago, while AT&T, CenturyLink/Lumen, and Frontier began their copper retirement initiatives in the last few years. While the thought of losing traditional phone lines may not seem that impactful to companies and government agencies, it is important to remember that some critical communications lines still rely on the POTS network. These include fire alarms, emergency elevator phones, and security systems, for example.

In addition, the current copper line retirement process is resulting in price increases for POTS lines. In some territories, month-to-month rates have increased by over 500% in the past 5 years. There are POTS line providers who have consistently raised rates twice a year for the last 7 years in their territories, with business POTS lines in some states rising to more than $1,400 per month!

Decreased service is another factor to consider. The installation interval for new POTS phone lines has become elongated, repair intervals for POTS network and copper services have dramatically increased, and carriers are simply not replacing damaged copper. In many territories, Service Level Agreements on copper services have been eliminated, altogether.

Many copper-based services are steadily being withdrawn by ILECs (incumbent local exchange carrier) as they retire their copper networks, including POTS, Frame Relay, ATM, T1, DS0, DS1, etc. Customers are being pressed to pivot to new technologies during this sunsetting period.  

Get Ready

At this point, carriers can retire copper facilities and replace them with fiber by providing a 180-day notice period to the FCC. As a communications solution provider, MetTel regularly receives notification letters on behalf of our customers and when we do, we guide them through POTS replacement options and the process of transforming aged copper POTS network into a modern, feature-rich digital network.

Get ahead of wireline decommissioning. Engage MetTel to prepare a thorough assessment and inventory analysis of all the copper telephone lines and POTS technology currently in use, including locations, devices, and services. An audit identifies all communication needs, both internal and external, to determine which services are critical and cannot be disrupted during a transition from POTS to a digital network. If timing isn’t right, consolidation with MetTel carrier services for lower cost lines and locking in rates is the next step.

The Benefits of POTS Transformation

In the spirit of turning lemons into lemonade, if your organization’s POTS network is being decommissioned, embrace the digital transformation. There is an opportunity to create a more streamlined, efficient, and feature-rich network that will enhance an organization’s performance. To start, here are a handful of reasons to leave POTS networks behind:

Looking ahead, here are some benefits that organizations experience with a new digital network:

Taking the Next Step

Partnering with MetTel ensures organizations are informed and have complete visibility throughout the entire process. This will include assessing and auditing; creating a phased transition plan with backup and redundancy; ensuring compliance with regulations; pilot testing; training and education; and ongoing management of your new digital network.

By following these steps and taking a proactive approach, enterprises and government agencies can effectively prepare for the retirement of copper telephone lines and transition to modern digital communication technologies without disruptions to critical services.

If you are wondering about my dad, he came around. With some research and our talks, he accepted that the entire copper network will one day be gone for everyone. So they upgraded their internet and never looked back. My mother enjoyed better video calls with her grandkids and my dad learned that when analog lines are converted to digital lines, the quality and reliability are greatly improved. Once my dad was properly informed, he was ready to move forward with the change, and it resulted in a significantly improved experience for my parents.

Learn More

You can watch an on-demand webinar: Future-Proofing POTS. The webinar walks through the POTS replacement process, discusses the benefits of POTS Transformation, and answers questions. This webinar will help you and your company or agency develop a plan for migrating from analog to digital, especially when it comes to connections that still rely on the telephone network, such as lines for elevators, security, and fire panels.

In addition, you can read about our work helping Extra Space Storage with their POTS Transformation project. This case study provides insights into the challenges they were facing and how their successful POTS Transformation project allowed them to overcome those challenges and improve their entire communications network.

If you have any questions about copper retirement, POTS replacement, and digital transformation, please contact us at (877) 963-8663.

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