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"POTS"Plain Old Telephone System


Yes, that's really what it stands for!

When you hear people refer to  "POTS" lines, they simply mean the traditional analog, or "land" telephone lines. This term will most commonly be heard in relation to modern Unified Communications (UC), or business telephone systems. But what does it mean?

POTS analog telephone service is delivered over copper wires and is based on the original Bell Telephone system. This system connects homes and businesses to neighborhood central offices. A central office is ultimately connected to other offices and a long distance facility to connect calls locally, nationally, and internationally.  This is accomplished by the PSTN, or Publicly Switched Telephone Network.

In the 1970s and 1980s, telephone exchanges became computerized, and this made it possible to expand the use of POTS lines to new forms of communication and add features of convenience. There were new forms of communication added such as modems and facsimile (fax) machines, which connected to the POTS lines to digitally transmit information.  Features such as voice mail, call waiting, caller ID, enhanced 911, speed dialing also became available to subscribers.  In addition to local and long distance with all its features, POTS lines also connect directly to alarm and monitoring systems.

Common PoTS Delivery Methods 

Copper: A pair of twisted copper wires make up the traditional "land line", and they provide the power to the phone, the ringing signal, the connectivity to the phone company and it's switching system, and the transference of sound waves once the call is connected.

T-1: T1 is essentially a digital carrier for POTS lines. A T1 line connects to a  T1 interface card in a PBX telecommunications system. When you do that, the PBX can use the T1 line to replace up to 24 POTS telephone lines.  Why use a T1?  The advantage is the cost savings to bundle all those individual phone wires into a single digital line that runs between an office and the phone company. The price advantage usually comes at 8 to 12 phone lines. Learn more about T1 circuits HERE.

PRI: A specialized form of T1 called T1 PRI or, "Primary Rate Interface" provides 23 telephone lines plus Caller ID and Automatic Number Identification data. PRI are very common telephony circuits as they are reliable and conducive to unified communicaitons capabilities. Learn more about PRI HERE.

There are many more, although less common delivery methods available to accommodate much higher call and data capacities and higher speeds. Contact your trusted technology consultant to find out what methods are available in your area.


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