Landlines are dying: 5 things you need to know

Landlines are dying and have been for quite some time now.

Should this come as a shock to you? No. Not unless you’ve been living under a copper-supported rock for the last decade.

People and businesses alike are running — no, sprinting — away from landlines. They’re expensive; they’re restrictive, and they’re just old.

Here’s what you need to know about this destined sprint away from POTS (plain old telephone system — and yes, that’s a real term).

It’s happening because the people want it to happen.

Back in the 19th century, POTS was introduced to a communication-hungry society and dubbed the Gold Standard of Voice Communication.

POTS relies on twisted copper phone lines to carry a signal from one place to another. But obviously, technology has come a long way since the 19th century.

Over time, POTS met with the Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN), and after that, the ISDN met with Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) — with each communication platform providing substantially more benefits than the latter.

And while the general migration to new platforms was slow to start, things are now beginning to move at a much more rapid pace.

As an example, only 10 percent of residents in Illinois have landlines — with AT&T losing an average of 5,000 landline customers each week. This is crazy considering that back in the year 2000, nearly every US household had a landline and actively used it. 

The telecom industry is trying.

It’s not that the telecom industry has been avoiding this transition to fiber optics and wireless solutions. In fact, many of the industry’s top leaders (including the FCC chairman, Tom Wheeler) have desperately petitioned for such a change.

However, change is hard. And in this particular case, change is expensive.

But now, with the FCC’s backing, the telecom industry can finally start a real transition to modern technologies — a transition the industry is calling TDM-to-IP.

With this transition, comes a phase-out plan. This means that there will eventually be no more support for landlines. This will obviously take time, and of course, there are more than a handful of stipulations involved.

There are demands.

There are still many technologies used today that rely on landlines, and the FCC has stipulated that some of these technologies must be supported until the year 2025.

This includes fax machines, home security systems, and medical monitoring devices.

But that isn’t all.

The new standard set in place by communication providers must offer the same quality of performance and access to critical services like 911.

If communication providers can’t deliver these demands, then they are not allowed to discontinue or reduce their current legacy services.

It’s an investment.

As mentioned earlier, this change is an expensive one.

Consider for a moment all that aging copper that surrounds you everywhere you go. This infrastructure supports landlines and has been there for decades. If you’re thinking about upending this platform for a new one, that same level of support and infrastructure will need to be established. That takes time, money, and resources.

On top of this, if a carrier is expected to provide ongoing support for POTS for the next 5-7 years, this will cost the carrier more money — which could end up costing the user more money, too.

Major organizations are working with the telecom industry.

Besides the time and money investment involved with the IP transition, there are also concerns about people using the new communication platform.

Now, you might be saying this doesn’t make sense. People everywhere are already transitioning to an IP-based platform. So why be worried?

Well, you need to consider the elderly and hearing-impaired individuals — and even to a certain degree, people who live in very rural areas who don’t have reliable access to wireless technologies.

This transition will affect how people communicate — and in some instances, organizations aren’t sure if this effect will be a positive one.

Because of this, the FCC is working with organizations like the National Science Foundation and the National Institute on Aging. They’re hoping that partnerships like these will provide them with the resources they need to implement a solution that benefits all.

At this point, you should be asking yourself whether or not your business has a plan. Are you already transitioned to an IP-based platform or do you have some sort of timeline established for your eventual transition? If you don’t, then give us a call. We’d love to chat.

You can also learn more about VoIP by reading The Top 5 Benefits of VoIP That Will Modernize Your Conversations.