POTS Lines


You may have heard the term “POTS line” in a telecommunications context and wondered what this meant. POTS stands for “plain old telephone services.” It is simply another term for what most people call a “landline.” POTS lines today use much the same technology that they have used for the last 150 years. While they are certainly not as popular as they once were, these lines are still used around the world. POTS lines are especially common in certain commercial applications.

Read on to learn more about how POTS lines were created and how they work.

The Creation of POTS Lines

POTS lines were created in the 19th century by Alexander Graham Bell. They use twisted copper wires that carry electrical signals to the recipient. The caller’s voice is turned into an electrical signal by the handset, and it is turned back into sound waves by the recipient’s phone.

POTS lines often only connect callers directly if they are close to each other. Otherwise, the calls are routed by central offices. In the past, human operators had to route the calls manually.  

Home Landlines Are Disappearing

As you may have heard, landlines are disappearing from homes across America. The number of homes in America with a landline is now well below 50%. Now that mobile phones are ubiquitous, many people don’t see the point of paying for both a mobile phone and a landline. After all, they can simply use their mobile phones in their homes.

As the popularity of landlines has diminished, many telecommunications companies have dismantled their POTS lines. As the selection of landline service providers has diminished, the price of POTS service has increased. This has further hastened the decline in landline usage. However, there are certain applications in which POTS lines are still common.  

POTS Lines Are Still Commonly Used for Certain Applications

Many businesses and housing developments still make POTS lines an integral part of their operations. For example, fire alarms often rely on POTS lines to alert the local fire department. Also, security panels often use POTS lines to notify police. The emergency call boxes in elevators also use POTS lines.

While the number of fax machines is also declining, quite a few businesses still use them. These machines generally use POTS lines. However, newer fax machines may use the Internet instead. This is part of a general trend that will eventually see POTS lines replaced, even in specialty applications.

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