Voice communications and telephone service is changing rapidly. In fact, in last two decades it has changed dramatically with the proliferation of wireless communications. With the emergence of VoIP in last few years, the landscape has been transformed. Many pundits are calling for the demise of the age old landline telephone service, also known as plain old telephone service (POTS).
A recent survey conducted by Bandwidth’s division inetwork reveals that subscribers are slowly moving away from POTS to take advantage of latest wireless and VoIP technologies. The survey reveals that the continued penetration of mobile devices in the office environment is making the traditional landline or desk phone a thing of the past.
Similarly, at home wireless and mobile phones are displacing the traditional landline based POTS. According to this survey, about 70 percent of the respondents noted the death of (POTS as the third most disruptive factor, with providers of legacy phone services looking to gain efficiencies and offer end-users the enhanced features only available from IP-based platforms.
Concurrently, the number two carrier AT&T is seeking the demise of POTS. The Wall Street Journal reported that AT&T (News - Alert) has been trying hard to phase out the old telephone network in favor of one using Internet protocol or IP based services. Nevertheless, per FCC regulation, AT&T, Verizon (News - Alert) and other regulated operators are obliged to maintain the old service as long as customers want it. The major operators must be ready to provide a connection to anyone in their service territory who asks.
Because the customer base is shrinking and the cost of maintaining the old network is rising, AT&T has proposed a plan to the government for phasing out the POTS service as the new service plans expand. Consequently, the WSJ reported, “To this end, the company announced last month that it was willing to extend its fixed broadband network to several million customers in its service territory who don't yet have access.”
AT&T says the solution is to expand its 4G wireless network to the point where it will reach about 99 percent of customers. AT&T chief Randall Stephenson, told the WSJ, “For much of small town and rural America, wireless can deliver a voice and broadband option better than what customers get from the copper network now.’
Meanwhile, Washington has been mulling the necessity of phasing out POTS since the Bill Clinton Administration. And President Obama's 2010 National Broadband Plan has called for getting rid of the old system.
But, POTS is not going away any soon because it is going to take some time for wireless and IP services to cover all small town and rural America.
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Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli