Over the past year, Hurricane Irene and Hurricane Sandy took millions of people’s power for days, weeks or more. With no battery power, and poor cellular coverage, many people actually found copper-based traditional phone service was their only effective communications solution and connection to the world for an extended period of time.
Today, redundant technologies are an important part of flexible responses to disasters. For instance, cellular voice, SMS messaging, Internet connectivity and other technologies all worked together in order to provide communications after 9/11 in New York. So, we should be careful to include the value of redundancy when understanding the true cost benefit of technology like plain old telephone service (POTS).
POTS is an analog telephone service implemented over copper twisted pair wires and based on the Bell Telephone system that connects homes and businesses to neighborhood central offices. Due to its reliability, POTS is used much more widely than any other telephony system.
POTS is a retronym reflecting a telephone service still available after the introduction of more advanced forms of telephony such as ISDN, mobile phones and VoIP. It has been available since the public telephone system in the late 19th century, and has been unaffected even with the introduction of Touch-Tone dialing, electronic telephone exchanges and fiber-optic communication into the public switched telephone network (PSTN).
POTS continues to be the basic form of home and small business service connection to telephone networks around the world. It includes bidirectional voice band paths with frequencies limited to 300 to 3400 hertz (cycles per second), as well as call progress tones like dial tones, operator services, and a standards compliant analog telephone interface.
These days, the extensive availability of POTS allowed new forms of communication devices such as modems and facsimile machines to use POTS for digital information transmission.
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Edited by Jamie Epstein