The expansion of cell phones has nearly made landlines obsolete—but not entirely. Pew Research Center reports that over 95% of Americans own a cellphone, and a subset of 85% have a smartphone across all demographics. Long ago, most people gave up their landlines in favor of mobile devices, including lower-income Americans, who use smartphones as their primary method for Internet access.
As a result, landlines have largely fallen out of favor among consumers since 2000. Providers like AT&T and Verizon have continued to offer traditional landline service because the FCC required them to do so. One of their best features is that landlines frequently work during power outages and other disruptions, while Internet service and cell networks do not.
But on August 2, 2022, FCC Order 19-72 allowed the big phone providers to drop landlines completely so long as they had an alternative available. The alternative is fiber optic cable, which is preferred by the providers. Landline customers are being pushed into alternatives such as VoIP service. But there is no great push for a suitable replacement for landline service.
What are Landlines?
A landline is a traditional telephone that relies on a direct link to the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) for incoming and outgoing calls.
These landlines utilize either POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) copper wires or fiber-optic lines to carry analog audio signals between callers. Because they are physically connected, landlines are limited to the specific physical location where they are installed. Landlines frequently work even when the power goes out.
Who still uses POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service)?
While consumers have shunned landlines, some still prefer them, namely seniors over 65. But the analog copper-wire POTS ecosystem also powers:
- Emergency call boxes and
- Fire and security alarm systems
- “Blue light towers” on college campuses
- Voice and fax lines
- Credit card machines
- HVAC systems
Without analog landlines, these mission-critical systems may no longer function correctly or at all. But there are currently no suitable replacements for landline functions.
Why is POTS going away?
The infrastructure that powers the landlines has been largely unchanged since its creation over 100 years ago. The FCC realizes the age of this infrastructure and that it is not only obsolete but unsustainable. The FCC then implemented FCC Order 19-72 to allow providers to sunset analog service and mandate permanent termination of the copper phone lines.
The three main reasons for terminating POTS are:
- The expense of maintenance and operation of the copper lines
- Lack of remote management and monitoring capabilities
- Lack of technical support
Providers continue to reduce landline service and increase prices for their remaining customers.
Fiber-optic cable service lets providers offer more profitable services, such as Internet, TV, and VoIP phone service, individually or as a bundle. Fiber optics are also more weather-resistant and safe from other hazards, making them less expensive than copper wiring. However, fiber optics do not completely replace landline service and require Internet service to function.
How a SIP Trunk can replace your landline
If your small business still uses a landline, you may have already been told to expect it to be discontinued. You can get ahead of the curve by switching to a SIP trunk before your provider discontinues your landline service.
Fire alarms can work with SIP lines and two cell phones to keep the alarm system connected. The SIP trunk routes the alarm signal to a VoIP line and sends it to the alarm company just as it would with a landline.
A SIP trunk is less expensive and easier to set up, maintain, and scale up or down. Internet-based phone services offer a wider range of telecom services that cost more than a traditional landline. While a landline may offer voicemail and call forwarding with a few other services, a VoIP system can include a complete digital interface and multiple advanced features.
A small business can add, remove, or change numbers as needed at no additional charge, and includes things like free long distance, analytics, IVR (auto-attendants), call parking and pickup, and so much more. It does not require any new hardware installation, although you can opt for physical desk phones if you’d like. Numbers are portable, meaning team members can take them anywhere and communicate clearly with a PC and an Internet connection.
Is your fire alarm connected to a landline?
As we mentioned, fire and other alarms still use landlines. But you can utilize Session Internet Protocol lines (SIP) to keep your fire alarm connected.
SIP trunking allows small businesses to make phone calls from their hard-wired PBX system through their Internet service and replace traditional landlines. A SIP trunk is a device that routes calls from a landline through the Internet. It is a robust system that can handle any number of calls at one time without interfering with any calls, and removing an existing PBX system isn’t required.
But because fire and other alarms are usually on a landline, connecting them directly to VoIP may be problematic. Fire alarms can work with SIP lines and two cell phones to keep the alarm system connected. The SIP trunk routes the alarm signal to a VoIP line and sends it to the alarm company just as it would with a landline.
Adding SIP trunking to your small business can dramatically reduce communication costs without any overhaul or additional investment. You can also utilize SIP trunking for other business enhancements, such as obtaining “local” numbers in different cities or countries.
Landline service will, eventually, become a thing of the past. Holding out can become increasingly expensive while coming to an end. Small businesses with landline service can get ahead of the landline sunset by switching to a new VoIP service that offers a complete set of ready-to-use features for less than a standard POTS landline. Your business will experience savings immediately once your cloud-hosted PBX is up and running. Contact us today for a free quote.