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Started by pots-head, June 14, 2011, 08:40:59 PM

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I recently plugged in a couple of old rotary phones I've had since the 80s and was amazed to discover that they work on my broadband phone connection -  it turns out that the VOIP/MTA that my provider installed added support in the latest firmware for pulse dialing in order to function with legacy alarm systems.  So now I plan to install rotary phones throughout the house.

I discovered this forum through a google search on the benefits and drawbacks of POTS vs VOIP - we've recently been having extended power outages and I wanted to find out what my options are.

I've read through some of the old threads, and this is the summary I've come up with:

Benefits of POTS:

Works when local power is out (a big plus);
Rotary/pulse dialing is officially supported;
Possibly better sound quality? (not clear if this is true or not)
Secure against DOS attacks, high internet traffic, etc.

Drawbacks of POTS:

Limited feature set (Verizon does not offer call block in my area - a big minus);
More expensive;
Is being phased out;
Knowledge and skills to maintain (possibly deteriorating) infrastructure is lacking.

I plan to switch to POTS, but I'm a bit frustrated and puzzled at the lack of call blocking.  I also read that Verizon plans to completely phase out POTS within a few years.  I'm curious whether or not the government will permit this, and what they plan to do with their existing POTS customers.  Are they actually going to dismantle all the copper lines, or would someone else be able to take over?


I don' know about phase out. I know someone in New JErsey, who says Verison is in the process or has sold the copper lines to someone else. Probably a lease back type arrangement. Said company maintains lines, and sells service back to Verison to resell to it's customers.


Regarding the possible phase-out, all I know is what I read here - - that in 2009 Verizon planned to phase out all POTS within 7 years (which would put it at 2014) - and I've seen this factoid referred to in other articles as well.  But outsourcing isn't the same as phase-out, so I'm not as concerned anymore.  Thanks!

Doug Rose

I have had a Comcast VOIP for the last five years. My rotary phones dial out with no issue and I actually have more in service than when I had Verizon and they ring great. I had to limit the number I had with Verizon or they would not ring. If you have any issues with dialing out a Panasonic 616 is a reasonable alternative to hang off your VOIP line off of. It will also give you intercom dialing. Below is a soft manual for the 616.....Doug


All this talk of phasing out POTS scares me just a bit. Not so much that my old telephone won't work, it's "will ANY telephone work?"

What are the drawbacks of VOIP?

Doesn't it require you have an internet provider? My ISP is a cable internet/TV connection which sometimes doesn't connect for days at a time, likely due to the bad condition of the cable lines in my area. If the modem won't connect, would my phone service be out as well? My internet connection at home has been down since last Saturday, and a technician has been there 4 days in a row only to find there is "insufficient signal strength for my modem to connect." This is a major drawback to even thinking of phasing out POTS, at least in my area. I'm being forced to get my daily classicrotaryphones fix at work!

I've asked about DSL, and have been told the condition of the telephone lines in my area would preclude DSL from being able to connect.

If POTS were eliminated completely, what other alternative is available if digital methods are impractical? Satellite?

Please excuse my paranoia...


I think this post - - summarizes the problem pretty well, which is part of the reason I'm switching back to POTS.  We had a tornado go through town recently, and many people were without power for more than a week.  VOIP battery backup only lasts 24 hours.  There are also major public safety issues - if police, fire, etc, (along with normal people) all rely on VOIP that's a major problem waiting to happen.


The power outage thing is a valid point, but back during hurricane Floyd, we were out of power for 5 days. Our POTS phones worked for less than one day. Apparently some sort of local switch station had enough backup battery power for about 8 hours, and then it was dead. POTS is not a totally infallible system, but I trust it far more than I trust anything over the internet.


Hi and welcome to the forum. As you will see there is a great group of people here with a common obsession.
As far as POTS vs VOIP is concerned there are opinions and arguments on both sides as to which is "better".
I maintain POTS with AT&T as I have for years. I have no intention of changing my service. During Hurricane Wilma we were without power for weeks but my phones kept working just fine. As I understand it AT&T has backup generators to supply power and charge the batteries for a prolonged loss of power like that. The difference in sound quality in my opinion has more to do with the equipment being used than the manner of transmission. My rotary phones just sound better than the new electronic stuff. I do not think it is physically possible to replace all existing phone lines due to the number of remote locations.
Harry Smith
ATCA 4434

"There is no try,
there is only
do or do not"

Greg G.

Come to think of it, where is my copy of The Rape of Ma Bell, I was going to give it to my gf to read.  She likes scary stories.
The idea that a four-year degree is the only path to worthwhile knowledge is insane.
- Mike Row


As Harry, we keep the good old POTS of the same reasons.

Last week we had a network problem at job, and lost the internet connection.
This gave an argument against installing voip.  Why not go for a cell phone system?
(we got a good offer) But Friday, about 5 millions cell cellphones was out of connection.   (and it happend for some hours today too).

Whats worrying me is even when we keep the old system, with the old provider (about like AT&T) they cant manage to keep the service level. They have to cut costs, outsource jobs etc.

Calls are relatively cheaper now, but we have to have redundancy; Cellphone connected to another network/operator.

Or maybe just be prepared to loose the connection for hours, days, weeks?

A few years ago, someone dug over the telephone cable (1000 pairs), the outsourced repair  team used more than one week to fix it.  

I don't think we have a smiley to show my feelings at that time  :D (at least not this)



I guess I'm lucky.  I live in an area where the power almost never goes down, and my Time Warner cable internet is extremely reliable.  Here in Los Angeles, if we had a natural disaster, G-d forbid, it would be an earthquake, and the chances are good any such event would also knock out the phone copper.

I have been solely on VOIP for more than a year and a half now, and I'm very happy with it.  (I have a cell phone too but my main service is VOIP.)  How much does your POTS service cost you?  I'll trade your "stays up in a crisis" for my "only costs me about $5 a month total" any day.

AND, with my current VOIP setup, I can fully use any vintage telephone in my collection, even the rotary ones.

I know this is an age-old (for this forum) debate and I won't make any converts here, that's fine, if you're happy with your POTS, please keep it.  However, if anyone out there would like to learn more about switching to VOIP, please feel free to contact me at any time.
Adam Forrest
Los Angeles Telephone - A proud part of the global C*Net System
C*Net 1-383-4820


All this talk about cost about a POTS line. My  total ATT bill is less than 50.00. ANd that is with seperate LD from ATT. I don't need it anymore, I just don't want to monkey with  the plan I currently  have, and have for the last 25 years.  GEt a basic localline, no calling features, and your still under 30.00 a month. IF you think 30.oo is high, you obviously don't have a car.

Sure, your phone bill is gonna be high if you get all kinds of calling features. Who needs em? I got an ansering machine for that. Takes my messages, and I can screen my calls. DOn't need caller id.


Quote from: MDK on June 17, 2011, 02:44:16 PM
The power outage thing is a valid point, but back during hurricane Floyd, we were out of power for 5 days. Our POTS phones worked for less than one day. Apparently some sort of local switch station had enough backup battery power for about 8 hours, and then it was dead. POTS is not a totally infallible system, but I trust it far more than I trust anything over the internet.

Thing with POTS is it only needs power at the exchange, which can be miles away. VoIP needs power at multiple points depending on how the service is provided: at the VoIP phone, the customer's router, the FTTC node or cable box in the street, etc, and all the separate boxes at the exchange and intervening ISP gateways.

If there was a line-powered VoIPphone/ADSL router thingmy that would sort out the subscriber apparatus issues to a large extent.

But the POTS network was traditionally a single homogenous network designed for end-to-end reliability for circuit switched speech transmission.

IP's great for email and file transfer: non-time-critical data transfer, which is what it was designed for. It was never intended for time-critical data transfer like real-time viewing of web pages or telephone transmission. And because it's not a single homogenous network, no matter how much you bolt on extras to improve/update its quality of service, if your datagrams are going through Hicksville ISP on their way to Boondocks Cable Co then you're at the mercy of HISP and BCC keeping their equipment running. And you can't assume that HISP and BCC both have redundant connections to the big wide world if they're places with one road outta town and one overhead cable in.