Should you Worry About the Death of POTS?

Posted on: 2017-07-28 | Categories:SIP

The buzz around VoIP is immense and keeps growing every day. While many businesses have upgraded to either hosted VoIP or SIP trunking, others are not quite ready to switch away from the plain old telephone system (POTS). The PSTN still has a few benefits over VoIP although the gap is considerably narrower than it was a few years ago. VoIP has quickly gone from a niche toy to mainstream business service. This means that the days of the PSTN are numbered.

Even as late as 2011 or 2012, the idea of shutting down the PSTN would have been laughed at. But the growth of VoIP has been fast and furious since then. With many individuals, households and businesses switching over to VoIP, phone operators do not have any incentive to maintain the PSTN network.

Although carriers resisted VoIP technology in the beginning, they have now wholeheartedly embraced it. Carriers in countries such as Germany have already announced a cut off date for the PSTN. This means that PSTN based calling services will not be available after that date. Businesses will have to look for alternatives today if they want to avoid problems down the line. Carriers in other countries are conducting trials for widespread deployment of VoIP.

Replacing the PSTN with VoIP is not a small project. It will likely take many years and companies will make the change in staged rollouts. However all these changes should be a warning signal for enterprises. Even if we suppose that it will take another decade for the PSTN to shut down, isn’t it better to be prepared now?

Already VoIP offers many innovative features that cannot be matched by the PSTN. You are losing out on time-saving tools and productivity improvements by delaying the upgrade to VoIP. Potential benefits are not the only reason to switch either. You should be worried about the death of POTS if your company relies on it for certain functions such as:

Traditional Faxing Workflows

For a long time VoIP did not support traditional faxing protocols. Even today, providers do not offer it. However vendors do offer digital faxing. It essentially provides the same function but is implemented in such a way that it can work with VoIP. In fact digital faxing with VoIP is even easier than the workflow you’re used to.

To send a regular fax, you need a fax machine that is connected to a telephone line. Many businesses still rely on faxing to a certain extent. But your office may not have fax machines for each employee or even department. This means that employees who send faxes regularly need to get up from their desk to send or receive a fax. This wastes time and other resources such as toner and paper.

With VoIP compatible digital faxing, you can eliminate fax machines altogether. Faxes can be sent and received just like email or voice messages. You simply upload an attachment and it is sent directly to the recipient. They can print it out if needed or save it to their computer. No one has to get up from their desk in such of a fax machine. So if your business requires faxing capabilities, remember to use a vendor that supports and you’re good to go.

Alarm and Security Systems

Many business security systems or premise-based alarm systems rely on PSTN lines to quickly dial emergency services in case of a breach. Businesses use the systems to protect their offices, inventory, warehouses and factories. Without the PSTN, your system will no longer function. However there are alternative solutions for this issue as well.

With the growing popularity of internet-enabled products and services, security systems are also moving online. Many modern security services use IP-based channels such as apps or instant messaging instead of a traditional phone call. Business owners can simply check the relevant mobile or desktop app for notifications. Some security products can also be hooked up into your VoIP system to make the needed phone call. This does mean that you have to upgrade or switch your security system to a more modern one.

Access to Emergency Services

This is quite a serious issue for enterprises. In many countries and states, businesses are required to provide access to emergency services for their employees at the workplace. For a long time VoIP services could not do this. It is understandable if you have hesitated to switch because of this issue. But as VoIP became more popular, regulatory bodies have insisted on VoIP operators providing emergency calling services. Today most of the popular VoIP vendors offer emergency calling as long as the user has attached a location to their number.

The PSTN is not going to go away tomorrow. However one day it will. So if you are still using analog phone systems, it is time to stop worrying about it and upgrade.