Landlines are becoming more expensive and less reliable (2023)

Are horse and carriage your main means of transportation? Do you get deliveries of big blocks of ice to keep your food cold? Do you light your house with oil lamps at night?

Probably not. However, millions of households in the United States pay money every month for a different 19th century technology:landline servicedelivered on antique copper wiring akasimple phone service or POTS.

POTS reaches retirement age after a very long period. It all started on March 10, 1876, when Alexander Graham Bell famously exclaimed “Mr. Watson come here, I want you", to his assistant. Nearly 150 years later, it is not surprising that other technologies—notably cellular networks and Voice over Internal Protocol (VoIP) Phone service – largely eliminated the need for POTS.

POTS disappears at sunset

This demise of copper is affecting legacy domestic phone service in two ways: higher rates and reduced reliability.

Why is this happening? Three things come together here.

First, the POTS lines disappear.

Data from the Federal Communications Commission shows that the number of POTS lines in the United States has dropped from 122 million in 2010 to 41 million in 2019. If copper cable lines continue to decline at the current rate, as shown in the graph below, there will be few if any remaining until 2026.

Landlines are becoming more expensive and less reliable (1)

The FCC has recognized the inevitable end of POTS, which they describe with another acronym - PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network). in a 2019order, the FCCstated, "The PSTN is heading towards an inevitable sunset."

After decades of tightly regulating phone companies to keep POTS rates reasonable and maintain high reliability, the agency sees no reason to require carriers to continue offering copper wire service.

"Policies that encourage carrier and customer reliance on outdated legacy services serve no beneficial public interest purpose," the 2019 order stated. So if your home still has POTS lines, the federal government believes you need it yourself take care of it.

AT&T, the country's largest POTS provider, highlighted this on March 11, 2022 in a meeting with financial analysts and investors. Announced a plan to "reduce our copper footprint by 50% by 2025". That's AT&T's polite way of saying that half of its remaining POTS customers will be dropped within three years.

Second, POTS lines are becoming more expensive.

The FCC and state regulators have largely raised price caps on POTS lines. Telephone operators take the opportunity to significantly increase monthly rates, even though charges for other telecommunications services, such as B. mobile phones, are reduced by intense competition. The US Bureau of Labor Statisticsit saysThe cost of POTS services increased by 37% from February 2012 to February 2022, which is also shown in our chart, and could increase by 75% by 2026 if current trends continue.

Today, POTS home phone lines often cost $50 a month or more. The price increases are even more dramatic for businesses: Ooma is hearing from several of our business customers that their POTS lines now cost $80-$120 a month or more.

Third, the reliability of POTS lines decreases.

Many people who still pay for POTS lines like the idea of ​​having a phone that almost always has dial tone, especially during thunderstorms and power outages.

Theoretically, telecom companies are between a rock and a hard place because they have fewer customers who pay the cost of maintaining their copper wire infrastructure, such as wiring. B. telephone poles and central, must share.

Indeed, some network operators seem to have taken the opportunity to raise prices, paying less attention to their POTS networks.

California Public Amenity Commissions, April 2019report, found several instances of negligence on the part of AT&T, the state's main provider of POTS lines.

"It is clear that AT&T California has consistently divested its local area network infrastructure in California," the report said. "AT&T appears to have adopted a 'harvest strategy' for legacy POTS services. AT&T has stopped actively marketing POTS and has degraded the quality of the POTS service and its response to incident reports, relying instead on gradual pricing and customer inertia to sustain its revenue stream for an extended, albeit declining, period."

The report added: "Telephone service interruptions appear to be highly dependent on weather conditions, particularly the amount of rain in the serviced area. The strong relationship between precipitation and the frequency of service interruptions is a strong indication that the distribution network AT&T is not as robust as it should be and lacks the resilience to withstand significant weather events.”

In other words, a POTS home phone line is no longersafetyOnce upon a time there was a ceiling.

How to Bring Home Phone Service into the 21st Century and Save Money!

The FCC further reiterated its view on the Copper Sunset issue in its 2019 filing, saying, "To the extent that certain end users continue to rely on (POTS), we are also not satisfied that the Commission needs to 'protect ' partially each preference." customers may have, especially given alternative options for outsourcing voice services."

The most common "alternative" option to home phone service is VoIP, which is typically less expensive thanFixed line made of copper wireand offers more functions.

Ooma home phone serviceit's free, customers only pay applicable taxes and fees - usually just $5 to $8 a month. Getting started requires an Ooma Telo device, which can cost less than $100, as a bridge between the Internet and a home's existing wired or wireless devices.

Ooma customers also have the option to upgrade toPlano Premierfor an additional $9.99 per month, you get enhanced services like a second phone number, improved automatic call blocking, and voicemail messages delivered as audio files via email.

The Ooma Telo LTE security phone

Landlines are becoming more expensive and less reliable (2)

For those who want the convenience of a home phone that works even during power and internet outages, there is thisOoma Telo LTE security phone, which comes with a 10-hour battery backup and an adapter that connects wirelessly to the Internet. The device is just $129.99 and the monthly service is just $11.99 plus applicable taxes and fees.

In short, if you still have a POTS line at home, now is the time to move beyond the copper end by switching to VoIP. They will change the script to pay less for more instead of paying more for less. The future is here!

Landlines are becoming more expensive and less reliable (3)

Jim Gustke

Jim Gustke, Vice President of Marketing at Ooma, brings extensive experience at the intersection of consumer marketing and technology. As Intuit's vice president of marketing, he helped reinvent Quicken and launch the first SaaS version of the popular personal finance software. Prior to Intuit, he was responsible for business unit management, global branding, and product marketing at Lexar Media and helped grow the flash memory business to more than $850 million before it was acquired by Micron Technology. He was also founding vice president of marketing for Ofoto, an online photo service acquired by Eastman Kodak in 2001. A pioneer in Internet marketing, he joined America Online in 1996 as Director of Marketing for GNN, the first Internet service provider of the company, and in 1995 as Marketing Manager at Polaroid Corporation, he led the team that launched the company's first corporate website.

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