Discontinuance of POTS lines

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RFI-EMI-GUY

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Wow, I sure hope the FCC looks into this and hammers what ever corporate entity is behind this. I can only hope. Still waiting for them to clamp down on the robo calls I receive.

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ElroyJetson

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DO NOT ASK ME FOR HELP PROGRAMMING YOUR RADIO. NO.
I'd much rather see the FCC clamp down hard on forging caller ID information.

Heck, what really needs to happen is to transform the phone system to a full IP based system and ditch POTS service in a progressive phase-out. DTMF tones and copper cable are so 20th century.
 

buddrousa

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Do you know how many burg and fire alarm panel lines still depend on pots? VOIP is not 100% and customers are not willing to upgrade to GSM/IP. They will buy a new cell phone every year but think their 25 year old alarm panel should still work.
 
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jlmaddencc

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The FCC shouldn't be listening to Political Hacks like Rush or Mark or Sean or Laura that tell a very perverted view of my Republican Party and my Christian religion, if it takes 150 Celebrities to equal 1.5 such Political Hacks, then so be it, Fair is Fair, if the "celebrities" scare you then you'll make comments like that. Remember Jesus was a liberal, because an ultra-conservative would never question the status quo.
 

Thayne

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I'd much rather see the FCC clamp down hard on forging caller ID information.

Heck, what really needs to happen is to transform the phone system to a full IP based system and ditch POTS service in a progressive phase-out. DTMF tones and copper cable are so 20th century.
As far as I know most of the legacy phone system (except for the last miles from the Central offices to single family residences)) are at least digital and a high percentage are VOIP. If anyone really knows how much please chime in. I agree totally about CID spoofing; I rarely answer any phone calls anymore, just let it go to voice mail to avoid all the scammers. My spouse retired from Qwest-Centurylink, and when we got FTTH last year they wanted to switch the POTS that we get free to the fiber as the interface has 2 ports for phones. Everyone doesn't know that if all the juice goes out the interface doesn't run long on a 12V 7AH battery. I like the good old 48 volts supplied from the CO so we kept POTS. Same way with some cell sites as I have worked in many that only have limited batteries & no genset. I am sure POTS will go away but I hope not before I croak!
 

intuity

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As far as I know most of the legacy phone system (except for the last miles from the Central offices to single family residences)) are at least digital and a high percentage are VOIP.
LECs want to phase out copper last mile for many reasons - the least of which has anything to do with their network on the other side of the switch, which has been completely digital since the mid 1990's, with IP transit only recently beginning to take hold in the last few years.

AT&T owns more last-mile footage in copper than Verizon currently, but not because of the larger service area.. Verizon has been desperately trying to divest themselves of a labor-intensive, resource-sapping, and non-profitable wireline monkey for at least what I can say is 10 years or more.

To make matters worse, both AT&T and Verizon have been accused (with some validity) that they are letting their wireline business languish in disrepair in order to force their customers into either a) footing the bill by paying for expanding footprint into their home/neighborhood, or b) forcing aggregations of services, often unwanted combinations at that - upon them just in order to receive one.

Comcast, et al are famous for this, being progenitors of the "triple play" school of fee/service smorgasbording; you know, you want Internet, but you have to take video free, since "it already comes with your Internet", and local phone is only a little more - or "free" as well. They get another landline they sap USF and tariffed inter-LATA fees from, customers get a marginally decent experience, and the false sense of value.

Add that to the cord-cutting we see with avid TV fans, the move to fully-mobile households, an-iPad-in-every-hand vs. chicken in every pot, and you've got people running from POTS in droves unless necessary (as was mentioned earlier in the thread about security systems, etc - that is a whole other ball of lace), so will wireline die?

I highly doubt we will see the complete death of the dial-tone in the next 5 to 7 years but it may be sooner that they make it about as difficult to get a dial tone as a service-class-tariffed circuit like frame-relay, DDS, or leased-dialup is today.
 

NC1

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I had a repair man come here because my AT&T DSL was extremely slow. He checked everything all the way from the lines in my house, to the switching box down the road about a mile away. He said it is the equipment in the switching box that is causing the problem, and AT&T won't replace it since they want everyone on their U-verse system. They are just letting the old stuff go when it breaks and won't do anything to repair or replace it.

If I could get U-verse on my block, there would be no problem, but since I live in one of those "last mile" areas and those new lines are not slated for installation at all, there is no alternative - it's DSL or nothing. So, I'm getting screwed with very slow (peppered with other issues as well) internet that they know is not up to standard, and they won't do anything about giving this little development a decent internet connection.

Not a single cable company is on the road either that I could switch to, so I'm stuck with their crappy service. Their 6.0 DSL sometimes comes in at 20kbps.... yes, Kilobytes! My neighbor has HughesNet, and he is ready to rip it off the roof. If I want better internet, I'll have to move.
 

gmclam

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POTS

I've certainly known for many years that the "phone company" no longer wants to support copper to each client. They've done everything they can to get people to drop POTS in favor of cellular. Then they use this to claim there is a shortage of spectrum and want the government to give them more. And the only place to really get it is TV broadcasters. (OT here but even though YOU might get your TV from cable, MANY systems get their signals off-air).

If they want me to drop my POTS, they need to install modern high speed fiber to my door. Although I live in a well off middle class neighborhood, the broadband speeds here are comparible to dial-up (dial-up just might win).

It seems the only way companies respond these days is if there is "easy money" involved or a lawsuit. Paying $~10 a month for CallerID that more often than not displays an incorrect number for the caller (regardless of reason) seems like a great cause to sue.
 

mmckenna

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None of the local exchange carriers have any plans to replace their 5ESS or DMS TDM switches.
Lucent is not producing a replacement for the 5ESS. Nortel is effectively no more.
That effectively puts the last few nails in the coffins of POTS.
All new systems are mostly Broadsoft switches. Full IP with TDM gateways.

Most of you probably have POTS lines coming off your local 5ESS, DMS or maybe even a few AXE's.
Eventually those will be replaced. There will be some far off Broadsoft controller, likely no longer in your local CO, may not even be in the same state. There will be a local gateway for those that hang onto their POTS lines.

With few exceptions, all of the old "toll circuits", interoffice connections are all IP. Probably few SONET rings out there still, but IP is a whole lot easier. SS7 networks make it a no brainer. Why run circuit switched systems when IP is so much easier, flexible and cheaper.

Local to me, AT&T has already announced the end of conditioned circuits for radio systems. I've got to have a replacement working by 2020, or so I'm told. It'll have to be IP of some sort.

Sure POTS will hang on for a while. It makes sense, it's cheap, it works. Problem is the stuff that makes it work so well is failing. Used to be AT&T and the larger carriers had huge teams of outside plant cable techs and engineers. The large scale copper cable plants were the backbone of this country. As those guys retired, or were pushed out, the copper plant has suffered. The knowledge and experience to keep those systems going disappeared. To be fair, they were costly, the infrastructure was no longer cost effective, and some times they were just a plain old eyesore. It'll be kept marginally running as long as it makes sense.

Back 30 years ago fiber optic cable wasn't cost effective for use from the CO out towards the customer. That's changed. Cable is cheap, always has been. The end devices were expensive, but not any longer. Technicians have been trained on how to work with fiber, fusion splice, test, etc. It's no longer the specialty it once was. I remember the term "fiber prima donna" being a poplar "insult". We had guys that would only touch fiber, and would never lower themselves to the position of working on copper. Used to annoy the hell out of us, but as times changed, training caught up. Now, it's sort of the opposite. Finding a tech that knows how to properly test a copper pair is hard. Finding one that knows how to use a sidekick meter properly and can accurately locate and identify faults is rare.

There's a lot of reasons analog POTS is going away. There isn't any one reason that's better than the other. In the end its all about costs. Dedicated copper pairs from a TDM switch all the way out to the customers phone doesn't make financial sense. Multiplexing telephone service onto a IP fiber circuit is much cheaper. Where things will continue to change is on the "last mile" part of the circuit. It's easy to take fiber to the local cross connect box, install a terminal and then hop on the existing copper pairs into the customers homes. Not only does this provide a cost effective solution for telephone service, but piggybacking on data services is simple. What we are already seeing is the local carrier finally replacing the "last mile" copper with fiber. One of my coworkers just had AT&T pull fiber right up to the terminal on the side of his house. Probably within a few months his copper pair will be abandoned.

A few years ago I did a cost analysis of taking my PBX from PRI trunking to IP based trunking. At that time I was running 10 PRI circuits to/from the local exchange carrier and a couple to a long distance carrier. I still had about 100 analog trunks as backup.
I priced out a redundant set of -48 volt powered session border controllers to sit on our network border and handle the interface/security with the carriers. Figuring on having to replace those every 5 years or so (pretty normal lifespan for anything IP related), plus the cost of the trunking, it was considerably more than the PRI served trunking I had at the time.
I'm getting ready to do that study again. I already know the SBC's have dropped considerably in price. The carriers have started lowering their costs for SIP trunks.
Within a year I'll probably be running 90% of my traffic over IP.

If you go to Eastern Europe, you'll find that wired telephones are becoming a rarity. Just doesn't make sense to build out a big cable plant to sparsely populated area with low income. I was in Romania many years ago and there was no copper cable plant in most areas. What there was, new cellular towers. Everyone had a mobile phone.
 

RFI-EMI-GUY

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I am just wondering out loud why ATT can't simply bond a couple dozen DSL circuits coming into a subdivision and deliver the last half mile wirelessly? The aggregate rate would be 24 times what they could deliver to one household continuously.

The equipment could be powered via the copper, and a small microwave base station could serve wireless terminals in each household.

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mmckenna

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I am just wondering out loud why ATT can't simply bond a couple dozen DSL circuits coming into a subdivision and deliver the last half mile wirelessly? The aggregate rate would be 24 times what they could deliver to one household continuously.

The equipment could be powered via the copper, and a small microwave base station could serve wireless terminals in each household.

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They can, but there are better solutions that DSL.

DSL makes sense when you are trying to squeeze data on the same pair as a voice circuit. If you don't have to worry about the voice band, you can utilize a lot more of the bandwidth the pair is capable of. There is a "long range Ethernet" (as well as others) solution that will allow you to run several megabits per second over a single copper pair. Bond a couple of those together and you can easily get a healthy amount of bandwidth out of a couple of copper pairs.
My brother in law is a transport engineer/manager for a competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC), and they did this quite a bit over the last 15 years or so. Recently fiber is easier to get, or point to point or point to multipoint radio links are an easier solution.

Anyway, bringing a bunch of bandwidth into an area with bonded pairs is easy. From there they can use the DSLAMS or similar setups to send service out over existing cable pairs.
Wireless connections are a good solution, but it's difficult to get a lot of bandwidth out of a setup that's using omni directional antennas and trying to punch through a lot of structures. Usually, in those cases, it's easier to go high and put a directional antenna on everyones rooftop.
 

RFI-EMI-GUY

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I am living in a neighborhood with 40 year old copper. There is u verse fiber a half mile away, but ATT cannot deliver better than 1.5 mbps to my house because the copper cable is physically long, decrepit and frankly they seem uninterested. As a result the cable company has an expensive monopoly inside my subdivision.

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mmckenna

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Yeah, crappy cable plant is an issue.
While it's easy to upgrade the service between the local CO and the terminal closest to your home, the stretch from the local terminal to your house is a different story. Most of that is direct buried cable with a splice near each home and a couple of pairs going to each house. Since there isn't conduit, replacing/upgrading that cable is expensive.
Eventually AT&T will need to address that, either with fiber to the home or something else.

Honestly, in this day and age, I think that's the only thing keeping the cable companies working. Coax is a better resource for higher speed data. With the advent of DBS and services like NetFlix, cable TV isn't going to make much off their TV services. I'm from the age, probably like most of you guys, where the cable TV company was the only option for TV service, other than off the air antennas. For years the big cable TV companies treated customers like crap because there was no other option and the local governments gave them a monopoly. After so many years of that, I just can't bring myself to going back to the cable company.

I'm looking for options, myself. I've got a 1.5 DSL connection from a 3rd party over AT&T wire. $60/month for telephone and data is pretty high, especially at those speeds. Unfortunately my only other option is the cable company. I don't have any RF options other than cellular, which I do use occasionally on my work phone. I'm hoping at some point AT&T will install fiber down our street and give me an option.
 

Thayne

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Great reading what all you guys have to say.
Since I kinda started this offshoot I wanted to add that even though I got fiber right to the house from CenturyLink, they did it the easy way. They brought the fiber from the CO in existing underground conduits to the various neighborhoods, but then just came up and lashed the new pre-made fiber terminals to the existing copper "Slick 50" cables. From then on The fiber to each home was pre-terminated in various lengths needed to get to each house. A cheesy way to do it but it works.
Surprise surprise , the newer neighborhoods where everything is buried-- they are not saying when they will get it.
 
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mmckenna

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Surprise surprise , the newer neighborhoods where everything is buried-- they are not saying when they will get it.
Directional boring is expensive and intrusive, so not sure what they are going to do. The bandwidth on a copper pair is maxed out technology wise. Coax is a better solution. Fiber would be ideal. I suspect they'll have to come up with some hybrid solution or just jump to something RF based for older neighborhoods.

I remember back in the early 90's AT&T did a trial in my neighborhood. The trenched down each street and did horizontal boring up to each house. That won't scale well in most neighborhoods.

There is some interesting frequencies being opened up that might end up getting used to close the last mile. Should be interesting to see which way this goes.
 

mmckenna

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Interesting timing, here's a recent article on the topic.
One part that often gets overlooked by people cutting their wireline voice service is that they lose the accurate 911 location capability.

Cellular is getting better, but errors and lack of accuracy are still an issue. Many consumers can't see the risk, they assume that dispatchers will know where they are, or that they'll be able to accurately and calmly provide location data to a dispatcher over a cell phone.

I keep a wired phone line at my home not only for E-911 reasons but also for convenience and reliability reasons. I've been at too many cell sites to rely on them for critical communications.

But, most consumers either don't mind the risk or don't understand it.
 

com501

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When you wake up at 3am having a stroke, and all you can do is punch 9-1-1 and lay the phone down, you will understand.
 

AK9R

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I keep a wired phone line at my home not only for E-911 reasons but also for convenience and reliability reasons.
I hung onto my POTS line for a long time because of this. I recently went with an Ooma IP-based phone. They make a big deal in the set-up of the phone about providing your home address so E-911 can find you if you call from that phone. Granted, I wouldn't trust the cell sites to find me in a timely fashion. I was also able to port my old AT&T phone number to the Ooma account. Even with my sometimes-lousy Spectrum cable service, my Ooma phone works fine.
 
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I had a repair man come here because my AT&T DSL was extremely slow. He checked everything all the way from the lines in my house, to the switching box down the road about a mile away. He said it is the equipment in the switching box that is causing the problem, and AT&T won't replace it since they want everyone on their U-verse system. They are just letting the old stuff go when it breaks and won't do anything to repair or replace it.

If I could get U-verse on my block, there would be no problem, but since I live in one of those "last mile" areas and those new lines are not slated for installation at all, there is no alternative - it's DSL or nothing. So, I'm getting screwed with very slow (peppered with other issues as well) internet that they know is not up to standard, and they won't do anything about giving this little development a decent internet connection.

Not a single cable company is on the road either that I could switch to, so I'm stuck with their crappy service. Their 6.0 DSL sometimes comes in at 20kbps.... yes, Kilobytes! My neighbor has HughesNet, and he is ready to rip it off the roof. If I want better internet, I'll have to move.
My FIL went through this. Newer neighborhood which was last-mile in area that had recently been annexed by the City of Fort Worth. He average 1M/250k on what was actually billed as U-Verse (but his internet was only $30 a month). I ended up doing some research for him and setting him up with a WISP for $40 a month who is consistently delivering a 12M/8M connection...most of the neighborhood has since migrated to that WISP as well.

I am just wondering out loud why ATT can't simply bond a couple dozen DSL circuits coming into a subdivision and deliver the last half mile wirelessly? The aggregate rate would be 24 times what they could deliver to one household continuously.

The equipment could be powered via the copper, and a small microwave base station could serve wireless terminals in each household.

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This is where Google Fiber is currently headed in my area. They discovered very quickly the cost of directional boring and it literally stopped their development extremely quickly. Currently they are delivering to a few of the downtown skycrapers via wireless backhauls but development to consumers has slowed to a crawl.

One part that often gets overlooked by people cutting their wireline voice service is that they lose the accurate 911 location capability.

Cellular is getting better, but errors and lack of accuracy are still an issue. Many consumers can't see the risk, they assume that dispatchers will know where they are, or that they'll be able to accurately and calmly provide location data to a dispatcher over a cell phone.

I keep a wired phone line at my home not only for E-911 reasons but also for convenience and reliability reasons. I've been at too many cell sites to rely on them for critical communications.

But, most consumers either don't mind the risk or don't understand it.
Newer technology is constantly changing and improving. Once upon a time, AT&T had their MyCell program for offering a 3G cell to homes without decent cellular service. Part of the setup was configuring E911 (address information) into the cell before you could begin using it. Fast forward nearly 10 years and the MyCell program has come to an end due to WiFi Calling featured in many newer phones. Even in my iPhone, it still requries you setup E911 addresses prior to use.

The argument of requiring a true land line phone through a traditional carrier is slowly being phased out now.

Interesting that you stated end of conditioned circuits by 2020. I've actually pulled one customer (a cab company) off a condition circuit they've had for nearly 30 years with AT&T. The main problem was at some point, AT&T changed it to a digital circuit (analog at either end) and the reliability dwindled.

Another customer still maintains their conditioned circuit to a remote campus (through AT&T). I'm not a POTS guy by any means so having to work on it (not to mention it's tied into a Smartnet I system) is one of my least favorite things to do because the customer still expects the radio shop to have a general understanding of analog conditioned lines (not even AT&T's current generation of techs have this understanding). It leads to a lot of down time trying to figure out where the break in the system as different technologies are used by different groups to try and diagnoise the system. Just for kicks and giggles, here are some photos I took of the latter customer's current setup.


(Oh yea, those are System D blocks and not 66 blocks)
 
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