Plain old telephone service
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (December 2008)|
||The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United States and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (August 2013)|
Plain old telephone service (POTS) is the voice-grade telephone service that is based on analog signal transmission that was common before the advent of advanced forms of telephony such as Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN), cellular telephone systems, and voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). It remains the basic form of residential and small business service connection to the telephone network in many parts of the world. The term reflects the technology that has been available since the introduction of the public telephone system in the late 19th century, in a form mostly unchanged despite the introduction of Touch-Tone dialing, electronic telephone exchanges and fiber-optic communication into the public switched telephone network (PSTN).
The technology of plain old telephone service is characterized by several aspects:
- Bi-directional (full duplex) communications.
- Frequency range of the human voice (voiceband) of 300 to 3400 Hz.
- Signaling using call-progress tones, such as dial tone and ringing signal.
- Subscriber dialing.
- Operator services, such as directory assistance, long distance calling, and conference calling assistance.
- Standards-compliant analog telephone interface including BORSCHT functions.
In the United States and Australia, the pair of wires from the central switch office to a subscriber's home is called a subscriber loop. It is powered by direct current (DC), typically at a nominal voltage of 48V, supplied by a large bank of batteries in the central office facilities, resulting in continuation of service during most commercial power outages. The subscriber loop typically represents an electrical load of about 300 ohms, and does not pose a threat of electrocution to humans, although shorting the loop may be felt as an unpleasant sensation.
Many calling features became available to telephone subscribers after computerization of telephone exchanges during the 1970s and 1980s. The services include voicemail, Caller ID, call waiting, speed dialing, Conference calls (three-way calling), Enhanced 911, and Centrex services.
The communication circuits of the public switched telephone network continue to be modernized by advances in digital communications; however, other than improving sound quality, these changes have been mainly transparent to customers. In most cases, the function of the local loop presented to the customer for connection to telephone equipment is practically unchanged and remains compatible with pulse dialing telephones.
Due to the wide availability of traditional telephone services, new forms of communications devices such as modems and facsimile machines are designed to use traditional analog telephony to transmit digital information.
While POTS provides limited features, low bandwidth, and no mobile capabilities, it provides greater reliability than other telephony systems (mobile phone, VoIP, etc.). Many telephone service providers attempt to achieve dial-tone availability more than 99.999% of the time the telephone is taken off-hook. This is an often cited benchmark in marketing and systems-engineering comparisons, called the "five nines" reliability standard. It is equivalent to having a dial-tone available for all but about five minutes each year.
- AT&T Inc.
- Verizon Communications
- Century Link
- Frontier Communications
- FairPoint Communications
- Hawaiian Telcom
- Birch Communications
- BullsEye Telecom
- Broadview Networks
- Integra Telecom
- Level 3 Communications
- TelePacific Communications
- XO Communications
- Bestline Communications
- Xchange Telecom
- Managed Facility Voice Network
- RJ11 – the type of telephone jack common in most of the world for single line POTS telephones
- DTMF – the tones used for pushbutton dialing
- Local telephone service
- Category 1 cable
- Twisted pair
- 25-pair color code
- Foreign exchange office (FXO)
- Foreign exchange station (FXS)
- Network interface device