AT&T Preparing To Do Away With Landlines For Good

With majority the telecoms industry migrating to IP based solutions and as advances in the wireless networking continually brings higher speeds and more versatile options to consumers, it may only take a few years before the traditional analog telephone set becomes obsolete.

This has become more evident as recently an article from San Antonio News Express  stated that AT&T has taken steps into eliminating the traditional POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service), as quoted below…

The number of U.S. landlines has dropped sharply in the last four years – 30 percent – slipping from 141 million at the end of 2008 to 102 million last summer, according to FCC stats. No doubt it’s fallen below 100 million by now. AT&T, which last fall said it’s begun trial runs at an all-wireless/IP future, will aim to do away with wireline entirely by 2020”

While in my personal opinion a 7-year transition time might be a bit short to fully eliminate the analog lines.

Excluding the traditional phone service, many other systems are highly dependent on the traditional landline.

One notable service is the emergency location service which pinpoints your location based on the circuit you used to call 911.

phone system

The elimination of the landline service also requires consideration of the dependent systems that is why there may be a lot of difficulties that could lead to the delay of the migration, although, it is highly possible that in the following years we will be serviced on a full wireless/IP system.

Impacts On Small Office and Home Office Systems

The transition to a wireless system will provide the same telephony services currently present and maybe integrate a few value added services as well.

As it will be based on IP, internet service will most likely be provided together with the telephone bundle without the use of ADSL modems compared to today. It is also possible that local call charges may be eliminated since it’s a full IP system as we can see now from most VoIP platforms such as Skype.

The call charges will likely be lifted by replacing them with Unlimited and Limited Data plans which may lower bills on an office system.

One negative impact, and probably the most critical, is that the loss of landlines could eliminate a reliable communication option during emergency situations.

Landlines today are powered by your provider (AT&T) and that is the reason why during power outages landlines are still functional. It will be a huge disadvantage when wireless communication options are down, and your office does not have any means of contacting for emergency.

Rest assured, consumer groups will be in close watch of the following transition to make sure critical elements are not overlooked.  As taken from the aforementioned article…

“You can bet that consumer advocacy groups will be watching the process carefully. An attorney with Public Knowledge told the news website that rules concerning the transition away from landlines still need to be developed.”

It will take a lot of planning and time from the FCC and the major carriers before the change can be implemented. Bit by bit roadblocks on implementing the change may go away, after all 7 years is a huge room for technological advancements and it is also a possibility that it will come sooner than expected.

Wired communication alternatives such as cable services or FTTH (Fiber to the home) that has been increasing popularity and probably not go away before the POTS does so it may be an option to consider VoIP-Based subscriber lines when planning to get a new line for your office to evaluate the impacts of the change.

It is still too early to tell when to switch your existing landlines but it is good to consider that this is how telephony would be in the future.