TDM Voice and POTS Are Being Retired. What Does That Mean For Your Business?

By: Chris Darr
May 31, 2022

FCC order 19-72A1 allowed telecommunications companies to abandon outdated copper POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) lines. It also mandates that end-users must switch to an alternative before August 2nd of this year. This order was issued back in August of 2019, and quite a lot has happened since then. It’s understandable if you’ve put your business’s legacy phone system out of your mind, but it’s definitely time to pay more attention.

What’s Wrong With Copper Pots?

Back in the 1880s when copper wires were first used to transmit phone signals, they were undeniably high tech, and by 1918, a trained technician could set up a new connection in 15 minutes flat. Quite a lot of time has passed since much of that copper wire was installed, and the years have not been kind; as is the problem with most aging technology, it’s getting harder for telecom companies to find replacement parts or technicians who know how to install them. Additionally, using copper wires has a few inherent disadvantages that will never go away:

1. Cost

Copper is really expensive, about $2.50 a pound, which is why criminals have taken to stealing copper pipes and wires. Chile leads the world in copper exports, but labor union strikes and the pandemic have made it difficult to keep up with the demand, and the demand keeps rising. Add low supply to high demand, and you get skyrocketing prices.

2. Corrosion

Over time, copper will react to its environment and will corrode if it comes in contact with water or an acidic liquid. When you see evidence of copper corrosion on a building or a statue, like the Statue of Liberty, it can look quite elegant. However, corrosion has a negative impact on copper’s ability to conduct electricity.

3. Safety Risk

Fiber optic cable doesn’t use electricity to send signals. Copper does, and if it’s damaged, it could start a fire.

4. Slower Transmission

Copper wire can’t transmit information as quickly as fiber optic cable can. Especially over long distances, that lag becomes more noticeable.

What's TDM, and What's Wrong With It?

Within the telecom sphere, TDM stands for Time Division Multiplexing. As futuristic as that sounds, it was developed way back in the 1870s as a way to send two or more signals over the same telephone line or radio channel. It requires a multiplexer at one end, which is a circuit that combines the signals, as well as a demultiplexer to separate the signals and route them to their destination. Just like most legacy technology that’s been in use since the late 1800s, it wasn’t designed to meet modern needs.

1. Inefficient

TDM systems must allocate dedicated time slots for each device, regardless of how often it might need to send something. They don’t multitask well, and can’t accommodate a higher bandwidth.

2. Complex

TDM systems are difficult to put in place, and it must be perfectly synched in order to send and receive information. It’s also difficult to add new phone lines, and you’ll have long waits for repairs.

3. Expensive

Any system that’s costly to maintain, where expertise and parts are increasingly hard to find, is going to be increasingly expensive to the end-user, one way or the other.

4. Downtime

Anything that goes wrong with a TDM system will take significantly more time to address than an internet-based system.

It’s simply not sustainable for your telecommunications carrier to keep maintaining increasingly expensive and unsafe systems when something much better and much cheaper is readily available. So while your business’s phone system may be the last thing you want to worry about right now, to be fair, the FCC did give you three whole years. Of course, no one had any way of knowing what those years would throw our way.

What Should Your Business Do?

telephone-company-bill-errorsIf you have a legacy phone system and have been receiving notices from your carrier that you’ll have to switch to a more modern system by August, don’t fret. You’ve got great options, and you’ll probably be paying less for a lot more functionality.

Researching modern phone options can be confusing. Some technologies, like VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), also go by different names, so comparing the various features and benefits of each service can be difficult. Furthermore, like most office technology, there’s no single best solution that’s right for every organization.

Marco’s phone experts have prepared a free in-depth guide to make your decision-making easier, or you might prefer this 10-question survey, which will assess your current and future needs, and point you in the right direction. Whichever option you choose, it’s best to make your decision sooner rather than later. August isn’t that far away, and the longer you put off upgrading your system, the longer you’re missing out on a better, more efficient, and simpler solution.

Expert Help Is Always Here

Researching different phone options for your business can be a challenge, especially if you’re still struggling to catch up with upgrading other systems and security tools. If you need quick help making the best decision, Marco’s experts are at the ready to get an in-depth understanding of your business and recommend the best solution and talk to you in plain language about exactly why they’re recommending it. Your time is valuable, and expert help is just a click away.Learn More About Cloud Voice Contact a Marco Rep

Topics: Phone & Collaboration