US Based Users - The End of an Era is Coming (UNE Analog POTS/GSM)

For US based users you need to prepare for what 2022 has in store for you. I’m sure many have seen the Sangoma notices about traditional POTS (UNE Analog) being retired. In addition to that, 2022 is the year that all the major mobile carriers will be shutting down their GSM and CDMA networks.

This means that anyone still depending on traditional copper based POTS lines will need another solution. I’m not 100% on how the small, independent incumbents that 100% are the only carrier present are going to do this. However, incumbents such as AT&T, Verizon, Lumen (Level3/CenturyLink/Qwest), US Telecom and others are 100% discontinuing their traditional POTS services. This will impact any competitive carrier (CLEC) that is on their infrastructure.

At the same time, the major mobile carriers such as AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, US Cellular, et al. are in the process of shutting down their GSM/CDMA networks so they can open the spectrum up for more use in the 4G/5G range. This will mainly impact anyone that is relying on GMS Over IP devices for their systems. Granted there is a global push for GSM/CDMA to go away but other countries will have their own time lines but those can be pushed up. For example, Canada will still have GSM/CDMA at the end of 2022 meaning going from Canada to the US could result in the roaming you used to have no longer working because there are no GSM/CDMA networks to connect to. This will probably step up Canada’s retirement as it will impact A LOT of people and a few industries (logistics/trucking is a good example).

The big thing with both of these technologies being retired is that Verizon is being overly aggressive with the shutdowns. They have already starting notifying POTS customers to have an alternative in place because April 30th is their deadline. Copper will go dead after that date. This also seems to be the same date they plan on starting to shut down GSM/CDMA. So if you are a Verizon customer using either of these technologies and you haven’t done anything, do something now.

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This seems pretty shotgun approach. Unless something has changed recently things like Elevator phones were almost impossible to move to VoIP because of the redundancy required that they always be on and work even with power outage. So whats everyone doing for Elevator phones?

Also any older alarm system or credit card processing never works well over VoIP as its modem based communication and we all know how that works over SIP with a ATA or gateway. Granted you can update your Alarm System and Credit Card processing to more modern versions that are network based and/or 4G based but that does not help people who have existing systems in place.

There appear to be carriers that will offer a LTE based connection while maintaining analog connections to the endpoints, such as elevators or alarm systems.

Well that would depend. Not all elevators are connected to the PSTN. I do a lot of hotels and it’s 50/50 on whether the elevator is programmed to dial the front desk or using a operator service handled by the elevator company.

That said, in the cases where the elevator is calling an external operator it is a service provided by the elevator company (such as Otis) and in the last 4-5 years ever new install has been over 4G/LTE.

As for the PoS and other systems that used to rely on POTS, the vendors I’ve worked with have been supporting VoIP for years. It’s not that big of a deal anymore.

The order by the FCC was made in 2019. That was around the same time traditional POTS jumped in pricing again because part of the order was the fair-price clause was gone. The incumbents didn’t have to offer the unbundled network line anymore.

That order/report also covered the changes from 2008-2017 in which TDM networks accounted for almost 74% of the traffic on the PSTN in 2008. By 2017, TDM networks accounted for 35% of the traffic on the PSTN. Based on that you would guess that in 2022 that 35% could now be below 20%.

I would also like to point out that Mitel, while still offering support and replacement FXS/PRI/FXO cards for their old hardware PBXs, even they have moved to IP. They have made it so TDM based PBXes and their hardware are very, very cost prohibitive. Last year I had a hotel blow out their 6 channel FXS card, between the new card and having the certified tech swap it and program the new card the quote got up to over $8,000.

I get that a lot of us that have been doing this for years “feel” like TDM/POTS is still widely in use but the actual number don’t lie. TDM is no longer boss and is considered a hinderance to future development of communication solutions.

Ya for sure Tom all new modern things have moved off of POTS. I was referring to all these older elevators that had dedicated special POTS lines that a lot of fire departments still require to be installed. For example our local school elevator here does not allow a connection to the PBX. It has to be direct line that cost the school over 200 bucks a month. I was more making the case that alot of businesses are going to be shocked when their existing POTs lines stop working and they have to face lift their old elevators or god forbid modem lines for POS or other antiquated things.

The PSTN/POTS has been completely digital and essentially voip for a long time now. The last mile has remained “traditional” because the world is built around it. Alarm systems, gates, call boxes etc still remain mostly as analog devices. We are making progress sure. Many of these things now have radios in them for cellular or wifi communication. I would accept the last mile has become the last 100feet in some cases but copper is far from dead.

Certain business models do want to get you off of single purchases and move you to something with “AS A SERVICE” suffixed. I can sell you an analog card for a few hundred dollars one time or I can sell you something that you pay me monthly for. No brainer, service all day long if I am a company. I would never pay $500 for a copy of photoshop but I have paid them monthly for the last several years. All the cool kids want to sell you a service “cheaper” or by the spoon full rather than push you in to a single one time purchase.

By the way FreePBX is written in PHP a language that died 5000 times in the last 10 years because something better is replacing it.

We are no where near the death of copper. I assume copper lines will die exactly 27 years after fax does.

This is all in regards UNE Analog Lines that only can support analog voice and cannot support digital IP services including DSL. Here are a couple of snippets from the order, again this is from 2019 when this order went into effect.

Of the 454.9 million active voice subscriptions in the United States as of June 2017, only 55.8 million were provided by incumbent LECs. Of the remaining 399.1 million subscriptions offered in competition with these traditional networks, 335.7 million of them relied on wireless networks, 43.5 million relied on facilities based VoIP, 7.6 million relied on over-the-top VoIP, 4.2 million relied on their own built-out facilities (such as competitive fiber), 5.3 million relied on resale arrangements with other wireline carriers, and only 1.8 million relied on unbundled network loops, including UNE Analog Loops.

This basically means that roughly 10-15% of the active voice subscriptions are from ILECs and non-ILECs using unbundle network lines. Which covers UNE Analog that is now being retired.

For another, the continuance of the UNE Analog Loop mandate distorts competition in
the voice market by imposing unnecessary costs on one class of competitors (price cap LECs) and those competitors alone. There is a “substantial expense associated with offering and providing these regulated products,” one that “unfairly give[s] an advantage” over incumbent LECs to other market participants that “operate incumbent networks used to provide . . . voice services, yet are subject to no similar regulation requiring that they provide subsidized access to their networks.”

This basically means that AT&T, Verizon, US Telecom, et al. have more regulations and costs by maintaining this network for use while other incumbents (infrastructure owners) like Comcast or even Telnyx (who have their own fiber network) have no regulatory mandates to allow subsidized access to CLECs.

More recently, the Commission streamlined the process for incumbent LECs to retire their
legacy copper networks and replace them with fiber or other advanced technologies. And last year, the Commission adopted a streamlined process for carriers seeking to discontinue legacy TDM voice service provided such carriers offer a facilities-based interconnected VoIP service replacement and at least one other voice service is available in the service area. In doing so, the Commission explained that facilities-based interconnected VoIP service embodies the same managed service quality and underlying network infrastructure, disabilities access, and 911 access requirements found in legacy TDM voice service

Basically, Facilities based VoIP voice networks are equal or greater than the TDM voice service networks. Again, this was all done in 2019 which means that this process started in 2018 (at least).

I edited to say that Facilities Based (something I used to do) means that the service exists from within a Central Office facility. Meaning the service is delivered over a line from the telecom from the CO to your location. It can still be copper but it won’t be an UNE Analog because as previously stated, it can’t support IP. The dry loop DSL copper line still qualifies.

The full read:

TBF, my reference to the copper going dead was in regards to traditional POTS lines aka UNE Analog and Verizon’s cut off date. Any type of copper based service that does IP can still be used to deliver voice such as Facilities Based VoIP which is what most incumbents are moving to.

I agree with @jfinstrom. Analog POTS lines are nowhere near death. There are still millions of lines of pure copper in remote and rural communities where no digital service is available. Sure, this will put the UNE’s out of business in some areas but the incumbents will still provide analog on copper.

And how does this ruling apply to analog lines served by a fiber fed SLC? Is fiber to the SLC and analog to the endpoint still considered “copper POTS?” The iLEC’s have never (at least in former BellSouth territories) allowed UNE’s on the fiber SLC. Many of the RT’s were half fiber-fed and half DS3 fed and eventually denied UNE service to some areas served by purely fiber-fed SLC’s.

You can be certain that the former Bell iLECs are dying to get out from under copper. It is expensive to maintain and, frankly, hasn’t been maintained in years. For those in the mountains, remote areas, rural areas of low concentration, etc., there will still be miles and miles of copper and load coils serving these communities. Generally, there is no digital service of any kind except for the CO itself.

I think this whole thing is largely misunderstood FUD.

Yes, the FCC order from 2019 is all a lie.

Just because it is copper in the “last mile” does not mean it is a UNE Analog line at the CO. The incumbents want this, they already stopped new orders/installs per the FCC. They have jacked up the prices per the FCC.

The order also stated that UNE is no longer required for government contracts and all the carriers had to work with all government partners to migrate them.

TDM networks are no longer considered competitive. They are now classified as the opposite, they stifle the ability to be competitive. TDM networks are seeing a constant decline and UNE Analog is the leader is TDM based services that is declining.

In mid-2017 TDM made up for 34% of traffic from 74% in 2008. That is around a 40% drop in 10 years. It is 2022, logic and the data dictate at least that dropping to 20-15% of traffic. In another 5 years that will be even lower.

This isnt something that just happened. It was mandated 3 years ago. I dont think the incumbents are going to thumb their nose at the FCC regulation that they pushed for.

This whole order from the FCC is about Unbundled Service to competitors and has nothing to do with native POTS lines from the primary LEC. It is saying that the iLEC does not have to provide a copper pair to a competitor. UNE POTS is not the same as POTS from the incumbent.

UNE = Unbundled Network Element - As in allowing a competitor to provide service over your copper pair at a discounted rate.

The sky is not falling. The world is not ending. POTS service will live on…just not for iLEC competitors over the iLEC’s cable pairs.

Correct. Little local incumbents that aren’t subject to same thing as ATT could be in the free and clear. For how long? Not sure. Other factors outside of this are limiting the lifespan of TDM networks.

Correct, it will live on in very rural errors of the country for some time. In the competitive ILEC markets, which cover a huge portion of the country, the impact will be rather large.

My main market is New Mexico which has about a little over 2M people in the whole state. There are 4 or 5 local incumbents that are the only LEC in their area. At least two (perhaps three) are still only TDM while the others have a mix. The two that are pure TDM have about 5K population between them. It’s pushing to say there are 15K overall in all 5 areas. Of that, how many do you think still have a POTS line or are doing VoIP over cable? So when the rest of the ILECs like Lumen, ATT, et al. cut off POTS in the state less than 15K will not be impacted out of 2M.

I see nothing in this order to give the iLEC authority to discontinue POTS service. They can certainly move customers to a digital service such as their fiber to the home to get them off copper. Only the competitive LECs using the iLEC’s unbundled facilities are addressed by this order. Sure AT&T, Verizon, etc., can move your service from copper to a different type of delivery but they can’t just kill your service.

Don’t underestimate how many areas served by Fairpoint, Frontier, even areas of AT&T or Verizon do not have alternative delivery methods.

Yes. They have to move it. So do they just pick a new service for you? There has to be interaction with the customers. Some may go “Oh well, I havent used this in 2 years. Cancel me”. Techs will need to be dispatched. New equipment provided.

This is why the FCC told the carriers they must work with their partners to facilitate this.

So Verizon has notified their customers they must select a new service because the old service will stop working. If the customer does nothing, they lose their current service. Verizon will happily install the replacement once you tell them to.

When 7-digit dialing was ended we notified customers multiple times for months because we do hotels and that meant they needed to order new faceplates for their phones. Update guest material. We had less than a 50% response to work with us. We had complaints for over a month after we cut it off from people who ignored every notice and attempt to work with them.

Had the same issue with 911 and 10DLC. Carriers can only do so much in these situations, the users need to take action too.

Let’s not forget the Carrier of Last Resort requirement. Sure, if you do not respond to a notice that your copper service will end, then the onus is on the subscriber if they don’t make arrangements to transfer the service to new facilities. The carrier is not denying service, just modifying how they provide it. Nonetheless, the iLEC must still provide service to the subscriber in some form if the subscriber wishes to continue service.


Arizona, Alaska, and Maine, among others, allow COLRs to provide service using any

Look, at the point people can either heed this warning and pay attention because they will be impacted by this or have customers that will be impacted by this. Or they can ignore it. I’m good with either one.

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I agree but your thread title is disingenuous. It should read that some CLEC POTS service is going away and not insinuate that ALL POTS service over copper is going away.

There you go, I updated the title.

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What is crazy is I have still modems and they don’t work over voip at all. eg, many users are in smaller locations where i don’t expect pots to turned off overnight…

Why are you making it sound like this is going to happen without warning?

Places where the incumbent is the only option and they are not unbundling loops to competitors should be fine.

This is a heads up for people to pay attention and make sure their customers (if any) are aware. Just because one admins a PBX for someone doesn’t mean they see provider notices or emails. They could get a call one day with “My phones don’t work” find out the customer was notified 3 months before hand and did nothing.