The Life and Death of The Analog Telephone
You May Need a New Small Business Phone System
The analog telephone network has been around for almost 140-years. It has played a major role in communications, both voice and data, as the following infographic shows.
As of 2020, it is projected that US carriers will no longer have to maintain analog phone networks. In some states, as early as Jan 1, 2017, this legislation will take effect. As of 2030, the last remaining analog telephone line service is planned to be cancelled.
For your business, this means:
You May Need a New Small Business Phone System
Analog POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) lines, PRI (Primary Rate Interface), T1, ISDN are all analog connections. These will need to be replaced by a SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) connection, which is a protocol that allows for your phones or phone system to route voice over the Internet, VoIP.
If your phone system does not support SIP, you will need a new system. Hosted PBX, hosted voice or cloud PBX, which are some of the names it’s commonly called, is where the phone system is hosted in the cloud or data center and the end-user phones connect over the Internet to the remote phone system. There is very little, if any, hardware in the office.
Faxing Will Convert to IP or Die
Today, faxing relies heavily on the analog network. Fax over Internet (FoIP) is where the analog connection is converted to digital IP, and routed over the Internet. It has proven to be very unreliable in most cases, except where there are no network latency issues or packet loss.
The long-term solution is to eliminate the fax machine altogether, if possible, by using a scanner, email, drop-box or other digital document transmission.
Credit Card Processing, Emergency Phones and Alarm Lines Will Change
Since credit card transactions, alarm lines and emergency phones, such as elevator phones, are all dependent on analog connections, they will need to convert to an IP connection. Credit card machines will need to be replaced with ones that communicate over the Internet – and are a reality today.
Can I Use My Existing Phones on a VoIP System or Hosted PBX?
If you have a newer phone system (within the past 2-3 years), you might be able to reuse your current phones on a VoIP System or Hosted PBX.
There are several types of phones but the majority fall into two basic categories:
- Analog (you can plug them directly into a phone line, like at home)
- Digital (the voice signal is converted to binary 1’s and 0’s)
Analog phones are typically used in the home (wired or wireless 900MHz or 2.4GHz) but can also be used in a small office environment, especially with a wireless/cordless phone, where an end-user needs to be mobile within the office. This is a cheaper alternative than adding a digital wireless phone, which will likely require a wireless (Wi-Fi) network infrastructure to support connectivity to the phone system. You want to be careful, though, when connecting your home phone to your company digital phone system as there may be voltage differences that could destroy your phone or other equipment. Always check with the manufacturer before doing so.
Digital phones come in many varieties. Typically, each phone system manufacturer has their own proprietary phones. For example, Cisco phones for a Cisco phone system, Mitel phones for a Mitel phone system, Shortel for a Shortel phone system, etc. Most of these systems and phones today also support SIP.
Phones that are SIP capable will usually work on a SIP capable phone system, for example, a Panasonic phone will register and function on a Cisco phone system. Usually, you will need to install or upgrade the software on the phone to support SIP. One downside of running a 3rd party phone on a hosted PBX is that you will generally lose much of the functionality of the original equipment manufacturer. Cisco likes Cisco and Mitel likes Mitel, etc.
In summary, if you have phones you want to use on a Hosted PBX:
- Make sure they are compatible with the providers’ system
- Determine what features, if any, you will be losing
While you might be able to reuse your phones on a VoIP System or Hosted PBX, I would recommend going with the providers’ phones as you are more likely to have fewer problems and better support with a richer set of features.
To find out more about how to replace your phone system with a Unified Communications system, call us at 214-396-5858. We will be happy to assist you in finding the right solution for you.
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About the Author
As a ProAV/IT Solutions Architect, it is my job to design and sell AV/IT and automation solutions that will satisfy the clients needs both now and in the future.
I have been fortunate to have consulted with hundreds of church, museum and corporate accounts over the last several years regarding their AV/IT and automation needs, never losing sight that the AV/IT industry is a service industry