When conversation turns to a debate of VoIP vs POTS one of the common arguments in favor of keeping at least one POTS line is the idea that a plain vanilla phone doesn’t require AC power. It’s power comes down that very same POTS line from the phone company, so in theory it remains operational in the case of a power outage. This is fast on the way to becoming a myth.
The idea itself is not wrong. You could have a very plain phone on your POTS line, and it would work during a power outage. However, the simple fact is that at least in the US…almost noone has a simple line powered phone anymore.
Consider as supporting evidence the following photo:
My apologies for the image quality. It was taken with my Blackberry Bold…a superior phone, but inferior camera.
This pic was taken in a Target store near my home. My wife had asked me to pick up a couple of things on the way home. Since I was in the store I thought I’d check out the aisle where they sold phones. They had a selection of phones, mostly cordless, and every last one…corded or cordless… required AC power.
Herein lie the transformation into myth that I referenced earlier. Even if you have an analog line, it’s very unlikely that you have a phone powered by that POTS line.
Should this be cause for alarm? Are we left exposed? Should there be new legislation? Probably not.
The simple fact is that as we have become a more technological society this transition was essentially inevitable. Most people have cell phones, some have only cell phones and not home phone at all.
Those of us who still have home phones can use a simple UPS to provide power in case of emergency. Some people, most notably AT&T U-Verse users, get a UPS as part of their service. Their voice line will be sustained during a power outage.
When we had the late, lamented ION service from Sprint it too included a UPS built into the CPE (pictured below)
People who use other VoIP services may have to take more direct responsibility for providing such capabilities. As we have not had POTS lines since 2005 we’ve taken care to ensure that our core network and phones remain functional during any short power outage. Back when I established this blog that was one of the first strategies that I sought to share.
Can we now lay to rest the idea that a line-powered is a real benefit to the PSTN? If you don’t have such a phone it remains an unrealized benefit. If you’re providing a UPS to run your phone then you could also be running your network and using your VoIP service, as we do.
I’m reminded of the old boy scout motto…”Be Prepared.”