Answer

Are there still PSTN lines or have telecoms moved on?

Are there still public switched telephone network (PSTN) lines or have most telecoms already moved themselves to the "Internet" and only the last mile looks like the old PSTN? The last mile already seems to be disappearing quickly in the cities.

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According to the United States Telecom Association, just 25% of all households in the U.S. will have copper dial tone by the end of this year. It was reported recently that some telephone companies in New Jersey where hurricane Sandy buried cable with flooding decided not to replace copper facilities. These telephone companies are installing more fiber, however. While there is a major disconnect from homeowners refusing to pay high prices for landlines without any mobility, there remains the business side of the carrier play.

Many businesses and government agencies, like public services, police, fire and rescue, as well as local and state governments, still require analog lines for numerous reasons. The latest anticipated "death" date of the PSTN was June 15, 2018. However, current providers and managed service providers simply don't have the resources, services and tools that many consumers and small- and medium-sized businesses require. There are regulatory and non-regulatory issues involved in killing the PSTN.

My guess is that the death of the PSTN will continue to be a moving target. The other hold is that the carriers are trying to protect erosion of revenue from T1 or Primary Rate Interface (PRI) services to businesses. Bandwidth costs are the leverage that firms have over dial tone and T1/PRI, but how services are delivered to businesses isn't usually via fiber -- it's still by way of copper. Granted, copper facilities are not being replaced with copper, but I believe you will find more fiber and plenty of fiber capacity remaining from the dotcom bubble. While the date has and probably will continue to change, implementing this kind of change means people and businesses will need plenty of time to migrate off the PSTN and into the cloud. The question at hand is, "What is your migration plan off the PSTN?" This is a question every business in the U.S. needs to start addressing.

Do you need advice? Submit your unified communications and collaboration questions to editor@searchunifiedcommunications.com for our UC experts to answer.

This was first published in August 2013

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