Global POTS line decommissioning: the end is near

Global POTS line decommissioning: the end is near

Since we last wrote about the decommissioning of POTS lines in the US and across Europe, the deadlines continue to draw near, making it increasingly urgent for companies to migrate their voice communications to over IP (as a result of all telephone exchanges soon to be inoperative). As a reminder: the switch-off affects both the US as well as all European countries. It is important that companies proactively make the change from analog to digital sooner rather than later.

While some countries haven’t set hard deadlines for the switch, Spain, Telefónica and its FARO project are setting a different course. Telefónica had originally targeted the shut-down of its copper networks to be completed by April 19, 2024, their 100th anniversary. The project will now extend through March 2026, however, the majority of the still active centrals will be shut down by the end of the current year. For Spanish businesses, the closure of 8,532 exchanges means that copper lines will be essentially inoperative, requiring all voice communication to be migrated to IP. The unintended impact can often be overlooked: fax communication.

In Spain, analog lines are still widely used for fax communication in government, finance, manufacturing, and other industries. As Telefónica runs the entire Spanish copper network, shutting down the exchanges means that companies might no longer be able to send or receive faxes, independently of which telco provider they’re using. This means the crunch time is now, and organizations should be planning and implementing new cloud-based solutions capable of IP faxing.

Other key timelines across the globe

Because there is no single timeline or mandate across the globe, the decommissioning of the legacy technology has been an ongoing process for carriers and telco providers. Individual companies and countries have elected to set their own timelines.

Not all countries and carriers are completely decommissioning POTS lines, though. Depending on the country, analog lines may still be operational by legacy customers, but general pricing for such technology has been deregulated. This basically means that the price to install, use, and maintain it is getting more and more expensive.

In the US, the FCC issued a federal mandate around the decommissioning of POTS services by the end of 2022, requiring service providers to replace POTS lines with an alternative service (that being a digital solution). This resulted in many providers and telco companies bringing an end to their maintenance and support for the aforementioned.

Orange in France, similar to the process taking place in Spain, have announced the end of fixed telephone lines, no longer offering new fixed analog subscriptions. Through 2030, they will be systematically transferring all analog lines to digital countrywide.

In the UK, the sunsetting of POTS lines is expected to be completed by December 2025. Legacy Public Switched Telephone Networks (PSTN) technology services and their associated infrastructure will be made permanently inoperable by then.

For Canada, most telco providers are not installing new copper phone lines. This process has been ongoing since 2023, with most having already retired their copper networks. Additionally, DSL internet is not longer being offered as it runs on copper lines. Furthermore, Tier-1 operators in North America and globally are requiring their customers to move away from TDM (T1, T3/45, etc.) access internet service and POTS lines. Big players in the industry like Bell Canada and TELUS International have officially discontinued copper.

In Australia and NZ, landline telephone services will be discontinued 18 months after broadband is available. Though this phase out is announced, the time line and specific deadline is unclear.

Your country not mentioned? Retarus is connected to many different carriers and regulatory bodies around the world. If you want specific details on individual countries or IP-related trends, let us know. We’d be happy to walk you through existing legislation and how it affects your business communications.


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