What's The Difference Between
T1 and POTS?
Both T1 lines and traditional
"Plain Old Telephone Service" analog lines can carry
telephone calls. Here's how they differ.
By: John Shepler
T1 and POTS are both telephone services.
In one way, they work the same. You pick up your phone handset
and you hear dial tone. You then dial the number you want. If
your business has a PBX telephone system, you'll probably have
to dial a number such as "9" to get an outside line.
But that's got nothing to do with the type of phone line you
are using. It's simply so that outside lines can be shared, since
you don't really need a hundred lines for a hundred employees
unless everyone is living on the telephone.
What is POTS?
Let's start with POTS. It's an acronym
that stands for Plain Old Telephone Service. I'm sure that whoever
came up that scientific term thought long and hard about it.
POTS really is a good term because everybody can nod in agreement
about what a POTS line is. Plain old telephone service is that
pair of copper wires that connects to a standard telephone and
provides power to the phone, a ringing signal when calls come
in and connectivity to the phone company central switching system.
How Analog Phone Lines Work
A POTS line, usually just called a phone
line, can hook directly to a standard analog telephone. It can
be one of several lines that you select with a key telephone
system or it can connect directly to a PBX phone system. With
POTS you can get local and long distance service, Caller ID and
other calling features. POTS lines are also used for dial-up
computer access using modems and they connect directly to alarm
systems for central monitoring.
T1 As a Digital POTS Trunk
T1 can be thought of as a digital carrier
for POTS lines. You can't plug a T1 line into a regular telephone
set. But you can plug a T1 line into a T1 interface card in a
PBX system. When you do that, the PBX can use the T1 line in
place of up to 24 POTS telephone lines. You'll never notice the
difference, other than perhaps the phone bill. The advantage
of T1 is that it's cheaper to bundle all those individual phone
wires into a single digital line that runs between your office
and the phone company. The price advantage usually comes at 8
to 12 phone lines, although it might make sense for fewer lines
if you do extensive long distance calling or want to split your
T1 line into 12 phone lines plus broadband Internet service.
T1 For Voice and Data
Because T1 is a digital service, it can
carry both digitized telephone and/or Internet data. It can also
carry other things like broadcast audio and surveillance video.
T1 lines come in a variety of flavors. You can get inbound and/or
outbound calling, local and/or long distance service, voice and/or
data. Long distance rates are very attractive if you can commit
to thousands or tens of thousands of minutes per month or more.
A specialized form of T1 called T1 PRI or Primary Rate Interface
is used by call centers. It provides 23 telephone lines plus
Caller ID and Automatic Number Identification data.
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