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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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