POTs Lines are Everywhere!

Disclaimer: The topic of this entry (POTs lines) was specifically requested by a business partner. When I discuss POTs lines, I get confused looks, and typically even confused responses in that discussion. “Why are you dealing with POTs lines?” It’s the lowest common denominator of the telecommunications industry, but only as a product. The need it solves is the core of this blog entry. My ask is that you disregard the “widget” (an ask that is often a challenge for many of the “widget” minded folks I know) and focus instead on the business problem associated with the consumption of this particular technology.

Let’s start with a quick definition…the below is the first hit when you Google POTs lines:

Short for plain old telephone service, which refers to the standard telephone service that most homes use. In contrast, telephone services based on high-speed, digital communications lines, such as ISDN and FDDI, are not POTS. The main distinctions between POTS and non-POTS services are speed and bandwidth.

It’s funny how even its own definition quickly begins distancing itself from itself, a seeming inferiority complex at its core. It goes beyond general self-deprecation and enters a whole other realm of loathing.

Companies still need POTs lines. Companies still fax things (shocker, but I also have clients with a vibrant pager/beeper user community). Companies still have POTs lines for alarms, and elevators, and certain monitoring equipment, and…etc. My industry inherently orients towards THE BIG THING… and POTs lines are not in most of their thoughts. So that which receives little focus receives little resources; minimal investment, minimal enhancements, not so much minimal client satisfaction as total indifference.

But, companies still need POTs lines. So given my recent career pivot to a more service oriented offering (in case you don’t keep up, you can visit an explanatory post here.) I find myself orienting less towards the product (or widget) and more towards the business problems that consuming said product may cause. In my new role I either have to solve the problem or absorb the problem on my client’s behalf…or more common, a little bit of both. We have moved a shocking amount of POTs lines in the two years of my new role. Every state in the nation, at last count, had a POTs line (or many) implemented by my team. When I mention this to colleagues in the Business Development/Sales side of the industry, they look shocked. One specifically asked, “How can you show your face, working with POTs lines???”

Simple answer, there. I solve a rather large problem. The consumption of POTs lines is very difficult. There are problems of regionality and location-specific limitations, billing nightmares, pricing restrictions, and the general malaise associated with the service as a whole. Also, troubleshooting can be a nightmare and I’ve watched Network Engineers, SysAdmins, Help Desk personnel, and even a few IT Vice Presidents spend hours trying to fix an issue on a fax line.

So…we have found several partners that focus exclusively on POTs lines. They, with pride, embrace their otherwise prideless product. We use one partner, almost exclusively, because they are the best in our overall experience. The world is full of tallest pygmies, and the best of a thing is still the best, regardless of the thing. We have solved problems, we have impacted workload, we have solved pain/absorbed pain, we have streamlined and created efficiency, we have embraced the un-embraceable, and…well, we have seen success.