POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service)

Plain old telephone service (POTS), or plain ordinary telephone service, is a retronym for voice-grade telephone service employing analog signal transmission over copper loops.

POTS was the standard service offering from telephone companies from 1876 until 1988 in the United States when the Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) Basic Rate Interface (BRI) was introduced, followed by cellular telephone systems, and voice over IP (VoIP).

POTS remains the basic form of residential and small business service connection to the telephone network in many parts of the world. The term reflects the technology that has been available since the introduction of the public telephone system in the late 19th century, in a form mostly unchanged despite the introduction of Touch-Tone dialing, electronic telephone exchanges and fiber-optic communication into the public switched telephone network (PSTN).


  • Bi-directional (full duplex) communications.
  • Using balanced signaling of voltage analogs of sound pressure waves on a two-wire copper loops
  • Restricted to a narrow frequency range of 300–3,300 Hz, called the voiceband, which is much less than the human hearing range of 20–20,000 Hz
  • Call-progress tones, such as dial tone and ringback tone.
  • Dial pulse signaling of addresses.
  • BORSCHT functions.
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