End users continue the POTS curb-kick. And it could hit you in the pocketbook.

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07/20/2010

potsdecline1

It’s a subject near and dear to my heart. POTS is going away. I’ve looked into the sunset, blogged about current and coming technologies, written news stories about the impending government mandated sunset, and done polls on it. SSN, for its August issue, conducted a tangential poll on the eventual sunset of current GSM technology, as well. Also check out SSN/SDN executive editor Sam Pfeifle’s in-depth look at GSM.

That poll had a lot of you scratching your heads.

“While you may be aware of a likely POTS sunset, are you aware current GSM technology will likely be obsolete in as little as five years?” the poll asked. Most of you who voted–76 percent–did not know current GSM technology had a limited lifespan. Most of you voters in that poll also said you were still installing POTS as the primary communications path, with 60 percent installing POTS, 34 percent installing GSM and eight percent installing radio networks.

It seems like POTS may be the first and last great, long-lived communications technology. It came, it had a great run, and now it’s on its way out as bells and whistles and consumers’ desire for cool stuff (and service providers’ desire to cash in on that) replaces Ma Bell.

IMS has a study out now that looks at the future of POTS over the next five years. They’re saying the money you guys will be getting from accounts monitored over POTS will be down by 20 percent by 2015. Who knows, really. I personally don’t know all that many people who still have a landline, but that don’t mean they ain’t there. So I guess if you want to continue to see the same levels of RMR in the years ahead, you’ll need to invest; the days of free are over.

According to IMS, most (90 percent last year? Does that sound right to all of you?) of the RMR you guys know and love was coming from accounts monitored over POTS. Time to start (or continue, if you’re already doing it) embracing the other techs like radio, GSM and broadband, all of which are making big strides. I’ve spoken with Shawn Welsh over at Telular and Keith Jentoft over at Videofied about their GSM solutions. I had a nice interview with Mike Sherman at AES Intellinet about their mesh radios, and have spoken with Steve Nutt over at IP Alarms and Bryan Field-Elliott over at VoIPAlarm about their solutions as well. There many well-tested options. But they ain’t free.

From the IMS release:

According to a new report from IMS Research, monitored alarm accounts using POTS (plain old telephone lines) transmission accounted for nearly 90% of RMR (recurring monthly revenue) in North America in 2009. However, this is forecast to decrease to nearly 70% by 2014.

Like I said, I think that POTS lines are a generational thing… I think there will be an exponential drop in their usage (no younger end users are going to want to pay to have them) as the younger generation ages and begins buying security systems to protect their more valued, aged lives and acquired property. Therefore the RMR you’ll see generated from accounts monitored over POTS will dwindle pretty quickly.

Again from the release:

The alarm industry is heavily dependent upon communications networks to provide an acceptable level of service, but with all the recent talk about the end of POTS, it is hard for dealers to know what to do.

True dat, IMS. One of the constants I’ve encountered when speaking with any of the advocates for all the current and emerging communications alternatives is that you need to get involved, get informed and ask LOTS and LOTS of questions. Continue to check in for more POTS, GSM, broadband and radio news.