Telecom Collapse?

Erik (Caneris) erik_list at
Thu Dec 4 21:29:09 UTC 2008

I find it amusing that:
1. Many assume one is able to get POTS everywhere
2. How some use the term "POTS" when in reality they're referring to VoIP

Pardon the length, but to make the point, here's one of many Canadian examples some of us are intimately familiar with:
-Construction conglomerate starts up a CLEC
-Construction conglomerate doesn't permit ILEC into new subdivisions it's building in the heart of ILEC's territory, instead all POTS infrastructure including a "new CO" is built by its money-printing press...err, newly registered CLEC, which begins providing voice and data there
-ILEC's "mortal enemy", the local cableco, owns minor % of CLEC, and also happens to serve this new subdivision with its cable-based products
-A year passes. VoIP over HFC...pardon me, "Digital Cable Phone" is introduced. Cableco buys out remainder of CLEC.
-Cableco decides to throw out all the new equipment the CLEC has and begins forced migrations of customers to its VoIP...sorry, "IP Telephony" service over the cable network, refusing new POTS orders
-Cableco founder dies...oh wait, that's probably unrelated

Often MDUs (residential condominiums typically) here will create exclusive agreements with cablecos and others to provide "POTS" (POTS look-alike is often the result). But wait, cries the poor CLEC, what about my CRTC-given right of access to buildings so I can do the same thing?

You don't always have a choice. You just can't get "POTS" in such cases. If a change such as the one described happens, you simply have no choice but to move. The question then is, is the sole alternative equally as reliable? That seems to vary greatly on an individual basis.

If I'm just a user plugging in my 1980s Nortel phone into the same RJ-11 jack I had 10 years ago, it still looks like POTS with the same 911 reliability to me, right?  Just because my provider runs the largest HFC network in the province, has at most four hours of battery at the nodes and even less at an MTA, isn't a LEC, doesn't have the ability to get anywhere close to interfacing with the PSAP, relies on a third party to do all 911 prov for them, this party happens to be a CLEC of questionable quality and possessing severely broken OSS, doesn't mean that I'm not perfectly safe nor that I can't call this system "POTS", right?

How about CLECs who put up a "CO" in the field (and literally in a field!) and have no clue on how to power it in such a way as to prevent 13 hour voice and data outages? That reminds me I still need to request credit for that Sunday in November. If you guys are on nanog and reading this, just send over the $, eh? :)

So it can be argued both ways. Ultimately, it all comes down to marketing and hype. With everything going to IP at both the core and edge (yes, I chose the terms deliberately) and analogue-digital-analogue or TDM-IP-TDM-IP conversation happening so many times, the terms "POTS" and "VOIP" are becoming nothing but marketing speak open for abuse. Often, confused by marketing of the "big boys", the end users have no clue what they're using, especially when it's CPE-less like VoIP-behind-POTS or "hosted PBX" or FTTB or cable or even things powered by field equipment. A certain company here tells DSL folks they're on fibre and another one emphasizes to staff to refer to their cable phone service as "it's not VoIP, it's IP telephony" (I'm not kidding).

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From: Chris Marlatt [cmarlatt at]
Sent: Thursday, December 04, 2008 11:06 AM
To: Paul Stewart; nanog at
Subject: Re: Telecom Collapse?

Paul Stewart wrote:
> There's at least two cell phones in our house whenever the family is
> home and I have neighbors within quick walking distance.

That's assuming they're not doing the same thing you are, are home, or
are willing to let you borrow their phone. You're assuming a lot. I find
it surprising that many people replying haven't kept a 911 only POTS line.



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