Analog phones and other endpoints have been slowly fading away over time. While there are still some applications for analog ports for services on VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) telephone systems, manufacturers are developing non-analog replacements for these capabilities. Resellers can actually lose money by selling basic, analog phones and the equipment required to support them. Here are four examples:
Hardware – Analog phones are very basic, lack features, and are typically used in lobbies, break rooms, hotel rooms, and dorm rooms. These devices require analog ports, line cards, or adapters that can be expensive and difficult to maintain and take away from the system’s overall capacity. Resellers end up having to oversell to customers to support these devices in order to ensure that future capacity for IP endpoints can be met. Because analog phones are so basic, vendors may end up having to replace these devices due to customer dissatisfaction. Basic IP phones have more features, like message-waiting lights, displays, clocks, caller ID, speed-dial buttons, and speakerphones—all applications that are important to most end users today. Many hotels and dorms are using IP phones instead of analog phones to improve functionality for their guests and residents.
Wiring – Analog devices require separate wiring instead of using the multipurpose data cabling that IP phones work with. VoIP solutions work differently—and more effectively. The building block of VoIP technology is the ability to run voice, data, and video traffic across a single network, a concept often known as convergence. Many hotels are now using basic IP phones in their rooms to reduce wiring costs. When installing analog phones, resellers will have to spend more time and money on wiring, which makes moves, adds, and changes more expensive and complex. Even though IP endpoints may cost a little more on the surface, the infrastructure used to support them is easier for installation, administration, and maintenance, which will cost both the reseller and the customer less in the long run.
Applications – Some analog applications like elevator emergency phones, credit-card machines, and fax machines require analog hardware and wiring for support. There are options available today to replace these applications with different hardware/software that will work better and require less complexity. For instance, instead of having to provide hardware and wiring for elevator emergency phones, vendors can offer wireless products that are easy and inexpensive to install, like the ESRM GSM Elevator Connect 1000 or a Talkaphone VoIP-500 Series IP Call Station. Traditional credit-card machines can be replaced with VoIP products like VeriFone’s VX 570 IP countertop solution. Companies can use fax software via a PC or use a service like RingCentral Fax instead of a fax machine. This reduces complexity for vendors and hardware costs for customers. None of these devices requires analog hardware for connection, and, best of all, none of them requires a separate analog telephone line.
Analog Lines – Sometimes analog endpoints—like fax machines, emergency elevator phones, and credit-card readers—also require their own analog lines in addition to hardware to support them. These lines are billed for on a monthly basis and can be costly. Analog lines require their own hardware on a VoIP system as well, complicating installation and maintenance even further. For every analog line that can be removed from a customer’s premises, vendors will not only be reducing their customer’s monthly bill, but also mitigating the cost and complexity of installation, maintenance, and administration of these lines.
Analog devices can be costly and complex for both vendors and companies. Manufacturers are steadily developing products for traditional analog applications like phones, fax, credit-card readers, and emergency phones that do not require analog hardware or lines for support. Vendors should find partners that sell these solutions in an effort to move away from analog. In the near future, copper-based analog lines will be a thing of the past, because many dial-tone providers are seeking their demise. Telecom giants AT&T and Verizon Communications are lobbying states, one by one, to end the copper-wired line business. These two providers want to lay the crumbling POTS (plain old telephone service) to rest and replace it with IP-based systems that use the same wired and wireless broadband networks that support Web access, cable programming, and telephone service. Analog line service is expected to no longer be supported by the end of the decade, so resellers should be looking ahead and be putting analog endpoints and lines behind them.
Does your company sell analog endpoints? Are you aware of some of the analog endpoint replacement reflected in this article? Will you start planning for the end of the analog era? Please comment below.