POTS? VOIP? Wha?

Hey there!

In a recent workshop, I casually tossed out the acronyms (yes, they’re acronyms, not just abbreviations) for two types of telephone lines you may have: POTS and VOIP.

I got a bunch of looks (and later, email) from people whose common question was, “Wha?”.

So. What’s the secret meaning of POTS and VOIP?

There are two types of ways you can enjoy landline phone service these days. One is the traditional wire that carries analog phone signals, in pretty much the same way as they have been for over 150 years, since Alexander Graham Bell decided he need Watson, so he rang him up.

That’s called a POTS (pronounced, um, “pots”) line by telephone company engineers. because it’s a Plain Old Telephone Service line.

Honest.

(They are slowly but surely being phased out. You can still get POTS lines, but you have to try really hard to get them.)

The other type of land line service, now very common, is a digital phone line that uses similar looking equipment, but is actually digitizing, encoding and sending your Voice Over the Internet using Internet Protocol to make the connection. Hence, VOIP. And yes, it’s pronounced “voyp.”

The phone company provides you with POTS lines, and companies like Magic Jack, Vonage, AT&T Uverse, Verizon FIOS, your cable company’s phone service and even Skype provide VOIP phone service.

Now you can go have a meaningful conversation with that guy in the truck with the cones out on your curb.

Are there any other acronyms or abbreviations that I can help you with? Let me know in the comments below.

Hope this helps.

David

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  1. I have AT&T for landline and IP. Would you recommend Phone Jack or Vonnage instead. I believe they would be cheaper?