VoIP vs. POTS: Advantages and Limitations

VoIP or Voice Over Internet Protocol has opened up a string of possibilities for its users. But can it truly replace POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) as the telephony of choice for majority of the world's population? After all, VoIP seems to deliver on its promises and potential. Here, we take a comparative look at the advantages and limitations of both VoIP and POTS.

Advantages of VoIP vs. POTS

Flexibility of use

VoIP is more portable than POTs. A traditional phone line 'locks' you in its geographic location. With VoIP, the user can access the service via an Internet connection in virtually any place in the world. It's like having the connectivity features of a mobile phone except that connections are made through the Internet.


Another advantage of VoIP over POTS is that the service is cheaper. Call rate charges are less than POTS and mobile phone services. This can be an outstanding advantage if the user frequently makes or receives long distance calls.

Offers bundled services

There are many POTS services that are now being offered as part of a bundled service by VoIP phone companies. These include caller ID, voice mail, call forwarding and three-way calling.

Since these services are bundled, that also means that they are part of a standard VoIP package. With POTS, these services are considered extra.

Some limitations:

VoIP relies on the quality of the user's Internet connection. If the connection is defective or heavily utilized, the calls made to and from the VoIP phone may not be up to par. It will also require electricity in order to work and in some cases, might also require a little technical knowledge on the part of the user to set up a few features.

Advantages of POTS over VoIP

No specialized equipment

With POTS, once the phone line has been established, all you will need is a phone and a phone jack. Plug the phone in and you can begin receiving and making calls from it.

No electricity required

Unlike VoIP phones, regular POTS phones do not require power in order to work. Of course, this is with the exception of wireless POTS phones that often require regular batteries in order to be used. In case of power failure or the absence of spare batteries, a phone running on POTS can still work.

Operator services

VoIP can sometimes require some technical knowledge to set up and use. With a POTS, users can literally plug and go. They can also access services such as operator-assisted calls and information, conference calling and directory assistance.

Some limitations:

POTS charges are generally higher compared to VoIP services. Location of the service is also severely limited for basic packages, although call forwarding can solve this problem.