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Self-Contained POTS System?

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8 hours ago, CC_333 said:

One *can* still get a genuine POTS line through a Tel Co, right?

 

They're obsolescent (been that way for years now), but my understanding is that FCC regulations still exist (for now) that require that they remain online, as they're considered a public utility.

What? What planet do you come from??? :-p We as a nation would be in a serious load of trouble if there were no more land lines tomorrow. Same if the postal system disappeared tomorrow.

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I'm from Earth, like (almost?) everyone else :)

 

I haven't been following any of the latest developments, but last I knew, landlines were here to stay. I'm glad to know they still are.

 

There are many rural places without cellular service or broadband internet, so a landline with dial up is the only option if people there want to communicate with anyone in a somewhat modern-ish way.

 

Increasingly, however, wireless carriers are expanding their reach, so there very well could come a time where landlines are no longer necessary. But for now, they're an *extremely* important bit of infrastructure.

 

c

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The Swiss national phone company made a statement some years to the effect that analogue telephone would not be supported within a couple years. I assume that they meant that all exchanges would be digital only.

The landlines stay as they are but the nature of the signal changes.

Glass fibre cables are being laid down at a rapid rate but Switzerland is geographical divided into two - there is the flat-ish land between Lake Geneva and Lake Constance and 90% of the population lives there and there are the Alps. Both regions are roughly the same in area but the former gets all of the infrastructure while the latter doesn't. It is easy in a place like Switzerland though, to lay down cable, because 7 million people live close together. I imagine that the larger cities around the world are no different while the rural areas with very sparse populations must do without.

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On 6/5/2018 at 10:40 PM, CC_333 said:

One *can* still get a genuine POTS line through a Tel Co, right?

Depends on what you mean by "genuine".

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Well, genuine in this case means some sort of copper line that runs to a box at my house, and that I can plug a plain old phone into without any special considerations.

 

c

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6 hours ago, Cory5412 said:

Depends on what you mean by "genuine".

If I can attach my Western Electric Model 500, and get a dial tone. :-p

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Verizon is phasing out copper networks in areas served by Fios, so you'll have that dial tone, just connected to an optical network terminal. Meanwhile in areas that haven't been upgraded to Fios, the copper network is literally falling off the poles and rotting away. "Maintenance" consists of a high tech solution known as a trash bag and duct tape and that is the few splice boxes that actually get covered with something. Most of them lay exposed.

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Even in Idaho, most LECs don't repair copper anymore.  Worst case, your POTS line is now a cellular adapter out on the pole, which doesn't even support FAX, let alone dialup Internet.

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Well, as best as possible, given the current "situation" :)

 

If The Big One hits, though, I'd imagine things won't seem very earth-like.

 

c

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I always remembered that as a PSTN. I haven't touched dialup since 1999 when I got really frustrated with it as even at that time, the internet was racing past dialup and the load times were getting more and more ridiculous. 

Edited by techknight

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It's probably worth distinguishing between "POTS" and "PSTN" since they technically mean different things and they potentially describe different technologies.

 

Most people use POTS to basically describe (in US terms) a a phone line that's entirely analog from the local central office switch (a DMS-100 or ESS5, or similar) to your house. PSTN refers more widely to the entire public switched telephone system, and I'd argue, to more modern implementations of "home phone line" which basically involve things like DOCSIS cable modems that have analog phone adapters in them, or DSL modems that have analog phone adapters in them (your cableco and AT&T U-Verse, respectively) or a copper DSL line terminated at a DSLAM which itself can generate dial tone and has an analog telephone adapter in it (these exist but IDK who is using them yet) or a fiber version of the same (almost any fiber line, some are IP-based up to the home, some are TDM over the fiber, but the distinction sometimes matters.)

 

And really, to put a finer point on it, neither of them is being asked for here. What OP really wants is a line simulator so they can more easily dial one computer from the next, or a PBX so they can do the same but either multiple times at once or without having to re-wire things.

 

I had dial-up until 2006, so I associate it with newer computers than some. Like, if I had a PBX set up as such, I'd probably get a modem for my  Beige G3 or for an iMac G3 and connect it to my LAN that way. It would be overly complicated and arguably it would be bad since there's really nothing preventing me from buying that length of normal Ethernet cable and putting a gigabit switch in my room and using the network that way, but it would hit an oddly specific nostalgia button for me, especially with something like hotline or the 68kMLA IRC channel (and wider Internet, so I can look at system7today) on the other end.

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On 6/7/2018 at 7:12 AM, joethezombie said:

Worst case, your POTS line is now a cellular adapter out on the pole, which doesn't even support FAX, let alone dialup Internet.

Wow, who is this? I haven't seen this in particular. CenturyLink here in Arizona is still pretty good with the outside plant, but it's also Arizona and so probably the biggest challenge in most of the state is heat. In the mountains, it would be boxes near streets during the snowy season. I know Verizon is spectacularly bad, Frontier wants to do better but can't with the money it's got because it's been dumped on badly, and I don't know about AT&T, but they (like CL) are investing in better DSL technologies so it would make sense that they'd take okay care of their plant.

 

On 6/7/2018 at 1:35 AM, CC_333 said:

Well, genuine in this case means some sort of copper line that runs to a box at my house, and that I can plug a plain old phone into without any special considerations.

That's a fairly permissive and normal definition. Some people go crazy if their line has been in any way modernized from how it was originally installed, or if they're in an area where remote terminals had to be used to accommodate growth or because the customers were too far from their local phone switch. Believe it or not, there are people who are against the idea of "the phone company" supplying services via fiber, for essentially bad aesthetic preference and historic reasons.

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4 hours ago, Cory5412 said:

That's a fairly permissive and normal definition. Some people go crazy if their line has been in any way modernized from how it was originally installed, or if they're in an area where remote terminals had to be used to accommodate growth or because the customers were too far from their local phone switch. Believe it or not, there are people who are against the idea of "the phone company" supplying services via fiber, for essentially bad aesthetic preference and historic reasons.

Yeah. I don't really care too much about *how* it works, or what the underlying structure is (most of the "traditional" circuit-switched phone network is digital nowadays anyway, aside from maybe the last miles once the signals leave the CO, and that stretch, as you mentioned, is largely being replaced by some sort of digital medium and being converted to analog at the end of the line). I just care mainly about the functionality (if I plug a dial up modem, fax machine or analog phone into the wall, it "just works" with no special adapters or workarounds).

 

4 hours ago, Cory5412 said:

I had dial-up until 2006, so I associate it with newer computers than some.

I had dial up until 2009, so I have used it with fairly recent computers (my 2008 Mac Pro and various 2007-era MacBooks, to name a few) running fairly recent OS'es for the time (Snow Leopard and Windows 7, in this instance, though those were only at the tail end).

 

Although, it in my opinion, it became relatively useless around 2007 or so; it worked, but it was becoming increasingly frustrating (I had to go to town 15 miles and ~20 mins away to do anything significant, like downloading updates, say). I was ecstatic when we finally got "high speed" internet at our house, although it is pretty much at the bottom of what could be considered fast (even basic DSL would be more consistently fast and reliable). It totally suffices for mot things, though, so I can't complain much.

 

The main reason I'd want to go back to dial up to any extent whatsoever is nostalgia. And, besides, many older computers and operating systems (in my experience) tended to be designed with the assumption that dial up is the primary means of connecting to the internet (making connection via ethernet somewhat awkward without updates and special software; the more modern concept of connecting via broadband did exist quite early on, though, it just wasn't very common in the consumer market until the late 90s/early 2000s, when it became more common and affordable).

 

I think I've derailed this thread enough for now.

 

c

Edited by CC_333

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My first DSL package I ever got which I think was in 1999 or so, it wouldn't get online unless you went to the main page and "signed in". Like hotel style today. 

 

Once your signed in, the internet would start working until you rebooted the modem or etc. then you would have to sign in again. 

 

Glad that crap went away. 

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On 6/9/2018 at 9:56 PM, CC_333 said:

POTS = Plain Old Telephone System, aka standard landline.

Add analog tip and ring signalling over EMP survivable analog switching networks to that definition. With current technologies there wouldn't be enough infrastructure left to patch together comms for even a small town in the aftermath of such a nuclear event.

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Well, this is getting a bit "out there"? :lol:

 

Up where I am, many of the lines are still old copper (most are at least 20 years old), so maybe if one were to tap into them at certain lengths (obviously, this isn't sanctioned by any Tel Co., but if the worst happens and civilization as we know it is obliterated, who cares; the Tel Cos. will most likely be destroyed or their equipment so severely damaged that it cannot operate) and set up simple analog repeaters based on old, analog designs that would be somewhat immune to EMPs, we could have a very rudimentary communication system up and running fairly quickly.

 

However, since only the most rudimentary forms of switching would be possible, the POTS lines would, in effect, become a huge intercom system with many hundreds of extensions.

 

Kinda like it was when it was first invented in the 1870's!

 

Learning morse code might not be bad either, as it would be easier to transmit on noisy lines.

 

Sooo... getting back on topic....

 

A similar setup can be done at home using a battery, a few resistors or capacitors I think, and a couple phone cords connected to two modems, one of which would be acting as a RAS (Remote Access Server) that the other modem "dials into" to get online.

 

PBXes are fine and good, but if one only needs to "dial in" one computer at a time, it seems like overkill?

 

c

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1 minute ago, CC_333 said:

PBXes are fine and good, but if one only needs to "dial in" one computer at a time, it seems like overkill?

Absolutely not! Some modems will listen for a dial tone and will not operate until it is detected. Now, there are hayes commands to disable this behanvior, but it may not support that command functionality. Moreover, the full line voltage may be needed, proper ringing, etc. 

 

A PBX can be had for pennies on the dollar if you know where to look. I'd go as far as to say that paying for one is even overkill; just head to your local University and see if they have some old Nortel boxes sitting around waiting to be decommissioned. 

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3 hours ago, techknight said:

My first DSL package I ever got which I think was in 1999 or so, it wouldn't get online unless you went to the main page and "signed in".

I know Qwest was like that. It's one of the reasons T1-fed DSLAMS were at all practical - if your max speed is 384k and the 48 subscribers on your 1.5 megabit T1 all disconnect when they're not using it, it's easier to justify overselling that badly. These kinds of systems are often still in place and are extremely over-sold as the baseline went up to 1.5 megabits. Fun times. Qwest was replacing these with fiber-fed lines, but that stopped pretty shortly once CenturyLink bought them, which has been a shame.

 

48 minutes ago, CC_333 said:

but if one only needs to "dial in" one computer at a time, it seems like overkill

Using PBX hardware to do it can still make it a lot mroe convenient, but yeah, it's possible and it has been done to build line simulators that are barely any bigger than, like, a phone cord coupler.

 

Ultimately, it depends on what you've got and how you're using it and how your modem and software works, etc etc.

 

Ultimately, the better way to do this is probably to either use an analog telephone adapter with a bit of smarts to just simulate dialing directly into whatever system that's connected to (you might be able to do this with asterisk, for example) or just use a serial cable between two machines to make your connection. It's just that sometimes a machine has a modem and so I can understand wanting to use that.

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Thanks for all the info.  I hadn't posted again as I didn't have anything to add, but I have followed the thread with interest and this project is still something I hope to do someday.  Not in the immediate future as it appears to be more complex than I had hoped but still sometime in the future.

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