What Is a POTS Number?

By Louis Kroeck

POTS networks have many different features.
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POTS is short for plain old telephone service and refers to the standard land line telephone service that has been in place for many decades. A POTS number refers to the number used to identify your land line telephone service, or your home telephone number. Plain old telephone service is still commonly used throughout the United States and the rest of the world, but VOIP, or voice over Internet protocol, is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to POTS service.

POTS Number

A POTS number, or telephone number, is an address that can be used to reach a device on a telephone network. The length of a telephone number will vary based on the country you are in. In the United States a telephone number is fixed in length at ten digits. The format used for telephone numbers in the United States was developed by Bell Telephone in 1947.

POTS Service

POTS service was originally an acronym for post office telephone service, but the acronym was dropped after post offices lost control of modern telephone networks. While modern POTS service has some similarities to original POTS service of the 19th century, several improvements have been made including voice mail, caller identification, speed dialing, call waiting and conference call functionality.

VOIP Service

A modern competitor to plain old telephone service is VOIP service. VOIP service allows users to make telephone calls over the Internet by using the Internet protocol. VOIP translates analog voice signals into digital packets so that they can be transmitted over the Internet. VOIP is often more cost effective than traditional POTS systems, so many large businesses have migrated to VOIP systems.


In choosing POTS or VOIP there are several pertinent considerations. Although VOIP may be more cost effective, offering more features than POTS and providing similar sound quality, POTS offers some distinct benefits. VOIP is powered by your home electric service, but POTS has its own independent power source, therefore POTS is much more effective in emergency situations. For phone number selection, there is no material difference between POTS and VOIP.