AT&T Looks to Discontinue Copper Landline Phone Service State By State

Telephone Copper Wire

AT&T plans to discontinue copper landline phone service in Illinois, the latest of many states where it is doing away with the service.

The Illinois General Assembly approved an AT&T-backed telecom modernization bill allowing the carrier to disconnect its remaining 1.2 million landline customers in that state, the Chicago Tribune reported. The assembly overrode Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of the legislation.

Discontinuing copper landline phone service requires both state and federal approvals. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed a plan aimed at simplifying the copper, legacy service retirement process.

The FCC’s plan focuses on easing the transition to IP networks, streamlining network notification rules, eliminating rules that require service providers to dedicate capital to maintain TDM equipment and speeding up the legacy service discontinuance process.

In a blog, Dave Talbott, AT&T’s assistant vice president of federal regulatory, said since 2012 consumers have doubled down on wireless and IP-based services, largely abandoning plain old telephone services (POTS) in favor of these newer services.

“Today, fewer than 10 percent of households subscribe to POTS in the states where AT&T is the traditional phone provider, demonstrating that consumers are already making their technology transition,” he said. “Businesses also have moved on. When businesses grow, they are faced with a choice of how to meet their expanding communications needs. More and more, they are choosing IP-based services that can carry both voice and large amounts of data as opposed to extending older, archaic services.”

Moving quickly to replace obsolete networks and services minimizes the investment necessary to maintain them, and frees up investment that can be redirected to building next-generation networks and the more capable services they support, Talbott said.


  1. Mary July 8, 2017 @ 9:31 am

    Leave my landline alone.

    • NITA WHALEN July 13, 2017 @ 12:35 pm

      I agree

  2. NITA WHALEN July 13, 2017 @ 12:34 pm

    I dont want to give up my land line. I am so tired of people telling me I cant have things I depend on.Also my moms and my neighbors life alerts are hooked up to their phones

  3. Tony Olibas July 20, 2017 @ 5:36 pm

    What will businesses do for their fire alarm & elevator phone lines as they are required to be POTS lines?

    • Jeff Mabry January 24, 2018 @ 12:42 pm

      Fire Alarm Comms , as well as burg , elevator etc …will transition to cellular.

    • Rick O January 25, 2019 @ 12:54 pm

      Our alarm company has transitioned about 75% of our fire alarms to cellular signal paths, and we have started replacing elevator POTS with cellular as well.

  4. Brendan Queenan July 21, 2017 @ 12:57 am

    Does AT & T supply FTTP or supply FTTC over copper?

  5. David August 3, 2017 @ 10:20 am

    The reason that few people have copper is because ATT won’t ALLOW the copper option anymore. It’s a huge racket. Total BS.
    Plus, their digital phone service is awful. At least copper was more reliable.

    This is America: headed toward 3rd world status under the guise of Progress (read: Profit)

  6. BILL VODA September 21, 2017 @ 8:57 am

    I live in a “dead-spot” for cell service! I have to walk onto the roadway for a block or so to get cell reception. How’s THAT going to improve??? What do I do in an emergency–shout?

  7. N14LH September 21, 2018 @ 1:30 pm

    Wake up, America! Do you not remember 9/11?! Heaven forbid, but if a major attack comes again, do you not think the government will shut down cell service as well as the Internet? Those two digital communications services are how the ‘bad guys’ communicate! POTS not only is regulated differently but is used exclusively by emergency services, e.g., police, fire, hospitals, etc. by whom I have been told that they will not migrate to VOIP communication because it is unreliable. For those with VOIP telephone service, you must realize that it utilizes the Internet exclusively. Not to mention the fact that if your electricity goes out (even with a minimal battery backup), you will no longer have telephone service. Unfortunately, providers today SELL their VOIP service as a ‘landline’. It is absolutely not a landline except from the standpoint that it is not portable. Do not be fooled! Anyone with only digital telephone service is very vulnerable!! For almost 100 years, my grandparents, parents and I have been loyal AT&T landline customers. What an ‘in your face’ disservice the illustrious company is doing to its customers, Bottom line, Hands Off My POTS!!

  8. NYB November 12, 2018 @ 4:51 pm

    What a one-sided article.
    How about addressing issue like cell and internet phone going down when you need a phone the most?
    We just had some nasty fires here in California.
    Guess what still worked?

  9. Bill Alvarado February 16, 2019 @ 12:23 am

    I am very hearing impaired. I have a “CapTel” captioned phone her in San Francisco. Even if I didn’t have that, I have them put a “tone” to check the clarity of my transmission from time to time . When the clarity of my transmission drops on my Verizon iPhone I get no help. Eventually they are going to want us all just to text one another because voice will be too much trouble for them to maintain quality service. Copper is too much trouble for the companies to maintain. They are convincing everyone to go to cellular because it’s convenient to walk around. And not be stuck in one place. Copper whether on poles or buried has proved it’s self time and time again through various natural disruptions. Not so with cell transmission. Some days I can’t get across town on my cell.

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