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

    Leave my landline alone.

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

      I agree

  2. Avatar 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. Avatar 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?

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

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

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

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

  5. Avatar 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. Avatar 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. Avatar 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. Avatar 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. Avatar 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.

    • Avatar davedutchess March 10, 2019 @ 1:42 am

      With everything going cellular and cordless toward 5G- the industry hides the issue of radio frequency radiation. Cordless phones also have high rf emissions, as do routers for wifi and cellphones.
      But it’s all about the Benjamins!
      Like the internet, business and tech pump out new stuff without researching or thinking it through.
      Search: EMF Safety………and enlighten yourself.

  10. Avatar Dustin Ginsberg March 20, 2019 @ 9:12 pm

    I have an AT&T POTS copper landline, for which I’m paying 50% more than my AT&T Fiber to the House 100 Mbps up and down internet service. In the last two months my landline service has gone out four times, including just now, which will have to be repaired. The first time recently was a couple months ago and then in the last month it’s been out every week after they come to repair it. At least they came the next day in this last series of repairs, but now they’ve scheduled it for three days later through the automated system. The first repair man said the whole section is going bad and AT&T needs to replace it with a bypass and he would recommend that to his supervisor, but didn’t know if they wanted to spend the money. Since I’m paying 50% more for this service than I am for Internet, I feel it is their responsibility to maintain it as long as they still provide the service. An alternative I may have to go with is not VoIP, but a fiber-optic version AT&T offers of the Public Switched Telephone Network, Pulse Code Modulation system used by the copper wires but sent through fiber. Although it does not provide electrical power to the phone, but it should provide the same location identification and work the same way with the alarm systems, etc., although I do not know if that is federally regulated, as the copper landmines are. I think by not properly maintaining their copper lines they’re trying to coerce people into switching to either their fiber PSTN pulse code service or VoIP, but I will not switch until they officially get rid of their copper service.

  11. Avatar George Nobody April 17, 2020 @ 10:50 am

    Copper land lines are the only service that will remain if we have an attack in this country. The government already has plans to stop all IP and other wireless service including internet if it happens.
    As for ATT and Verizon, all it is based on money. Providing cell service is a lot less costly and they do not need 80% of their people who work in the central offices now. Wake up people. Demand that a service that is safe be kept and tell the big carriers to figure it out. Also don’t let the cable companies like COX and Comcast fool you. all their service is also in jeopardy if we are attacked.

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