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College of Engineering and Technology

Bachelor of Science in Electronics Engineering (BS ECE)
Intramuros, Manila

Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) &

Private Branch Exchange (PBX)

Submitted by:
Cerbito, Keil T.
Santos, Maverick Z.

Submitted to:
Engr. Joan del Espiritu
Submitted Date:
February 2, 2015

I. Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS)

A. The Subscriber Loop

B. The Local Loop

C. Reliability

II. Private Branch Exchange

A. History

B. System components

C. Current trends

D. Functions

E. Interface Standards

1. Interfaces for connecting extensions to a PBX

2. Interfaces for connecting PBXs to each other

3. Interfaces for connecting PBXs to trunk lines

4. Interfaces for collecting data from the PBX

F. Hosted PBX systems

Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS)

POTS, is a term which describes the voice-grade telephone service that remains the basic
form of residential and small business service connection to the telephone network in most
parts of the world. The system was originally known as the Post Office Telephone Service
or Post Office Telephone System. Today the term Plain Old Telephone Service is used,
after the services were removed from the control of national post offices.

The pair of wires from the central switch office to a subscribers home was called the
subscriber loop. It was typically powered by 40VDC and backed up by a large bank of
batteries in the central office, resulting in continuation of service during most commercial
power outages.

This 64Kbps service is a bi-directional, or full duplex, voice path with limited frequency
range of 300 to 3400 Hz: in other words, a signal to carry the sound of the human voice
both ways at once. Today, it is also used for internet access via a dial modem, DSL, fax,
credit card terminals, etc.

Figure 1: Block Diagram of POTS

The standard two-wire telephone-set connection known as analog PSTN (Public Switched
Telephone Network) (loop start) or POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) is the oldest but still most
widely used service offered by the telephone companies.
Other types of analog services offered by the telephone companies include:

Four-wire services, using separate pairs of wires for transmitting and receiving provides
improved fidelity;

Reverse battery services allow automated PBXs to act as localized central offices;

POTS & PABX | Plain Old Telephone Service

Ground start and E and M tie trunks offer more reliable methods of signaling than the loop
start systems.

In addition to the public switched services, where the user can dial different numbers, private
point-to-point services are provided in both two-wire and four-wire formats.
The Subscriber Loop
The simplest and most straightforward form of telephone service is the PLAIN OLD
TELEPHONE SERVICE (POTS), which involves subscribers accessing the public telephone
network through a pair of wires called the local subscribers loop or simply the local loop.
The subscriber loop provides the means to connect a telephone set at a subscriber`s location
to the closest telephone office, which is commonly call an end office, local exchange office, or
central office. Once in the central office, the subscriber loop is connected to an electronic switching
system (ESS), which enables the subscribers to access the public telephone network.
It was typically powered by 40VDC and backed up by a large bank of batteries in the central
office, resulting in continuation of service during most commercial power outages.
The Local Loop
Local Loop is the most fundamental component of a telephone circuit. A local loop is
simply an unshielded twisted-pair transmission line (cable pair), consisting of two insulated
conductors twisted together.
A customer equipment (also called subscriber or terminal equipment) is usually connected
to the telephone company exchange (Central Office) by on average about 5 kilometers (3 miles)
of a twisted pair of No. 22 (AWG) or 0.5 mm copper wires, known as the subscriber (local) loop.
The resistance of 0.5 mm wire (single lead) is 16.5 ohm per thousand feet (54 ohm per 1 km). The
twisted pair is used to provide a balanced line which reduces common mode interference
(crosstalk) from adjacent pairs in the cable and RFI (Radio Frequency Interference). Balance is a
measure of equality of impedance between each lead in the pair (called Tip and Ring) and the
ground. In order to keep the balance of the line, the terminal equipment should be balanced also.

POTS & PABX | Plain Old Telephone Service

Figure 2: Local Loop

POTS is characterized by several aspects:

Bi-directional (full duplex) communications.

Using balanced signaling of voltage analogs of sound pressure waves on a two-wire copper

Restricted to a narrow frequency range of 300 to 3300 Hz, called the (voiceband), which
is much less than the human hearing range of 20 - 20,000 Hz

Call-progress tones, such as dial tone and ringing signal.

Dial pulse signaling of addresses.

BORSCHT functions.

While POTS provides limited features, low bandwidth, and no mobile capabilities, it
provides greater reliability than other telephony systems (mobile phone, VoIP, etc.). Many
telephone service providers attempt to achieve dial-tone availability more than 99.999% of the
time the telephone is taken off-hook. This is an often cited benchmark in marketing and systemsengineering comparisons, called the "five nines" reliability standard. It is equivalent to having a
dial-tone available for all but about five minutes each year.

POTS & PABX | Plain Old Telephone Service

Private Branch Exchange (PBX)

A private branch exchange (PBX) is a telephone exchange or switching system that serves
a private organization and performs concentration of central office lines or trunks and provides
intercommunication between large numbers of telephone stations in the organization. The central
office lines provide connections to the public switched telephone network and the concentration
aspect of a PBX permits the shared use of these lines between all stations in the organization. The
intercommunication aspect allows two or more stations to establish telephone or conferencing calls
between them without using the central office equipment.

Figure 3: Avaya G3si PBX (front cover removed)

Each PBX-connected station, such as a telephone set, a fax machine, or a computer modem,
is often referred to as an extension and has a designated extension telephone number that may or
may not be mapped automatically to the numbering plan of the central office and the telephone
number block allocated to the PBX.
Initially, the primary advantage of a PBX was the cost savings for internal phone calls:
handling the circuit switching locally reduced charges for telephone service via the central office
lines. As PBX systems gained popularity, they were equipped with services that were not available
in the public network, such as hunt groups, call forwarding, and extension dialing. In the 1960s a
simulated PBX known as Centrex provided similar features from the central telephone exchange.
POTS & PBX | Private Branch Exchange

A PBX is differentiated from a key telephone system (KTS) in that users of a key system
manually select their own outgoing lines on special telephone sets that control buttons for this
purpose, while PBXs select the outgoing line automatically or, formerly, by an operator. The
telephone sets connected to a PBX do not normally have special keys for central office line control,
but it is not uncommon for key systems to be connected to a PBX to extend its services.
A PBX, in contrast to a key system, employs an organizational numbering plan for its
stations. In addition, a dial plan determines whether additional digit sequences must be prefixed
when dialing to obtain access to a central office trunk. Modern number analysis systems permit
users to dial internal and external telephone numbers without special codes to distinguish the
intended destination.

Figure 4: Block Diagram of Small PBX System

The term PBX was first applied when switchboard operators managed company
switchboards manually using cord circuits. As automated electromechanical switches and later
electronic switching systems gradually replaced the manual systems, the terms private automatic
branch exchange (PABX) and private manual branch exchange (PMBX) were used to differentiate
them. Solid state digital systems were sometimes referred to as electronic private automatic branch

POTS & PBX | Private Branch Exchange

exchanges (EPABX). Today, the term PBX is far the most widely recognized. The acronym is now
applied to all types of complex, in-house telephony switching systems.
Two significant developments during the 1990s led to new types of PBX systems. One was
the massive growth of data networks and increased public understanding of packet switching.
Companies needed packet switched networks for data, so using them for telephone calls was
tempting, and the availability of the Internet as a global delivery system made packet switched
communications even more attractive. These factors led to the development of the voice over IP

Figure 5: PBX Switchboard (1975)

The other trend was the idea of focusing on core competence. PBX services had always
been hard to arrange for smaller companies, and many companies realized that handling their own
telephony was not their core competence. These considerations gave rise to the concept of the
hosted PBX. In wireline telephony, the original hosted PBX was the Centrex service provided by
Telcos since the 1960s; later competitive offerings evolved into the modern competitive local
exchange carrier. In voice over IP, hosted solutions are easier to implement as the PBX may be
located at and managed by any telephone service provider, connecting to the individual extensions
via the Internet. The upstream provider no longer needs to run direct, local leased lines to the
served premises.

POTS & PBX | Private Branch Exchange

System components

Cabinets, closets, vaults and other housings.

Console or switchboard allows the operator to control incoming calls.

Interconnecting wires and cables.

Logic cards, switching and control cards, power cards and related devices that facilitate
PBX operation.

Microcontroller or microcomputer for arbitrary data processing, control and logic.

Outside Telco trunks that deliver signals to (and carry them from) the PBX.

Stations or telephone sets, sometimes called lines.

The PBXs internal switching network.

Uninterruptible power supply (UPS) consisting of sensors, power switches and batteries.

Current trends
Since the advent of Internet telephony technologies, especially Voice over IP, PBX
development has tended toward the Voice-Over-IP (VoIP) PBX (or IP-PBX), which uses the
Internet Protocol to carry calls. Most modern PBXs support VoIP. ISDN PBX systems also
replaced some traditional PBXs in the 1990s, as ISDN offers features such as conference calling,
call forwarding, and programmable caller ID. However, recent open source projects combined
with cheap modern hardware are sharply reducing the cost of PBX ownership.
Originally having started as an organization's manual switchboard or attendant console
operated by a telephone operator or just simply the operator, PBXs have evolved into VoIP centers
that are hosted by the operators or even manufacturers.
Even though VoIP is considered the future of telephony, the circuit switched network is
still the core of communications, and the already bought PBXs are competitive in services with
modern IP systems. Five distinct scenarios may be recognized:

Hosted/virtual PBX (hosted and circuit-switched) or traditional Centrex

IP Centrex or hosted/virtual IP (hosted and packet-switched)

IP PBX (private and packet-switched)

Mobile PBX solution (mobile phones replacing or used in combination with fixed phones)

PBX (private and circuit-switched)

POTS & PBX | Private Branch Exchange

The PBX performs four main call processing duties:

Establishing connections (circuits) between the telephone sets of two users (e.g. mapping
a dialed number to a physical phone, ensuring the phone isn't already busy)

Maintaining such connections as long as the users require them (i.e. channeling voice
signals between the users)

Disconnecting those connections as per the user's requirement

Providing information for accounting purposes (e.g. metering calls)

Interface Standards
Interfaces for connecting extensions to a PBX:

DECT a standard for connecting cordless phones.

Internet Protocol For example, H.323 and SIP.

POTS (plain old telephone service) the common two-wire interface used in most homes.

Proprietary the manufacturer has defined a protocol. One can only connect the
manufacturer's sets to their PBX, but the benefit is more visible information displayed
and/or specific function buttons.

Interfaces for connecting PBXs to each other:

DPNSS for connecting PBXs to trunk lines. Standardized by British Telecom, this usually
runs over E1 (E-carrier) physical circuits.

Internet Protocol H.323 and the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) are IP based solutions
for multimedia sessions.

Primary rate interface (ISDN) Provided over T1 (23 bearer channels and 1 signaling
channel) or E1 carriers.

Proprietary protocols if equipment from several manufacturers is on site, the use of a

standard protocol is required.

QSIG for connecting PBXs to each other, usually runs over T1 (T-carrier) or E1 (Ecarrier) physical circuits.

Interfaces for connecting PBXs to trunk lines:

Internet Protocol H.323, SIP, MGCP, and Inter-Asterisk eXchange protocols operate over
IP and are supported by some network providers.

POTS & PBX | Private Branch Exchange

ISDN the most common digital standard for fixed telephony devices. This can be supplied
in either Basic (2 circuit capacity) or Primary (24 or 30 circuit capacity) versions. Most
medium to large companies would use Primary ISDN circuits carried on T1 or E1 physical

RBS (robbed bit signaling) delivers 24 digital circuits over a four-wire (T1) interface

Standard POTS (plain old telephone service) lines This is adequate only for smaller
systems, and can suffer from not being able to detect incoming calls when trying to make
an outbound call (commonly called glare).

Interfaces for collecting data from the PBX:

File the PBX generates a file containing the call records from the PBX.

Network port (listen mode) an external application connects to the TCP or UDP port. The
PBX streams information to the application.

Network port (server mode) the PBX connects to another application or buffer.

Serial interface historically used to print every call record to a serial printer. In modern
systems a software application connects via serial cable to this port.

A data record from a PBX or other telecommunication system that provides the statistics for a
telephone call is usually termed a call detail record (CDR) or a Station Messaging Detail Record
Hosted PBX systems
Virtual PBX systems or hosted PBX systems deliver PBX functionality as a service,
available over the public switched telephone network (PSTN) or the Internet. Hosted PBXs are
typically provided by a telephone company or service provider, using equipment located in the
premises of a telephone exchange or the provider's data center. This means the customer does not
need to buy or install PBX equipment. Generally the service is provided by a lease agreement and
the provider can, in some configurations, use the same switching equipment to service multiple
hosted PBX customers.
The first hosted PBX services were feature-rich compared to most premise-based systems
of the time. Some PBX functions, such as follow-me calling, appeared in a hosted service before
they became available in hardware PBX equipment. Since introduction, updates and new offerings
have moved feature sets in both directions. It is possible to get hosted PBX services that include

POTS & PBX | Private Branch Exchange


feature sets from minimal functionality to advanced feature combinations. In addition to the
features available from premises-based PBX systems, hosted-PBX:

Allows a single number to be presented for the entire company, despite its being
geographically distributed. A company could even choose to have no premises, with
workers connected from home using their domestic telephones but receiving the same
features as any PBX user.

Allows multimodal access, where employees access the network via a variety of
telecommunications systems, including POTS, ISDN, cellular phones, and VOIP. This
allows one extension to ring in multiple locations (either concurrently or sequentially).

Allows scalability so that a larger system is not needed if new employees are hired, and so
that resources are not wasted if the number of employees is reduced.

Eliminates the need for companies to manage or pay for on-site hardware maintenance.

Supports integration with custom toll plans (that allow intra company calls, even from
private premises, to be dialed at a cheaper rate) and integrated billing and accounting.

POTS & PBX | Private Branch Exchange