There is much talk about how the public communications network (ie, "the phone company") fits into prepping plans. After many years of reading urban legends, half truths, and in some cases outright bullshit, I am hoping to clear up a few things. About me: I've been in the communications field for over twenty years. Prior to that, I was in broadcast radio, and of course a ham. I am currently employed as an electronics technician for a Very Famous Telecom Company with a world wide network that includes a fleet of orbiting satellites. I am qualified on Fujitsu Flashwave, OptiMAN, Gigaman, Tellabs Titan, Alcatel Litespan, D4, D5, SLC-96, PairGain, as well as traditional phone switches (Lucent 5ESS, Nortel DMS-100, Siemens EWSD). I realize this topic is way too large to comprehensively cover in one forum post, but I'll try to hit some of the major points. The Legend: Hardwired "landline" phones are reliable and simple. The Reality: This used to be a lot more true than it is now. Plain Old Telephone Service ("POTS") was the workhorse of the old Bell System. As customer traffic grew, new technologies were developed to make better use of copper cables, or reduce the need for copper cables at all. Copper is very expensive to install and maintain, and has a very limited traffic capacity. The prepper should understand that there is so much more to their beloved POTS line than a run of wire connected to a switch. The drop to your house does not go very far. If you live in a newer area, or are rural, the copper probably terminates in a cabinet known in the lingo as a remote terminal or RT (which requires a power source) where it is mixed ("multiplexed") with all the other traffic from your area. It is then converted to a light-based digital signal and sent to the central office on a fiber optic circuit. A similar setup in the central office unscrambles the data ("demuxing"), changes the light pulses back to an electrical signal, and sends it off to its next stop. The biggest advantage to this system is that voice calls, internet data, television, security systems, ATM transactions, credit card swipe machines, everything, can be multiplexed together and sent down the same pipe. There is no need for a dedicated pair of copper wires (or channel) for each and every individual circuit or customer. In some applications a copper-based DSx path is used. I will not dive deep into "T-carrier" technology here; suffice it to say that in rough terms they work on the same general principle as the optical circuits I just described except that they are heavily dependent on very accurate atomic clocks to operate properly. The timing signal comes from a GPS antenna at each facility. Prepper takeaway: Almost no one has a direct copper feed into a sturdy ol' phone switch. There are many points of failure. That 40+ year old Western Electric rotary dial phone hanging in your kitchen may make you all feel all gushy & nostalgic, but beyond a mile or two from your house, it's just another network device like everything else. Switched vs. routed networks. The Reality: Switched networks have been the standard since the dawn of the Bell System...but that's about to change. They work exactly as the name implies: A closed circuit is established (switched on) between two or more points. Communications is exchanged. When parties are done, the path is broken. This method is very reliable; the big disadvantage is that it's a very inefficient use of plant and equipment because most of the time it sits around doing nothing when there is no customer traffic. Think of it as a road that only one car at a time is allowed to use. Routed networks were a game changer: The internet could never function as a switched network. Instead of a dedicated path between points, a routed network "shares" paths between several users. Bit addressing means that blocks of data going to the same destination do not necessarily get there via the same path. The road can now accommodate many cars, and if a road is jammed, traffic is automatically routed another way. Each driver knows where they are going (address) so it does not really matter which road they take. This is a huge leap in efficiency. More traffic can be processed with less resources, and equipment does not sit around waiting for something to do. The disadvantage is that a failure effects many, many users. This problem can be partially mitigated with a principle called "network diversity" (alternate paths between destinations) so that failure in any one path does not completely cut off communications. There are failures every day that customers never notice because the large telecoms have spent billions on diversity. If you get your services from a cable company, AT&T uVerse, Verizon FiOS, Vonage, Magic Jack (or any VOIP), or any type of wireless provider including cellular/3G/4G/LTE, then you are already on a 100% routed network. There is a pervasive false belief among preppers that switched networks are more desirable. Whether they really are or not hardly matters because they are on the way out anyway. The large telecoms have been wanting to dump switched networks for years. The only reason they haven't (yet) is because the FCC wouldn't let them. As the regulatory hurdles slowly fall away, more customers are being moved to fully routed networks. AT&T is on record for committing to shut down all their switches by 2020 and has already made a lot of progress towards that goal. Verizon is looking to do the same. In the not too distant future you may be able to go to a hamfest and buy an entire 5ESS for cheap! Bring a forklift! Prepper takeaway: If your phone service currently terminates into a switch, sometime in next few years you will be moved to a pure routed network, probably without your knowledge. You may already be routed and not know it. Preppers should not think that having a wired POTS line is a huge advantage over a cell phone. Anecdotal evidence aside (it seems everyone has a story), the switched and routed networks have about the same uptime. In a disaster, the routed side will always have repair priority. The communications infrastructure in the USA overall is very well engineered and does not break easily. I'm sorry about the long post but I think this needed to be said and I hope it's informative. Questions are welcome and I will answer as best I can. If the moderators don't mind, I have cross-posted this on another web forum.