Analog vs Digital Telephones

Comparing Analog vs Digital Telephone Systems

The late 20th century saw rapid advances in digital electronics that spearheaded the design and manufacture of more capable and cheaper gadgets than those that used traditional analog circuitry. The digital technology had a significantly enormous impact on communication. Digital phones process sound as digital data and this improves on the analog calling features and makes new ones available. Despite the fact that analog phone systems are still available, digital phone systems have made significant inroads in the past years, thanks largely to the popularity of wireless phones and the availability of residential digital communications.

Analog Phone Systems at a Glance

Analog phone systems are the traditional phones that function by converting the input voice signal into electronic waves of different frequencies and amplitude that the telephone exchange receives and forwards to the receiving end. This kind of system uses Circuit Switching Network (CSN) whereby analog signals are transmitted through cables (copper wires) to provide point to point connectivity and to establish the communication.

Digital Phone Systems at a Glance

Digital phone systems function by breaking the voice signals they receive into tiny data packets that are then transmitted to the receiving end. The sound in digital phones is represented in binary form (a series of zeros and ones).

Comparing Analog and Digital Phone Systems

The following is a comparison of the analog and digital phone systems according to different parameters.


Telephones originated from the analog technology that was invented in the mid 19th century. Decades later, the computerized switchboards took the place of telephone operators and touch-tone dialling added more convenience, although the technology remained analog. However, the digital telephone technology is much newer, and it took shape in the late 1970s.


The analog phone has a mouthpiece that converts sound vibrations into electrical waves, and the earpiece changes the signals back into audible sound. The type of wiring used in analog phone systems carries audio signals that are susceptible to external electrical interference, especially when transmitted over long distances. The microphone of a digital phone system also converts sound vibrations into electrical waves, but an extra circuitry converts the sounds into computer data. The digital wiring then sends this data to the receiving phone, which then decodes it into the original sound. Since digital phones treat all calls as data, digital phone systems can store voicemail messages on a computer system.


Analog phone systems have simple internal circuitry, and they accommodate features such as three-way calling, speed dial, and caller ID. On the other hand, digital phones have extra capabilities such as voicemail notifications by web or email, call parking, and integration of phone services with the local computer network. Although analog phones can satisfy the requirements of most home users, the added features of digital phone systems appeal to businesses.


Analog and digital phone systems have different electrical characteristics and wiring requirements. However, special conversion devices convert one type of signal into another. For instance, the internal network of a phone company is digital and highly computerized, but most utilities still offer analog service to businesses and homes. The phone company changes the analog signal originating from the analog phones into a digital signal before transmitting it to its destination where it is changed back to analog.

Pros and Cons

Each of these systems has its advantages and disadvantages as stated below.

Advantages of analog systems include:

  • Simple to use
  • Cheap and easy maintenance
  • Requires minimal setup

Disadvantages of analog systems include:

  • Limited scalability with no need for a private branch exchange
  • They don’t fully utilize the bandwidth
  • Expensive for long-distance calls

Advantages of digital systems include:

  • High effectiveness of routing and call transmission
  • Lower monthly cost
  • High capacity for scalability
  • Able to transmit data and video
  • Can use soft phones instead of adding physical phones

Disadvantages of digital systems include:

  • Difficult to find the location of emergency callers (E911)
  • High-security threats because of the internet
  • Internet connections and power outages can interfere with communications

Since digital phone systems cost less and are easy to maintain, many small businesses can now enjoy and use features that were only available for large organizations and corporations. Over the last decade, the pricing for these systems have become competitive, and many business users are opting for digitals phone systems because of their affordability and extra features.