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Connecting Digital Phone Service to Existing Home Wiring —Ditching the Big Phone Company

If you’re like me you’ve “talked about” eliminating your Analog, or what is sometimes referred to as POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service), for years. Sadly, here’s an instance when talk isn’t cheep, and I continued to overpay for phone service month after month, too afraid to make the switch. As one of my friends put it when she finally cut the cord, “why would I pay extra to simply allow telemarketers to call me?”

UnknownCaller
The dreaded Unknown Caller

She has a point. Think about the how you talk with the outside world. Most of our important communication with family and close friends is done either through text, e-mail, or cell phone calls. In contrast, many of the calls we receive on a home-line come from strangers.

CellPhones

Inspired by her pragmatism, I once again shared with everyone my big intensions to go cold turkey cellular! That was until another wise girlfriend asked: “what my children would do in an emergency when I was out with my phone?” Oh that’s right—THE CHILDREN. You must note that I am of the philosophy that a child only needs a cell phone when he/she is old and responsible enough to pay for said phone. And if the point of ditching the home phone is to save money, is it not missing the mark entirely by outfitting every last one of us with an individual calling plan?

StreetAccess
NID (Telephone Network Interface Device). This box is the transition point between the phone network, owned by the Big Phone Company, and my home wiring, owned by me.

Still, I needed a way ditch the bill from the Big Phone Company. Now it was a matter of pride. To say, “Hey, you don’t control me!” I did my research and determined that a digital phone, or VoIP (Voice over Internet Provider), was the route best suited for our family.

WallPhone
Kitchen wall phone

Those who have grown up without cell phones understand the familiarity, and reliability that comes with traditional landline phone service. It is difficult to give up.

HiddenHandset
The misplaced handset

I felt that with a digital phone line I could replace much of that familiarity without compromising on reliability. Including: multiple phones tied to one number, voice connection between handsets, and the ever faithful wall mounted phone in the kitchen—the one you can always find no matter where the remote handsets have been tossed.

DigitalAdapterBox
The Digital Phone Adaptor Box arrived in the mail a few short days after I requested service.

Connecting VoIP to your existing copper lines is really quite easy. I am—absolutely—not a tech savvy gal, and yet I figured out how to do it. Your VoIP provider will send you a Digital Home Phone Adaptor. It’s a small box that transfers the Internet signal from your modem into a phone line. The signal enters the Adaptor Box through an Ethernet Cable and exits via a standard phone cord.

DigitalAdaptorBox2
The blue cord is the Ethernet Cable connecting the Adaptor Box to our Wireless Modem. The white cord is a a traditional phone cord. The black cord plugs the Adaptor to an electrical outlet.

When the Adaptor arrived in the mail I connected one phone to it and left our other phones in operation for a couple of days until our old phone provider was notified by our new digital provider.

PathOfThePhoneCords
Our unfinished basement allowed me to see how one main phone cord was spliced and additional lines were sent upstairs to multiple rooms

Once our regular phones went dead and the digital phone line became active I then explored how I could connect the rest of the jacks in the house to the adaptor.

StreetAccess2
If we had a Cable Internet provider this is where I would have disconnected our house from the phone company. I couldn’t though because this phone cord is what carries our DSL Internet signal into the house.

Because we use a DSL Internet connection I couldn’t simply “unplug” our house from the phone company. Had our Internet provider been through Cable this is what I would have done. It’s super easy. You just need to locate the small NID box on the outside of your house and pull out the phone cord.

CustomerAccess

It even says “costumer access” on the box, so no need to worry that you are engaging in any unlawful activity. It is completely within your rights to disconnect your house from your local phone company.

JunctionBoxOriginal
Originally four phone cords entered this junction box. The two entering on the left (now removed) supplied the phone jacks in the house. The two on the right supply the splitter box that was installed by our DSL Internet provider to service our Wireless Modem.

Instead I followed the path of the outside phone line as it entered our house through the basement. Since our basement is largely unfinished, at this point in time, it was easy spot the junction box where the phone line entered from the outside and from which several main cables branched off to the rest of the house.

PhoneToInternet
The Splitter Box. I didn’t touch this but I could see that it was being used to connect to our Modem

All I had to do was remove the phone cables from the junction box that went in the direction the phone jacks. I left the phone cable coming from the outside, and the other supplying our DSL Internet in place. I’ll admit it was intimidated at first to pull the wrong wire out. To say that the Professor encouraged me is an understatement in domestic communication. He went so far as to pick up a screwdriver and start the job on his own!

JunctionBoxNewWithJack

Next I bundled the lines going off to the house together in a new phone jack.

PhoneChordWithConnectors

Then I ran a basic phone cord, the kind with connectors on each end, from this new phone jack to the Digital Home Phone Adaptor box.

DigitalAdaptorBox2
The Adaptor Box is now connected to all the copper wiring in the house

 

PhoneJack2
We can plug a phone into any jack and receive digital phone service

In reality, all the copper lines in my house are now connected to the Adaptor box. And like magic all the phone jacks operated like they did on the analog system.

I also found a great tip on YouTube for stripping the insulation off of fine copper wires. Heat the end of the wire with a lighter flame for a couple of seconds. Remove the flame and slip off the plastic coating. Don’t believe me? Check it out

Am I happy? Yes, we chose Primus as our Digital phone provider. For a very small fee it allowed us to keep all the calling features we like and worldwide long distance. The sound quality has not diminished and our monthly bill for locale and long distance calling is 70% less than it was. Take that Big Phone company. You don’t control me anymore!

2 thoughts on “Connecting Digital Phone Service to Existing Home Wiring —Ditching the Big Phone Company

  1. This is a great project. We started using VOIP over 9 years ago and are currently using Google Voice, which gives you free calling within the US & Canada (but is only available in the US). I’ve thought about hooking it up to the wiring in the house but never did when we owned a house and haven’t wanted to attempt to as renters.

    The only trouble we’ve had is with the occasional loss in call quality, ie. robot voice or one party being cut out entirely. In case you encounter this in the future, it’s usually caused by insufficient bandwidth. Sometimes this can be avoided by having a sufficiently fast internet connection, but even then, you just have to make sure that QoS is set on your router. I can go into more detail if you want to know – knowing this beforehand can save you a lot of potential headache later on.

    Hope this continues to work well for you – in my relatively short married life, I’ve only paid for a home phone for one year, and I don’t want to go back!

  2. Thanks Kevin. The problems you mention is what kept me from making the switch in the first place. So far we feel the quality hasn’t skipped a beat. I am impressed that you have (almost) never paid for a home phone.

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