Question

Landline Tech Info Wanted

Oct 16, 2016 8:17AM PDT

Hi, I'm looking for a good place to get information on landline cordless phone troubleshooting.

We are hearing voices from other people on our cordless landline phone as well as ghost calls that ring strangely but don't connect. The phone company claims this is our problem because of nearby phones. But we've had problems in the past with a line issue that was always bad when it rained that they fixed eventually, but may be failing again. And since we are rural, there are not a lot of chances for actual interference; only one house is closer than 2000 feet and the voices are not theirs.

Anyway, I couldn't find any technical forums to discuss this in my first round of web searching. Any technical discussion would be appreciated.

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Comments
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Answer
Re: landline
Oct 16, 2016 8:23AM PDT

I'd try it with a non-cordless phone. If that's OK, it's an issue with your phone. If it does the same, it's their problem.

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more questions
Oct 16, 2016 8:30AM PDT

Thanks, yes we are planning for that.

I was also wondering if anyone was familiar with the technology to discuss the range at which this cross connection is even possible. I understand that scanners can pick up a cordless phone from quite a distance (1 mile plus) (and that this is legal to record!) but we are looking at one cordless phone picking up another one and that seems unlikely and perhaps impossible at distances of over 2000 feet. The conversations are lower volume but crystal clear.

Do you know anything about the technical limits of this kind of crossover?

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That crossover was known in cordless phones from a long time
Oct 16, 2016 8:35AM PDT

The last time I heard that was over a decade ago with old analog cordless phones which I think was really 2 decades ago. The stuff from the last ten years is paired to the base station and as such you can't just buy a phone of the same make/model and listen in today.

But there are folk with tin foil hats that worry about it. Not much you can do about that. Let them worry.

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analog vs digital
Oct 16, 2016 8:48AM PDT

I use Panasonic DECT 6 phone system with 4 handsets in my home. I have a couple other older type phones on inside wire, the standard wall jacks. I do NOT have them connected to a copper wire coming to the house, but optic cable. You seem to still be on copper line, and yes, when I was on such, wet wasp nests, 50 year old cable sheath cut and not sealed back properly which got wet inside after rain, and other such would cause bleed over from one wire to ours and you get those ghosts and other people, because at such times it's working like the very old "party lines" used to. If you have Verizon or Comcast with optical cable at least to the pole, even if you have ONLY copper from pole to the house, then I'd switch over to that service and utilize a VOIP with internet access instead. I personally use MagicJack and have cut my outside copper line to avoid it grounding out my inside wiring, which I also use with a splitter from the MJ device and the other to the Panasonic base.

The new digital phones like the DECT6 have access about 100 feet from the house outside. I tested mine. The older analog cordless phones could provide access a block away! (about 5-7 houses distance, or about 500 feet. DECT means digitally encrypted telephone, so even if someone could access the signal from headset to the base station, they'd not hear anything in clear voice at all.

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That help a lot
Oct 16, 2016 9:04AM PDT

Yes, we have exactly that phone.
And yes we are on a copper wire. No fiber is available. The copper is buried in the mile or so before arriving at our house. It was at the "going underground" portion that the previous stripped wire problem had occurred. At that time, we got the voices but also terrible static (which was excruciating with our dial-up computer connection.) They finally fixed it, and that was two years ago.

Now we get these party-line-type conversations and also calls that come in with a half-ring or a triple-ring, but no caller ID and no connection when you pick up. I'm thinking they are all the same problem. And they are more common when it is raining.

So the phone company said it was our equipment and gave me the not-believable claim that it was just frequency crossover from a house 4 miles away. Hence my questions here to get info that supports forcing them to come out and not risking it being actually my problem so I'd have to pay for the visit.

I do have a wired phone that we use for power outages and I've turned on the ringer for that (I usually keep it silent, it's in a closet) so I can determine if the spurious connections/calls are coming through the copper or not.

I appreciate this information. Anyone else is much appreciated to add on with additional information or additional weight on this to help me feel certain about insisting they come out.

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when you hear it on the DECT phone
Oct 16, 2016 9:31AM PDT

check the standard landline phone. I suspect you will hear it there too. If so, you can be absolutely sure it's the phone company problem with their line. All the phone companies are trying to drag their feet on restoring, fixing, replacing old copper lines. Google Sandy Point and Verizon and find out the fun they've been having since Hurricane Sandy.

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another thought
Oct 18, 2016 10:37AM PDT

Since this sounds rural, is there also a transformer on that same pole? The electro-magnetic interference of such coiled device which changes high voltage to regular home voltage, along with the fluctuations that occur with power usage, not to mention the constant magnetic field emanated by them, can also cause problems with phone lines, especially where the same pole is where the junction box for phones in the area is located.

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Yes there is
Oct 18, 2016 10:55AM PDT

Yes there is a transformer at the pole where the phone line comes up out of the ground. My line splits off and heads to my house, and my neighbors' line goes up the pole and heads to their houses overhead. There are only two more people on the line after me, and then it ends. But wouldn't that be likely to cause static? Or is it capable of causing a crossover to actual voices?

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any wire can act like an antenna
Oct 18, 2016 11:27AM PDT

electro-magnetic fields affect such and a frequency around something like a power transformer can cause the cross over. The most obvious example of such would be a car coil in which the collapse of a magnetic field compresses the electricity so the voltage spikes to fire the spark plug. Of course a transformer will have milder modulation but can create what's called "sympathetic vibrations" from one "antenna" to another. It's called "induction". In fact, that's the most basic understanding of radio broadcast and reception too. All sorts of odd things can happen to wiring near strong electrical fields. Another example is one that's always fun where someone plants long flourescent tubes under high power lines to watch them light up from the electrical field that surrounds such high tension lines. Another problem is water in lines where wires run and some lack of insulation which allows electrical crossover, especially where any electrolytes are in the water, but that typically causes static for the most part, not total crossover of a modulation signal.

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I should note
Oct 16, 2016 9:08AM PDT

I should note that we have not interacted with the other conversations, and I'm not certain they can hear us, but we can hear them quite clearly. Quieter, as I said, but clear enough to just listen if we wanted to.

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For me to listen in on a DECT phone
Oct 16, 2016 9:12AM PDT

Mind you I won't check on hacker boards so the easy hacks are.

1. Take my phone and drop it into the base station. The phone will get paired and coded to their phone system. But here's the issue. When I pick up the phone the models I've seen bleep or show other lines are active.

2. Frankly if there are wires at the side of the house, that's far easier to tap into. Thankfully that's illegal (without a court order) and more.

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Need access into home
Oct 16, 2016 9:18AM PDT

My wire to outside is cut on the inside at the "block" where the wires are, so you'd have no access to anything from outside the home. Yes, the Panasonic DECT6 will show "Conf" for conference when another phone-set goes live.

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Answer
Quick test
Oct 17, 2016 10:09AM PDT

If you have a RS-11 capable wired phone, like an older phone, try this. Go outside to the dropbox(newer boxes) where the phoneline come-in. Locate the modular RS-11 connection where the wires are physically connected, remove current inside modular RS-11, use the phone you have there directly, plug-in RS-11 jack. If problems arise there you have bad lines outside your home. Though, I would re-wire the connection itself and spray WD-40 or similar(dielectric grease) to help protect the wire connection. Notice any corrosion(clean) or opening, try to cork those as best you can to remove outside wet conditions.

Alas, since your telco was fixed before, yes some at the main box, those green trunks you see along road could cause possible "cross-over" there but that's the phone co. issue. Usually, when you call it in, they offer "do you hear noise now?" and since you talking on it, it should be noticeable. Then, they try outside tests to the home and may call a tech to locate issue, but again its their issue to resolve.

As for any cordless phones, yes they pick-up outside RF(other signals), worse if you have a neighbor using similar. Better cordless have re-routing signal match to lessen when one signal is too crowded(noise) and tries another. That all becomes worse as you rely on the direct wired connection as well to get this all going.

Yeah, I live in rural area, but dropped landline and went to "lifeline access cellphone". The cost is hardly nothing as long if you qualify for "lifeline service". You may want to check that out.

tada -----Willy Happy

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Quick Test
Oct 18, 2016 11:02AM PDT

The connection is in my basement, assuming we're talking about the same one. It's where the telco goes when they do work here and try to test anything. I can easily hook something up to that.

The noise/voices is intermittent, so I'll have to wait for a day when it's happening. I did ask the person I was talking to at one point if they could hear the voices, and they could not. (I've started a diary of all this so I can remember the different conditions - will have more data as time goes on.)

Do you have a sense for how far a cordless could pick up such a signal? It just seems so unexpected to have one picking up conversations from thousands of feet away.

Cell phone is not an option, we don't have cell service here. The valley walls are too steep.

At this point I'm very technically curious about how this can happen out here.

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I see we covered why DECT is not being easedropped.
Oct 18, 2016 11:07AM PDT

As to distance, the stock handhelds at best made it to just under 100 feet so 1000 is way out of range.

Do you remember your physics and how power must quadruple to get twice the range?
Maybe science is the answer. Not that folk like that!

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I do remember physics,
Oct 18, 2016 11:19AM PDT

Yeah, that's why I told the telco guy to stuff his theory of my cordless just mixing signals with a neighbor. He got all condescending with me. Grrr. It just wasn't plausible. I would have to work hard to hear my neighbors' conversations, it wouldn't happen by accident. So here I am making sure I wasn't a thousand feet off base. Then I can call them back and insist they come out here, and not charge me for an in-house issue.

Last time, we had the similar issue, although lots more static and less clear voices, it was a splice in the copper a mile up the road at the point the phone cable went underground that was degraded. The tech said the splice was stripped and also unsecure, hence the rainy days or morning with heavy frost melting causing a crossover to another copper line.

I'm assuming it's the same thing again, but Telco wants to convince me it's my cordless interfering with the neighbor 1/4 mile away.

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All this and it sounds like crosstalk on the wires.
Oct 18, 2016 11:36AM PDT

Here's my TL;DR on the thread. "I'm hearing others on my line. Why?"

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tell the tech...
Oct 18, 2016 11:45AM PDT

...it happens on your standard landline phone too. What can he say then?

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