Sunday, September 18, 2011

Switch land-line phone service

AT&T was providing our land-line telephone service. It was about $20 a month after the base service plus taxes and fees. But then they raised the base cost by $2 a month in January, and then another $3 a month in August, which put the total monthly cost to more than $30.

Time Warner Cable provides our cable TV service and our internet service. We can throw the telephone service to them too, and get their "triple bundle". The triple bundle would provide both land-line phone service and long-distance. Normally we pay little for long-distance, about $5 to $10 a month, but with the higher cost of the AT&T service, it becomes cost effective to switch to Time Warner.

And now that AT&T has dug up the back yard and repaired our land-line connection, we at least know that it is possible to switch back and have working service.

So we made the move. In theory, our phone number is "portable", and we can continue using it. According to Time Warner, all we needed to do was switch out our previous internet cable modem with a new cable modem that also provided phone service and then wait for the magic to happen that would switch our service.

Originally our service was to switch over on 13 September, but that came and went with no apparent change -- picking up our phones still gave us a dial tone from AT&T. When I called, they said there were "technical" difficulties and the switch would happen on 15 September or no later than noon on the 16th.

Nothing seemed to happen on the 15th, but on the morning of the 16th, our phones were all dead -- no dial tone. To check, I plugged a phone into the Time Warner cable modem, but got no dial tone there either.

Waiting until after noon, I then called Time Warner. It took all afternoon to get the phones working. First they thought it was a problem with the modem, so I
took the old "new" modem back to the service center and swapped it for a new "new" modem. No change. Then there were issues with their data base, and several fields and "codes" that had to be changed. Around 5:00 pm, they got the phones working. It took over an hour of cell-phone minutes to make this happen.

Once the modem provided phone service, it was fairly easy to plug that into a nearby phone outlet, which takes the signal upstairs to our phone switch board. I could then run it to the distribution bars and then back down to the active phones downstairs.

Two problems developed. First, the phone line cords that connect phone equipment -- the kind with two RJ-14 clips on the end -- reverse the red/green wires. That reverses the polarity of the signal and causes problems with some telephone equipment.

The other problem was that one of the connectors was shorting out internally. By taking it apart and adjusting the position of the internal wiring, I was able to get it working correctly.

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