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Question: How do I activate all of my phone jacks using VoIP, like Comcast CDV, Vonage, Lingo, Other VoIP providers?
This is a step by step tutorial to get you on the right track!
*NOTE* Make sure you read everything starting at the top. You must have a clear understanding of everything so you don't get stuck. There are hints on what to do if something happens in sections of this site that might not direct to your situation. Take your time and read the entire article before making any decisions or actions. Most of all, be responsible!
Now I know this isn't really computer related but I worked as a senior Technician for Comcast and thought I would be able to share some ideas on what I have done while I was working with them for (2) years + on Residential High Speed Internet, Cable, and CDV Comcast Digital Voice phone service. I have also done some work with their older (ISU) phone service. This service has an actual box attached to the back of your home with flashing green lights when the units enclosure has been breached or opened up.
Now you may have just purchased a VoIP service to cut your cost down on your monthly bill with the Telephone company, or perhaps because of long distance or other various reasons like service availability, or you are just sick of normal land line prices for your area. You may have performed the installation yourself, or called a Service Technician to come into your home and perform the installation for you.
I know when I worked for Comcast, residents who lived in a apartment or condo units were unable to have all of their jacks activated after VoIP was installed. This is not necessarily because we are lazy and did not want too, but because we do not have access to your junction box that contains your phone lines. To my previous knowledge in older units, these lines were installed by the local Telephone Company. However, I have received reports that this is not necessarily true in all case's. I have been told that the lines have been put in by the Electricians of the building, and in some cases where the buildings were built before the 1980's, that they could have been put in by 'Bell' before the initial break up in 1982.
While doing my work in the field I have noticed that the telephone junction box's were always locked. I assumed that the only people who had access to the key was the local phone company or the local providers for land line service in their area. This may in fact even be true. However, I have received reports that the actual landlords or apartment owners are the ones who have this key. This may depend from state to state or from different geographical locations. You will want to consult with the land lord and your local land line provider in your area if you need access to this junction box.
Understanding what a NID box is, and why it's important in telephone jack activation or back feeding VoIP signal/dial tone.
*NOTE* Take a look in the bottom left corner of the picture. You will see a wire coming up from out of the ground. This wire is known as a underground drop that was installed by the local phone company.
*NOTE* It has been reported by someone who works for a large local phone company that a NID Box should NEVER be left open for a extended period of time. The box should always remain secured and tightly screwed back into place if opened. Failure to do so can result in damage to your NID Box and who wants to have to worry about paying for a new one because yours is damaged due to a poor decision not to keep it shut?
What are those wires inside?
There are (2) pairs of smaller wiring also know as 'Twisting Pairs' in standard phone wiring and (5) pairs in Cat-5. Each pair is able send and receive analog or digital voice. You will have a Positive and Negative or a Outgoing and Incoming per Twisting Pair. Red or Blue usually corresponds to the positive. You can actually mix blue and red together and get the same results. The same thing goes for Blue/White and Green, which would correspond to be the negative.
The reason some phone wiring in your home will be Blue and Blue/White and some might be Red/Green is because phone companies and electricians are now using a cable called Cat-3 or Cat-5. A poster earlier said that phone companies do not run these wires. This is not necessarily true because throughout the years additional jacks may be installed by your phone company.
Example: You ordered DSL back in 2003 and you had the Technician install two additional jacks for your DSL router.
While most of it would have been installed by a electrician/building contractor or the previous residents of the home.
Cat5 and Cat3
The newer stuff (Cat-5/3) costs the same as the old stuff, so now you will see more Cat-5/3 cabling used for residential and commercial phone systems now a days. If you have an unused Cat-5 Jack in your room, you can actually tie it into your phone system and use it as a phone instead. You would only use Blue/Blue-white to do this for one phone line. Technically, you can use any colors you want as long as they all match up with the color codes currently running in the home. Copper is copper after all right?
What else is to the NID box?
1.) An Ariel drop or wire from the telephone pole to your house and attaches inside this box. This drop usually runs though the air in your backyard or side of your home.
2.) Same thing with the exception the drop or cable runs from the pedestal underground and comes up into your NID box. *You can see an actual example in the lower left corner of the picture shown above.*
This signal is then pushed or inserted into the NID Box and then travels down to the pairs of wiring that run to each jack inside your home. If you would picture a spider web effect with each corner being a phone jack and a direct line inserted to the center of the web. It would feed and deliver signal to all of these jacks connected to this spider web. This is a general idea on how things work from the pole to the jack you plug your phone into inside your residence.
Removing the local phone companies dial tone and interference from your phone system
Just because you don't have a dial tone from your old phone company, doesn't mean that the plug in your NID box is to not be un-plugged!!!!
Alternative method of land line service dial tone removal
1.) Open the NID box and lose red and green screw of the line you want to disconnect.
*If you have multiple lines hooked up to more than (2) screws you may want to read this entire article before moving further with these instructions*
2.) Take all of the little wires that were previously tightened into the red screw and twist them together where the insulation is stripped. After all of the wires are twisted together only where the copper of these little wires are showing then place a peice of electrical tape around where the copper is showing. This will result in all the wires connected together and disconnected from the binding posts.
3.) Repeat the same instructions listed in [Step 2] for the green screw wires as well.
Below is a simple diagram of what a a set of Binding Posts look like inside a NID Box.
What a Installing Technician might do at your residence
First thing the Technician will do, is hook up or run a Coaxial cable line to a Arris, Motorola or other type of modem that various types of VoIP services use. Some of them won't use this method and will get you a signal from the Internet instead. Where the signal comes from and how it gets to the modem is not a big deal in regards to back feeding your home and all of your phone jacks. The Technician will run some software or call dispatch in some shape or form to have your new modem provisioned, and to port your new or existing phone number to the modem. Once everything has been synced up and ported you should now be able to plug a telephone into the back of the modem and start making phone calls at this point.
Back feeding all of your telephone jacks with VoIP dial tone 
1.) You have a alarm, or alarm that is not compatible with the service. (False excuse in most case's)
Whatever the reason, most of the time you can still activate all of your phone jacks if you want to spend the time to get things done right. All I can do is explain how to do these things and how they are done. If you don't use your head, and your not willing to try new ideas, stop reading and go hire someone who cares and wants your money. If your in the metro Detroit area, contact me. (Waves and Smiles)
The instructions on how to back feed or activate all of your phone jacks with VoIP phone service
If you are in a apartment, search for the area for your junction in the basement or outside in a pedestal. You will only want to cut the little wires that connects to your binding posts. Removing any outside signal that could interrupt your modem once it's plugged into your phone jack's. You may have to use a toner to find your lines if they are not labeled. Do not cut the main drop feeding the entire pedestal. Otherwise, you will disconnect land line service to your entire building. Use common sense here and you should be Okay.
Step 3. *Residents will alarms that dispatch help over the phone line only*
Step 3 A *Residents will alarms that dispatch help over the phone line only*
Step 3 B *Residents will alarms that dispatch help over the phone line only*
Step 3 C *Residents will alarms that dispatch help over the phone line only*
If you don't understand this process, call your alarm company and ask to speak to an advanced Technician. They should be happy to assist you in how your exact alarm should be configured with VoIP. Explain to them that you have everything setup and your requesting what actions you should take inside their outlet box inside the alarm system.
You should now have the following scenario:
Non alarm VoIP users can continue their instructions here as well.
Strip and insert the red wire so a little bit of copper is showing on your primary twisted pair. Do the same for the green wire. If you are using Cat-5 cable insert blue where red used to be and Blue/White where green or black used to be. The old drop or old wire you removed from your alarm box can be taped up and hidden out of site as it remains inactive for this installation.
Assuming you are near your modem with your phone line in one hand, and a standard telephone fitting in the other, you will want to put a fitting on your new telephone cable you just ran to your modem. Only use the primary pair on your new cable which will be Blue/Blue-White or Red/Green. Now you are going to insert this pair into the center of the standard telephone fitting. There are (4) slots to put this pair into. You will insert it so the tip or bouncy prong of the fitting is facing down or towards the floor with copper prongs towards your face and use the middle 2 slots out of the (4) total with the positive in the left center slot, and negative on the right center slot. If the very left slot inside the fitting was slot 1, you would insert the little positive wire of your primary twisted pair which is Red or Blue in slot (2) and negative which is Green or BlueWhite into slot (3). This leaves slots 1 and 4 empty on the fitting. Make sure the wires are tightly jammed up into their correct slots and crimped down good. Then go ahead and insert your new fitting into your VoIP modem. You should be good to go!
Comments and concerns can be addressed in the comments section of this page. I am sure there are some things I have left out or forgot to mention because there can be so many issues when trying to do this, so feel free to post your comments, questions, pictures, ideas or whatever!
NOTE: Things and color codes of wiring can be different per residence. The best thing you can do is ask if you want to be sure. You can do this in the comments section below without registering. I check all of my questions and blogs posted on this site daily if not every other day.
Article last revised on: 07/22/2008