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landline voice quality advice

assynt
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Registered: ‎12-12-2017

landline voice quality advice

Before I raise a ticket or go through security hoops to talk to plusnet help, I thought I should ask here first.

Some time back (recent years) not decades, my memory is unreliable, we upgraded to a FTTB service, which runs fine and well, especailly given our distance to the green box. We get 50GB/s, which is pretty good, although Vodaphone keep trying to shove a 'guaranteed' 60+ down our throats.

None of that is the issue, other than the bodged wiring that took place when we went over to this service. We have had a couple of problems more recently, which have all been fixed apart from the apalling voice quality on the landline.

I believe this is down to Openreach rushing the installation, which included having to replace the master box in the living room, which was not conveniently near the point the outside cable arrived. To accomodate the fact that at that point we had an extension to upstairs landline boxes, they used spare wires in the existing cable to get the landline back out to that point.

Sorry, this is a developing into bit of a novel. Ever since the above the voice quality is very poor, sounds heavily compressed. I have done all the usual test with the test socket and wired phone and there are no external issues. Voice qualit is slightly better in this configuration. Normally we make calls to most folk using the mobiles, which is fine but the increasigly almost totally deaf in-laws don't handle their very basic mobile svery well and prefer their landline. We have been unable to persuade them (one of whom is in the early stages of dementia), to try harder. They are well in the 80s and resit all change even more than I do. We have to use the landline almost exclusively for them.

The question is how to instigate a fix even if Openreach insist on charging because they won't accept responsibility or because time has passed. Realising the wiring was likley to be the cause I fed appropriate cable around the ground floor with the intention of doing it myself but stopped when I realised that I would have to cut OR seals. I am not entirely without appropriate skills. Now it is an serious issue, especially during lockdown and while I am working from home, I would rather pay but would also rather avoid that if possible.

 

Any advice would be gratefully received.

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Baldrick1
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Re: landline voice quality advice

@assynt 

If I get this right the BT line comes into your property at the first floor and is then extended using spare cores in your internal extension cables to the downstairs master socket? Presumably your router is located here? Have you tried the voice quality test with the wired phone plugged into the test socket on its own with no filter in circuit? Does the filter affect the quality? Have you got a filtered master socket? If so you should not be using any filters on the extension sockets. Is the distortion worse on the upstairs sockets?

You could get Openreach to move the master socket, I think that the cost is £160. You could insist that the job is done correctly.

Thinking of the Wheel Tapper's Hammer story, you have tried a different phone?

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assynt
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Re: landline voice quality advice

@Baldrick1 

Thanks for getting back to me.

Yes, you are esentially right. I look at the other way round. The point on the exteranl wall in the hall, where outside cables meet inside, is behind an 'extension' socket. Outside is joined with OR seals to the original cable taking the signal to the other room and spare cores take it back to the extension socket. Upstairs sockets are plugged in to this.

Forgot that particular change happened when all the telegraph poles and overhead cables were renewed in the lane, maybe eight/nine years ago?

Something else happened when the service was upgraded more recently for FTTB and the OR engineer installed the new master socket and an OR modem (no longer needed after router upgrade). This is when the voice quality went downhill.

I plugged our emergency wired unit into the test socket where it slightly better and there are no other filters anywhere else. The last straw came this week when we replaced our old Panasonic wireless kit for a Siemens that gets plaudits for sound quality and it was worse.

We need the master socket to stay where it is because this is where the internal ethernet switch lives and I am not doing anymore drilling and carpet, floorboard lifting cable routing for that.

I suppose the question now is, how do I instigate an Openreach visit to fix a problem (whether or not caused by them) vis Plusnet without complicating it by making it a braodband issue, which it isn't? Especially when I am working from home and don't want a prolonged period off line.

The area is swarming with OR engineers laying miles of fibre at the moment as FTTP is coming by next summer (21) apparently, which might change everything. Having said that, we are near mutiple new developments but down a lane that I am not confident will get that service. Our exchange was only upgraded to its current state less than ten year ago when we still had 0.5kb/s. On the edge of one of the UK's biggest towns in the Thams Valley and always last.

CJT-80
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Re: landline voice quality advice

@assynt 

Just to help you out, and make things easier to understand do you have Fibre to the Cabinet? (IE the line into the property is copper?) If you do that's FTTC, it's better to call it that to avoid confusion with Fibre to the Premises (fibre goes all the way to the property) which is called FTTP.

 

Have you got a second phone to try?  Have you dialled 17070 and performed a Quiet Line Test?

Kind Regards,

CJT
assynt
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Re: landline voice quality advice

@CJT-80 

Yes, FTTC (I keep calling it Fibre To The Box, sorry). FTTP is coming for this area next year, as I said.

Yes, about the phone, I plugged it into the test socket and ,as I said, it gave slightly better results but I didn't try the wireless equipment there, which woud might have been informative. I also did the quiet line test and believe, with my 'golden ears' that  I could detect a slight distant hum, maybe.

Either way, we clearly have a problem with the internal wiring and/or perhaps the filter in the master socket and maybe with the external line too, in a way that doesn't affect the broadband unless I should be getting faster than 50gigs, half a mile from the green box.

Thanks for replying.

 

Baldrick1
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Re: landline voice quality advice

@assynt 

So your modem/router for your FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) modem/router is located in the upstairs Master socket? Why on earth didn't Openreach put the Master Socket downstairs? Did you ask for it to be installed upstairs? If so (s)he was probably trying to help you with this bodge to get you on line and save you the cost of a proper master socket move so maybe you shouldn't think too harshly of the perpetrator.

Is your new wireless phone base unit installed downstairs in the extension socket? One thing to try is to expose the Test socket and plug a filter in here, one would have been sent to you with the modem/router. Use this to connect it to your router and phone base unit, which you will need to take upstairs. If this works then we will know that the problem is probably being caused by Openreach using cores in your extension cable. If your new wireless phone works downstairs then consider leaving it in this configuration.

Otherwise if you Google it you might find a local ex telecoms engineer who will do the change for you or simply(!) ring Plusnet and ask for the master socket to be moved.

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assynt
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Re: landline voice quality advice

@ Baldrick1

No, I have been rambling a bit but I never said the master socket was upstairs. It is farther from the front of the house and, from an OR 'engineer's' point of view, 'too far', apparently, as I recall. Principally because he couldn't be bothered and wanted to do it all by the front door.

The afore-mentioned elderly in-laws had a similar problem when their decrepit old line was replaced and the OR engineer ignored that fact that all their extensions ran off the original master socket in their hall. He installed their new master socket in their lounge, which was the nearest point to the incoming cable. They had to have a third-party engineer in to relink the new to the old so that their old wired phones, and their emergency call system, would carry on working.

In any case, the wireless system, in ours, is plugged into the master socket (downstairs living rorom), spare cores take the line back to the socket by the front door, into which is plugged an extension line that goes through the ceilng to further daisy-chained wall sockets upstairs, which have, for now, become redundant. Their only relevance to the current issue is that the only reason the OR engineer used those spare cores was to accomodate this historical fact.

I have considered a local ex-telecoms engineer but worry about those OR seals because I don't want to risk any degradation in broadband quality or other consequences.

I am happy to pay Openreach, reluctantly, but don't want to go round in circles trying to get the specific audio quality issue solved without dragging it out and worsening the problem because, as I have read, about similar problems, they come to fix the wrong problem.  I don't want to be without a connection to the truely old folk or my connection to work for more than a minimum number of hours, or minutes with a real engineer.

 

 

Owain_2
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Re: landline voice quality advice

The OR 'seals' are probably just jelly crimps to extend the cable.

Really it would make sense to put the NTE 'master socket' as near as possible to the incoming line. The newer filtered faceplates that go on the front of the NTE have extension terminals for both unfiltered (DSL) and filtered (voice) extensions, so you can run separate pairs to your extension phone sockets, and to your broadband router if that has to be distant from the NTE.

However I don't think this sounds like a wiring fault. Poor internal wiring could cause hum, crackle or interference, but the symptoms of 'over-compressed' voice quality or 'burbling' sound more like a faulty line card in the exchange.

 

198kHz
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Re: landline voice quality advice


@Owain_2 wrote:

However I don't think this sounds like a wiring fault. Poor internal wiring could cause hum, crackle or interference, but the symptoms of 'over-compressed' voice quality or 'burbling' sound more like a faulty line card in the exchange.


Agreed.

The symptoms as reported can be ascribed 95% to the phone instrument or system, or a transmission problem in the digital network. In my experience the former is more likely.

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assynt
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Re: landline voice quality advice

@198kHz  & @Owain_2 

 

Thank you for looking at this.

I doubt the issue is with the instument unless I am really unlucky. I have the same symptoms on a very basic wired device, an older wireless system and a straight out of the box replacement kit.

I guess I need to report this as a fault with Plusnet but desparately need to avoid the risk of no line and/or broadband for an excessive period. This I suppose was my original question, how do I report this for a reliable Openreach response that might minimise problems, whatever the cause?

 

 

Baldrick1
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Re: landline voice quality advice

@assynt 

Considering the way that your internal wiring has been bodged I can only assume that the master socket was originally installed in the hall and the bodge was introduced to relocate it to your lounge. 

If you are to keep your master socket in your lounge OR should remove the incoming cable from what is now the extension, join that to a new cable and run that through your house to the lounge. As others have said, there is a good chance that this will not make any difference to voice quality but you will never know unless you try or BT check out the exchange equipment.

To get the house wiring modified you need to ask Plusnet for a Master Socket move. That should be unambiguous as far as getting the correct skills on site.

In terms of getting the exchange equipment looked at, that might be more problematic as you first need to convince Plusnet et al that you have a phone fault. All you can do is report it and see what response you get then probably argue.

 

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Owain_2
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Re: landline voice quality advice

You can only report it as poor voice quality tested at the NTE.

What Openreach or BTWholesale can obviously do is test voice quality at the Distribution Frame in the exchange, taking the physical line completely out of circuit briefly. This will determine whether it's an exchange fault or a line fault. Exchange fault - they replace or move you to another line card. Voice downtime maybe an hour or two.  Line fault - Openreach'll probably then test at the PCP ('green box') to see whether any fault is E-side (to the exchange) or D-side (towards you).

assynt
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Re: landline voice quality advice

@Owain_2 Thank for your guidance and to the other helpful folk above.

 

I will bite the bullet next week when our network heavy weekend's shenaigans are over and post the results here in case it helps anybody else.

assynt
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Re: landline voice quality advice

@Baldrick1 Thank you.

I saw

@Owain_2 's answer first and replied with my bold new plan. I'll let you know what happens.

 

assynt
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Re: landline voice quality advice

To all who come here in the future, please ignore all references to 'GB/s' or 'gigs', we are not defying the laws of physics in this neck of the woods. I meant Mbs or megs, of course Embarrassed