•  A DSL Alternative

    If you have DSL service that shares your primary voice line (that is, DSL and traditional dial tone on the same pair) and the ONLY thing that needs to be connected to the phone company's service is the DSL modem (and maybe one telephone, such as an emergency phone for 911 calls), there is one other possible way to modify your wiring that may be easier, depending on your situation. The idea is to put your DSL modem, plus any phones you want to leave connected to the phone company's service on line two, while leaving your line one wiring intact but disconnected from the phone company's service. If you decide to do this, please note that all of the warnings in the above section on using VoIP as line 2 are applicable here, and if you don't fully understand the procedure described here, please do not proceed. It is recommended that you give some thought to where you will locate your VoIP adapter and your DSL modem, and in particular, that you place them where others in your household (particularly children) will not be easily able to unplug and re-plug wires.

  • There are a few places where DSL is offered as a standalone service on a separate pair (that is, the DSL does not share a pair with traditional local phone service). This is not to be confused with so-called "dry loop" DSL (see the WARNING below), although the services are very similar. That is still very rare, but if that is the case, you don't need to do anything special — once you unplug the line that was used for your traditional voice service at the Network Interface Unit (most likely the plug associated with blue and white/blue pair coming from inside your home), your DSL modem should still be connected (test it to be sure) and the phone jacks in your home should be totally dead (no voltage on the line, and no sound at all if you plug in a phone — again, test the line to make sure it's dead, particularly at the jack where you plan to plug in your VoIP adapter!). Once you've made sure that the inside voice pair is totally disconnected from the phone company's line, you should be able to simply proceed with plugging in your VoIP adapter as described above on this page, and don't forget to tag and tape the plug associated with your voice line pair out at the Network Interface Unit (since it is very likely that at some point a telephone technician will have to get into that box, and you do not want that plug to be re-inserted into the jack!!!). Also see the WARNING below regarding "dry loop" DSL - the same warning applies in this situation.

    On the other hand, most people will have their traditional voice and DSL service coming in on the same pair. Or, you may be converting from voice and DSL on the same pair to DSL only, such as when a phone company begins offering "naked" or "dry" DSL and you drop your existing traditional voice service, but keep your existing DSL service. In either of those cases, here is what you need to do.

    To begin, at the Network Interface Unit, disconnect the line one pair from underneath the screw terminals, and connect the line two pair in its place. That is, remove the solid blue wire, and connect the solid orange wire to that screw terminal instead. Then disconnect the white wire with the blue stripe, and replace it with the white wire with the orange stripe. There's still more to do in the Network Interface Unit, but you'll want to make sure everything else is working before you make any more changes here.

    Alternately, if you don't need line one available at this jack, you could move the pairs inside the phone jack, in a manner similar to what you did at the Network Interface Unit. Just remove the blue and white/blue wires from their screw terminals, and replace them with the orange and white/orange wires (make sure to tape the ends of the disconnected line one pair, so it can't short against anything inside the jack!).

    If all goes well, you should have freed up line one for your VoIP service (but don't connect your VoIP adapter quite yet!), while providing a connection to your DSL modem using line two. You can repeat this at any jacks where you want to connect a phone to the phone company's dial tone (not applicable if you have "naked" or "dry" DSL and no traditional voice service).

    To test your rewiring, plug in a phone (if you still have phone company dial tone) and listen to see if it works, or just plug in your DSL modem. If it doesn't work, try to trace your inside wiring from the point where it enters your house to the jack you are trying to use, and make sure that if you find any splices, that line two is properly spliced (some installers will only splice line one, and leave line two disconnected).

    Before you connect your VoIP adapter, there are some loose ends you need to take care of — literally! Back in the Network Interface Unit, look at the line one wires you disconnected — if there was more than one wire under each screw (that is, more than one phone cable from inside the home connected to the Network Interface Unit), then you will need to splice those wires together, preferably using approved communications connectors (see the paragraph on using these connectors near the top of this page). If you don't do this, some jacks in your home may not work. You will need to splice all the blue wires together (along with any red wires from the older "quad" wiring), and then splice all the white wires with a blue stripe together (along with any green wires from the older "quad" wiring). But, if there was only one pair (only one wire under each screw coming from inside the house), then all you need to do is to either tape or clip off the bare copper ends, so they cannot touch anything metallic inside the Network Interface Unit.

    Remember to test your phone jacks (the ones you did not modify) with a phone (and, preferably, also a voltmeter, especially if you have discontinued your traditional voice service) to make sure you don't hear anything at all and that there is no voltage on line one. If that is true, you should be able to connect the output of your VoIP adapter to any "line one" jack (make sure you don't get line one and line two mixed up!), to put your VoIP service on "line one." Also, if you are using the line one and line two breakout adapter mentioned above (or two phone jacks at the same location, each connected to different pairs), be extremely careful not to plug your VoIP adapter into the wrong jack! In this situation we strongly recommend that you locate your VoIP adapter and DSL modem in a location not readily accessible to others in your household, especially children who might be tempted to mess with the wiring.

    WARNING: Some telephone companies are now offering "dry loop" DSL - this is DSL provided on a line that supposedly has no dial tone. Even in this case, you should NEVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES connect your VoIP adapter to a pair that is also connected to the telephone company's wiring. The reason is that even "dry loop" DSL may have "wetting voltage" on the line (voltage to avoid problems at cable splice points) and in some cases the phone companies actually do provide dial tone, which can be used to call 911 or the telephone company (in case you, or a future user of your line, wants to order additional service). Even if there is no dial tone or significant voltage on the line today, that does NOT guarantee that there never will be. Furthermore, when you connect a VoIP adapter to any type of outdoor wiring, you expose it to potential damage from lightning and other transient voltages. So, even if you do NOT measure any significant voltage on the line, NEVER connect your VoIP adapter to a pair that is simultaneously connected to the telephone company's wiring. Please remember that if you ever plug your VoIP adapter into a jack with telephone company line voltage present, you will very likely destroy your VoIP adapter! So, check and double check that there is no voltage present before you connect the VoIP adapter to the line, and that the line is totally disconnected from the telephone company's wiring!!!