Digital phone repair instructions

These instructions provide a general overview, in plain talk, on how to test your digital phone line.  The information that follows are steps that a technician might take when he arrives at your home or office, or steps your local service provider might ask you to do before a technician is dispatched.  This is something you can do yourself, maybe save a buck and get your phone back on more quickly.  This general information is free and is an attempt to educate those not familiar with the process and make them more at ease testing their phone line.

Please read all the information before you attempt to test your line.

"Cable Modems", "DSL Modems".  Same product, different type delivery, cable over coax and DSL over copper cable pairs or wires.  As far as the end user is concerned they are basically the same in almost all respects.  They provide us data transmission at an astounding speed and they each require an interface to interact with our telephones and computers.  for simplicity sake, when we talk of cable modems or DSL modems we just call them broadband modems.  I do not attempt to compare the benefits of one versus the other as far as reliability or speed.  I am concerned with the end product and how you use it.  We treat them the same because we connect them the same way. 

Each has different characteristics and we will attempt to give you an overview of what actions to take to get your service back up and running.

I have had digital phone for a little over three years and I am generally satisfied with the service.  I have tried DSL, but due to customer service issues, I have a cable modem.

With digital phone you can talk for less at a set rate and that makes it very appealing.


Fax machines do not normally work with digital phone unless set up specifically for that purpose.


Burglar alarms may not dial out on digital phone.  Why, because they are analog devices and digital phone is, digital.


Credit card machines or other analog devices which use a dial-up modem may not work with digital phone.


Digital phone is perfect for talking only.

I have found that the first signs of trouble with my digital phone were not with the phone service itself.  The first signs of trouble were with my cablevision.  I noticed that some of the channels would not load completely or not at all.  It's like the whole picture was not being received at times.  With DSL the first indications may be with your Internet connection being slow or locking up.  If your phone light on your phone router is "on and steady", your phone should work most of the time.  If your phone light is out, there is a problem.

If your cablevision or DSL is working ok and your digital phone is working ok after the initial installation, then all is well.  Stay alert to any changes in their performance.  If your cablevision or telephone starts acting weird, some channels are acting up, your dial tone comes and goes or the line is noisy,  Go ahead and call your service provider and have the  lines checked.  Don't wait until you have no service at all because it may take them a while to make the repairs.

It is not uncommon to notice a delay when talking on digital phone at times.  This delay will be more noticeable at times.  If you notice it , tell the party you are talking to that you have a delay.  They will notice it to.  This delay does not necessarily mean you have problems with your digital phone,  you just have a problem on that particular call.  If the delay is noticeable on all your calls, then you have a problem and need to contact your service provider for repairs.

To solve the delay, hang up and call back.  If this does not solve the delay,  try saying "over" or "stop" after you make your statement.  I know this sounds old and obsolete, but sometimes when you really need to talk to someone, it may be the best solution.  Anywhere along the transmission route your call  is taking could have a problem and only affecting your call at that time.  When we talk around the world, it takes a few seconds for the transmission to be completed.  This happens on ground lines or conventional phone lines as well.  Many of us have loved ones in the Persian Gulf region and are familiar with this delay.  As good and reliable as our communications network is, it is not perfect. 

If your digital phone suddenly goes out without any notice and your phone light is out, reset he phone router. 

A word about your phone modem or router.  These devices malfunction.  Your phone lights can be on and still not have a dial tone, one line will work the other will not.  Power lights flash quickly.  The only true test is to see if you have dial tone at the modem jack.  There is no one indicator that will tell you that your modem is defective, there are several. 

If you start receiving calls on your out of service transfer number for your digital phone number, or all your calls are going to your voicemail, your digital phone is probably in trouble.  This is also an indication that your local service provider will be aware that you have a problem as soon as they access your account.

Try these steps before you call for repairs.

Unplug the power cable from your cable or DSL modem and your router if you have one, wait 30 seconds and restore power to the cable or DSL modem first and then your router.  This will usually correct the problem.

If the problem persists,  see If there is a reset button on the back of your router, push it to reset the router or modem.  Hold the reset button for 45 seconds.  Use the end of a pencil or paper clip to depress the button.  If the phone light comes on and your phone works, then all is well.  Be patient, it make take up to 3 minutes for your modem to recycle and reset.

If this does not correct the problem, disconnect the cord plugged into the phone port on the phone router and see if the phone light come on.  If not, reset the router by disconnecting power with the phone port empty.  Wait 30 seconds, If the phone light comes on, plug the phone cord back into the phone router.  If the light goes out, you have a problem in your wiring or your phone itself.  Replace the phone or contact your phoneman for wiring repairs if needed.   

Click here to find a phoneman near you.

If the phone light still does not come on, turn on your TV and see if the cable is working ok, or check you DSL broadband connection on your computer.  If your cable or DSL is out, so is your phone when you have digital phone.  Once the trouble is repaired,  your phone should come back up.

If all these measures fail to restore your service, then contact your service provider for additional instructions.

If your modem is defective, be ready to pay for new one if your warranty is expired.  Electronic stores stock  these modems and you can usually purchase your own modem cheaper than getting it thru your local service provider.  You will have to coordinate with your local service provider when you get your new modem installed so they can change the MAC address.  The MAC must be changed before your phone will work.  You will be asked to reset your cable or dsl modem as well as your phone modem and or router.

Cable and DSL services both come over cables that are buried or hung in the air on poles.  They share the same hazards to service such as trees or limbs falling onto the lines, construction, weather, accidents and fire to name a few.  Cable modems operate over cablevision lines or coax and DSL operate over telephone or copper wires.

Cable is usually on one large coax cable.  When this cable is damaged, it affects all the connections  on the cable.  DSL also  comes thru a large cable with one big difference, it uses a pair of wires inside this bigger cable and any faults to this pair of wires will affect only that pair of wires.  You and your neighbor could have DSL service and you could have a problem and your neighbor would not.  More often with cable, you and your neighbor would probably experience the same problems if  the trouble  is in on the street or in the main cable and not inside your office or home.

Again, any changes in the quality of your digital phone service should trigger a response quickly to prevent long interruptions in your service.  It is not unusual to loose digital phone service and resetting the phone router or broadband modem  will usually restore your service and you should become familiar with how to do it.

When wiring repairs becomes necessary, you should contact a qualified technician that has the tools and experience to make the needed repairs.  Keep in mind that you are still using the wiring and jacks that your ground line was using and the same troubles can occur.  Search our database for a phoneman by clicking here.

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Last updated: 06/25/10.