Do I have a physical phone line?

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Alpha_5Alpha_5 Forumite
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Hi all,

My house is approx 20 years old and we've have Virgin, but I'm looking to switch to Sky. As far as I'm aware, the previous owners also used Telewest/Virgin.

The problem I have is that I'm not sure if a BT line has ever been installed and as I have a block-paved drive, running a new line isn't really feasible (there are no telegraph poles in the street so I'm assuming BT's cables are underground)

After checking the house plans, it looks as though there should be a master socket in the lounge, however all we have there is a smaller box that seems to be an extension of from an old Telewest socket in the hallway.

There is however what appears to be a master socket in our bedroom though - if that's the case, does it mean that a physical line will have already been installed into the property, or could it be awaiting a physical connection to BT's cables in the street?

Is there anyway of testing the bedroom socket to see if it's connected to a physical line?

Thanks in advance for your help and advice!

Replies

  • edited 30 January 2016 at 3:38PM
    ChiefGrasscutterChiefGrasscutter Forumite
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    edited 30 January 2016 at 3:38PM
    Not really on testing - only a live line will give a dial tone.

    It is quite likely that the cabling exists from the house master socket to the nearest distribution point (DP) After that........
    As you say it looks all underground, the DP will be the nearby BT underground joint chamber.
    After that it goes back to the local distribution box/cabinet and then the line would have gone back to the exchange in some large multi-pair cable.

    The chances are very high (as in near 100%) as it has not been used for ages that somewhere in that path from the DP to the exchange the cable pair to your house has been removed and used to service or repair another line.
    It might be OK back to the cabinet or it might be only OK back to the distribution point.

    Any sign of where the incoming cable goes back out of the master socket or just it just disappear into the wall? you might see a sign of a BT grey duct somewhere on the outside of the house coming up from the ground with a black round cable inside it.

    Edit: BT do the testing by putting an oscillator/tone generator on the house end of the cable and then go to the DP and find the right pair in the "mess" inside with an instrument that detects the oscillations....then work back towards the exchange.
  • edited 30 January 2016 at 4:30PM
    iniltousiniltous Forumite
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    edited 30 January 2016 at 4:30PM
    If there are no telegraph poles then you are correct to assume it will be an underground feed, if the property is 20 years old it's probable that there was at some point an underground BT lead in, but the previous owner or possibly the cable company installer (telewest or whoever) at the time,cut off the BT feed (they should never do that but they frequently did to make moving back a problem)
    If your neighbours houses are of a similar style you could ask around who has a BT line or company that uses BT lines and see where their lead in comes into their house, if yours exists it will be in a similar place.
    If it's an underground feed the master wouldn't be upstairs , it's normally where the external cable enters the property at ground floor level.
    Another possible way would be to look on the outside of the house facing the footpath where BT joint boxes are located, a gray capping/cover (capping 25,cover 101a) on the outside wall with the BT symbol, would be where the duct from the jointbox comes up against the external wall and the master socket would normally be directly behind that on the internal wall , property's of that age would have the duct on the outside and a cover and capping on the wall, the underground cable entering from there
    If the BT socket was effectively removed by the cable company years before obviously getting Sky or anyone else to provider service may be a problem, the chances are you would get an appointment but when Openreach or a contractor working for them turn up, they would probably leave soon after saying they will get the planners involved and that could end up with excess charges, even if it were not you that removed OR's kit
  • Alpha_5Alpha_5 Forumite
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    Thanks for your reply.

    After further investigation the socket in the bedroom, it turns out not to be a master socket - I took the face plate off and there !!!!!! all inside, except a cable that leads to god knows where. It says "this socket is owned by you, not BT".

    This leads me back to the house plans which show a master socket should have been installed in the lounge. I'm assuming that because the previous occupants had Telewest/Virgin that the BT line was never fed inside the house.

    There's no grey box on any of the outside walls to indicate where a line could be entering the property.

    Assuming the line is therefore underground outside the lounge wall, waiting to be installed into the house, unfortunately a porch now stands on top of it.

    I think I am going to have to admit defeat on this one.
  • AndyPKAndyPK Forumite
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    i'm sure you should be able to put your post code into the BT site and see what it says
  • Alpha_5Alpha_5 Forumite
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    I'm probably clutching at straws here, but is thete any chance the BT line could be in a green conduit?

    Theres a piece of conduit sticking out of the ground on the the outside of the opposite lounge wall. It was getting dark when I spotted it and couldn't see down it to see if there was anything inside.

    I know green is normally Virgin, but the Virgin cable just comes straight out of some gravel and feeds into the brown omnibox right next to this piece of conduit.
  • edited 30 January 2016 at 8:48PM
    iniltousiniltous Forumite
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    edited 30 January 2016 at 8:48PM
    There was a period of time when some developers locked out BT and did an exclusive deal with the local cable company, before the roads and footpaths were adopted by the local council, the only service the homeowner could get in those situations was the cable company ( BT would never have got away with anything like that)
    When the council adopt the roads and footpaths BT has the right to put services in, this can be 2 or 3 years after the developer has moved on and BT can sometimes retro fit with poles because it's cheaper, (obviously not in your case), if they retro fit with duct then it's probably as and when people apply and they may have to pay more than a standard install fee (the difference between what duct costs compared the what overhead costs ) that may well put people off so they just stay with the cable company.
    BT don't install like cable where they duct upto the boundary and dig in a cable between the footpath and house wall, BT duct all the way from the jointbox to the house wall and this (obviously) needs the householders permission
    Do your neighbours have BT type service or are they all with the cable company ?, Are there any BT joint boxes in the footpaths or are they all marked as CCTV or whatever the name of the cable company was before Virgin Media ?
    If you 'google' capping 25 you will get an idea of what the standard BT entry looked like at the time, if you can see those on houses in the same area it's fair to say BT was available from the start , and the most likely situation is your feed was on a wall that is now part of your porch, the builder of the porch likely said to the householder what do you want to do with this BT feed ?, and they said just lose it under the paving (or something like) because they would never consider using BT.
    You are correct again about the green duct being cable company duct and BT won't be in there, BT duct is grey,and I bet it's somewhere under your garden or block paving
  • macmanmacman Forumite
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    It's perfectly possible to lift and relay block paving, although you might need to relay it yourself to get a decent finish, compared to what OR will do.
    No free lunch, and no free laptop ;)
  • Alpha_5Alpha_5 Forumite
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    Had a wander today and other houses on the estate do has the grey capping 25, so looks certain BT did do the groundwork on the estate.

    If I was to lift some of the block paving by the porch, how deep would the BT line likely be? Would it be located within conduit?
  • iniltousiniltous Forumite
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    Alpha_5 wrote: »
    Had a wander today and other houses on the estate do has the grey capping 25, so looks certain BT did do the groundwork on the estate.

    If I was to lift some of the block paving by the porch, how deep would the BT line likely be? Would it be located within conduit?

    BT will have paid the builder /developer to build the footpath boxes and install ducts between the boxes and from the boxes to the individual houses, they would have been given a specification to follow, but , they normally would do the minimum they could get away with, I think the depth of cover was supposed to be 300mm in soft ground , so it's unlikely to be any deeper than that, but even if you did a little excavation to expose the duct you would still need OR, as the cable inside the duct may be cut short (so needing to be replaced to the foot way box) and a new entry made into your house,
    If you use Sky , they would probably be told by OR , after a failed installation, what the extra costs for this work would be (on top of the standard install) , they would ask you if you are prepared to pay the excess , and if you were, a job would be issued to do the necessary work...even small jobs like this may be a couple of hundred ££'s
    If you were lucky, they may use the same procedure used when the cable is in place , just faulty, but if they flag it as deliberate damage , even though it wasn't you who caused it, they would normally charge extra
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