Incoming phone line

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330d330d Forumite
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In my new house I have two phone wall sockets right next to each other. The builder has tested them and both are active.

Strangely I only have phone wire coming in. So it appears the main wire is coming into the room and is connected to the first socket. And then this socket is connected to the second one.

Any idea why this has been done?
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  • edited 5 October at 9:16PM
    Neil_JonesNeil_Jones Forumite
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    edited 5 October at 9:16PM
    Probably an extension.  Unscrew the bottom panel from one of them and see if the other goes off.  If so, its treated as an extension probably to plug two phone connections in for some reason (alarm maybe?) ion the one line nstead of a splitter.
  • Uxb1Uxb1 Forumite
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    A standard BT incoming overhead black cable has usually two twisted pair lines in it.
    Usually this makes it easier if one pair goes dud to switch to the other pair in the cable without having to put in a new cable back to the nearby pole.

    It also makes it possible to have two separate lines running in the same cable to serve two different numbers in the house - all from one incoming cable.
    Usually in the past this was done for a phone line and a fax line or as mentioned above as a separate monitored alarm system which auto dials out on the alarm number.

    So maybe at one time there were two master sockets next to each other with two different numbers and the second one has now been converted to an extension socket when the second incoming number was removed.
  • 330d330d Forumite
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    Thanks for the replies.

    I'm going to open both sockets today and see what's going on. Also will test them first.

    But if both work, I am tempted to remove the 2nd socket as I don't have a need 
  • FarwayFarway Forumite
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    330d said:
    Thanks for the replies.

    I'm going to open both sockets today and see what's going on. Also will test them first.

    But if both work, I am tempted to remove the 2nd socket as I don't have a need 
    Sod's law dictates you'll have a need twelve months after you remove it :)

  • jamesdjamesd Forumite
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    Are you sure that you want to be tampering with BT/OpenReach equipment, that second socket's wall plate and related wiring? The usual demarcation between what you own and what they own is the backplate of the socket, with the front plate and what comes from it being your own internal wiring and your property and responsibility. The risk here is that if you mess it up and break your line, you get to pay them a couple of hundred Pounds to fix their equipment that you broke.

    So before you touch it, best to at least post pictures of the wiring inside that can be used to check and verify the type of connection, since a plain extension would normally be your own equipment that you can touch.


  • J_BJ_B Forumite
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    Can you plug in a phone?
    Dial 17070 and in the options somewhere gives you the actual number assigned to that line.
    That *may* tell you if they are the same or different.
  • SandtreeSandtree Forumite
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    jamesd said:
    Are you sure that you want to be tampering with BT/OpenReach equipment, that second socket's wall plate and related wiring? The usual demarcation between what you own and what they own is the backplate of the socket, with the front plate and what comes from it being your own internal wiring and your property and responsibility. The risk here is that if you mess it up and break your line, you get to pay them a couple of hundred Pounds to fix their equipment that you broke.

    So before you touch it, best to at least post pictures of the wiring inside that can be used to check and verify the type of connection, since a plain extension would normally be your own equipment that you can touch.


    Even BT/Openreach will tell you to remove the initial cover from a master socket to reveal the direct connection socket beneath when troubleshooting 

    As to why there are two sockets? So two devices can be plugged in. Could be a previous owner had a cordless phone and fax machine or like my aunt in the 90s a cordless and corded phone as she didnt trust the cordless phone whereas my uncle "needed" it so he could go out to the garage to check stock etc if a customer called
  • jamesdjamesd Forumite
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    I expect that every provider would tell you to remove the front cover - your side of the installation - to get access to the test port  on the BT/OpenReach side so things can be checked without possible faults in your internal wiring being a factor. I did it myself not so long ago when a fault at the cabinet broke my own connection.

    Yes, it's probably a second line for either voice or fax, maybe past home office use. But how that's wired and how easy it is to pick the right wires to disconnect can vary quite a bit, from trivial with modern stuff well done - flip a "switch" and pull out a pair of wires - to less so. If it's done directly with a pair from the original four then its backplate is going to be BT/OpenReach property and the opportunity to screw up part of your line.
  • 330d330d Forumite
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    To update this thread, I plugged a phone in and there was no dial tone. 17070 didn't work. Also plugged into the test socket and nothing. This was for both sockets. 

    I then removed the front panel to see the wiring and interestingly the incoming cable splits and some wires go into one socket and some into the other.

    Any idea what's going on?
  • edited 13 October at 11:47PM
    jamesdjamesd Forumite
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    edited 13 October at 11:47PM
    To me it looks as though the upper box is connected directly with one of the two pairs coming directly from the pole to your property, then the other pair is running to the bottom box that would be the natural main one. That'd make both backplates BT/OpenReach property.

    Best to wait for an experienced phone engineer to comment.

    If in a great hurry you could gently pry out the wires from each of the three connections on the top and wrap electrical tape around the bare wires with the number on the tape. Then feed them into the bottom one to get them securely out of the way and not shorted. But that would leave the black cable exposed. And tampering with what looks like BT/OpenReach equipment, that upper backplate.

    The overall neatest way, if you don't mind tampering with the BT/OpenReach side, is to do something like buying a BT/OpenReach master socket NTE5c MK2 and VDSL/ADSL faceplate MK4 for £10.75 or less. Then you could fit the backplate to the upper location and hide the wire very neatly, with all five wires connected there. This is the latest socket set used in new installations, sometimes without the separate network socket faceplate, and it's very easy to work with. The faceplate has a pre-filtered internet connection socket so you don't need to use filters on the phone part throughout your home. However, making any changes to the backplate is BT/OpenReach property and not legal. Unlikely to be noticed unless you screw up, but still not legal. Getting a private phone engineer to do the switch around is also not legal but you won't end up with a screwed up line and it's unlikely that anyone noticing will know or care about the history. Not impossible, just unlikely. I doubt it'd take as much as half an hour to do all the work for an experienced phone person so it should be very cheap.
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