Re: Can You Help ID This Problem: Caller Speaks up; Nothing But Noise


> We have 8 landlines in an office in San Diego. Local & Long distance > services are from AT&T. All the lines are connected to a phone system > (TalkSwitch, to be more specific) I tested all the lines and > extensions one by one, calling from my cell phone with no > problem. AT&T also tested from their end and saw no problems what so > ever. > Here is the annoying problem: Once in every 9-10 calls, caller's voice > is so bad we cannot understand anything. The line itself sound very > clear, but caller's voice is all staticy. Sounds like a radio that is > little out-of-frequency. No static/humming on the line itself, but > it's the voice that is terrible. When we tell them to call us back > again, and if they do, there is no problem at all (even if the > receiving line and extensions were exactly the same as before) > This suggests either phone system is bad/configured wrong and acting > randomly, or long distance calls have problems. I don't know if this > question sounds stupid but, is it possible to have such a bad > connection because of some switch/circuit that is available for that > particular call between point A and point B (like recalling the ISP to > get the next available modem to eliminate the bad modem)

My knowledge is limited about phones and I am expected to troublshoot

> this, but I don't know exactly where to start. I also have some > settings on the phone box that can be set for the lines (600 ohms, 600 > complex, 900 ohms, 900 complex -- set to 900 complex by itself -- not > sure what it is). > Thanks in advance. > [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Your problem, that of intermittent > noise, is a very difficult one to diagnose, but here is a starting > point, based on a real-life experience of mine from thirty or thirty > five years ago. I would make calls wherever, late at night, and every > second or third call I made, this god-awful noise and rattling sound > came back at me right after I dialed the seven digits but before the > call had set up. Not _every_ time, but 'only' every second or third > call attempt. No set pattern, and all I could do was abandon the > call and dial again. Bell never could figure it out (nor did they > try very hard, IMO) but I finally got to speak with a tech in the > local Bell office one day. His question to me was, don't you have two > lines there? I said I did, so his response to that was, the next > time this happens, do me a favor; keep that line 'up', put it on > hold and use your other line to call me at (a direct number to reach > him in the frames). It happend again (admittedly I tried to make it > happen) and when that terrible noise started, I lifted the plunger > on my phone (I had one of the old two-line/life the plunger/twist > the turn button style phones) and called this technician direct as > he had asked. Good, he said, now stay put a minute, I am going to > trace your line here in the office. When he came back with the > report about five minutes later, it really surprised me. He said > there was a bad line 'selector' between the office where I was > located, and the office I was attempting to call. He continued > saying the 'bad' equipment was the 'first choice' in a group of > several trunks running from the one office to the other one. He > further said that during the daytime hours, only quite rarely would > someone land on the first selector (the one which was in trouble), > they would get the same noisy conditions, hang up in disgust and > dial again. But in the middle of the day -- the busy hours -- the > troubled first selection trunk was having repeated seizures by > various subscribers; no one ever managed to land on it twice in a > row; no way to pin it down. When the subscriber dialed a second > time, naturally their call would hunt right past the troubled > selector (which had then been seized by some other subscriber) so > of course their call went through normally. > But, he said, you, Mr. Townson, insist on making your calls during > the off hours, very late at night, time and again you are going to > land on that first selected trunk line, and get the trouble over and > over. I have 'busied it out' at my end, now _no one_ is going to > land on that line, until it gets fixed. Sure enough, that was the > end of my troubles. Keep the above in mind, please. > Now you talked about modems and your 'phone box'. Is there any order > or organization in which your inbound calls arrive, sort of like a > 'first selected trunk', etc? Load up all your incoming lines with > calls, somehow isolate the line with the noise and investigate that > line completely. Try to detirmine if the trouble is at your end or > if it is arriving from AT&T on one of their incoming lines. If you are > able to isolate the disturbance _on your own equipment_ using this > method, then do whatever you need to do. If you find that the trouble > continues even when your own equipment is out of the way on that line, > then the problem goes to AT&T. But be prepared to have the troubled > line 'up' or in use when you notify AT&T about it, so they can zero > in on the trouble. > Yes, I know you shouldn't have to go to that much trouble, of > isolating the specific line, etc, but you know most telco repair > guys are _not_ going to do anything about it otherwise. And anyway, > it may well turn out to be your 'privately owned equipment' in > trouble, so you may as well eliminate all that so Bell has no > excuses for fixing the trouble it it turns out to be their problem. PAT]

You may have a bad circuit in the CO, it may only be hit a times when the others are busy, it may have nothing to do directly with your line. You have to get to a tester, not the people handling the incoming repair calls. Are the calls coming from the same person or same calling office, then it could be a trunk circuit between offices.

We had a problem where we could not call one number in an office and they kept closing the ticket with no trouble found, that is until I got a tester who understood me, I'm retired telephone company, within a short time they found that it was a single translation in the switch and fixed it. You have to get to a person within the company who knows the trunking, not just some of the computer geeks that they have now.

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[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: But Steve, basically you told him the same thing as I, but with more work involved for him. Whenever there is any complexity to the problem at all, telco is _always_ going to pass the buck. It helps a lot if the subscriber can put his finger directly on the trouble when requesting repair service. PAT]
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Steven Lichter
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