How To Test For Source of Low Volume on Phone Lines?

We are having terrible problems in a new office with certain outgoing and
incoming calls having extremely low volume, so low that you can only catch
maybe one of every three words the other party says. The phone system we
use worked fine at a previous office, so we suspect that this is a phone
line issue and not in the phone system hardware. Various tests suggest
that the problem is not with internal wiring, but probably with one or more
of the outgoing trunk lines. We have four separate trunks that any
incoming or outgoing call may go through. We had the phone company come
out and test the lines, but they insist they are good.
How can I measure line quality in an objective way? I would want to
measure voltage or some concept that would give me a good objective
measurement of how strong and how clear the signal is at the point our phone
system connects to the trunk. If I could do the measurements directly to
the trunk lines then we could isolate exactly which ones are causing the
Another question is who do you call for such a problem? Our techs who do
internal wiring don't seem to be electrically minded, and simply don't have
equipment that can do good line quality measurements. The company that
sold the phone system can barely do Windows administration and simple phone
system installation tasks. They simply aren't technical enough to solve
this problem at the low level I think it needs to be debugged.
Any advice on how to proceed here is appreciated. I live on the phone at
work and it's killing us.
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I wouldn't yet narrow the focus down with such statements as "tests suggest that the problem is not with internal wiring", nor is it significant that there was no problem "at a previous office", whatever that means. (It just indicates that if you fix the problem, it will work right at the new location too!)
You need to do _definitive_ testing, not make assumptions.
This is the right idea. First, concentrate on that "some concept" part of it! Randomly measuring circuit parameters just isn't going to find an intermittent problem. What you need to do is find a way to determine *where* you want parameters measured. With only 4 trunks, this isn't really difficult, *if* you have the right people and equipment. Somebody has to understand the particular system you have, and know how to find their way around in it.
There are some fairly simple things you can do though. What you want to do is find a common denominator for when the poor connections happen. For example, does it happen every 4th call? You already mentioned that it happens on both incoming and outgoing calls. Does it happen when it is the 2nd call? Things like that.
You might also do something like set up four incoming calls all at once, and verify that all of them are good. That way you know it isn't just one bad trunk that you are hitting randomly.
The idea is to find a way to reproduce the problem at will. Then you can start thinking about tracing the connection and measuring parameters on the circuits involved in a methodical way that will pinpoint where it is defective at.
But you'll need a techie type to do that.
Hmmm... obviously you don't see a lot of promise there! If that description is even half way accurate, none of those folks are going to be able to trouble shoot your problem in anything close to an efficient way.
Send me an airplane ticket and pay for the hotel room. I'll buy my own food, etc., and the hourly rate will be minimum wage...
Or, probably a little cheaper, would be to find someone closer to your location that does technical telecom consulting. I can't imagine a little system with 4 trunks is going to be very hard to trouble shoot for someone with 1) the right background, 2) the right documentation, and 3) the right test equipment. But if any one of those is missing, it could take forever.
Reply to
Floyd L. Davidson
We strung brand new RJ-11 directly from the phone to the phone system, bypassing the internal wiring entirely, and the problem still exists.
The internal wiring may *also* have problems, but it is clear by that one experiment alone that there are problems beyond just the internal wiring.
It is significant because in a new phone system installation one should probably first inspect the phone system settings. To the extent that the phone system worked at the old location and immediately stopped working well (low volume) at the new location, it just seemed like something outside the phone system might be the place to focus on first.
A major problem for us is that the phone system has elaborate and quite low level control over all kinds of electric and telephony concepts on both the trunk lines and the extensions. The phone system installer obviously had no mastery of the concepts, and we do not either. We called the manufacturer Altigen and frankly they keep pushing you off to their dealers.
I agree with that. But one must start someplace, and I'm simply trying to use some logic to prioritize what gets tested first.
We use Altigen, and we are near San Jose, California. Can you recommend anyone who has the right equipment and knows the phone system?
What kind of equipment did you have in mind? I wouldn't mind investing in good line testing equipment.. We already have continuity testers for the internal wiring.
Where does one find such a person? What section of the phone book would you look in?
By the way, send me your resume anyway. I might get to that point. :)
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My suggestion would be to get set up with a test set or analog phone on your lines at the demarc so that any line can be accessed at the same time the phone system is using the line. Then make and receive calls on the phone system until you get one with poor quality. Note which line you are on, and access it with the analog phone. Keep the call going with the analog phone and hang up the call on the system and see if the quality improves or remains the same.
Take care, Rich
God bless the USA
Reply to
Rich Piehl
Surely someone has a butt set and can test the lines at the demark. Make several calls out on each line, if they are all clear, then its your equipment or wiring. BTW , RJ-11 is a jack and not wiring.
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Start by identifying WHICH of your 4 lines the problem occurs on. Do your phones have individual buttone for each of the lines? Are they the same across all phones? If so, log which line has the problem, when, incoming or outgoing, who is being called, which extension is being used. Some pattern will show up.
If you don't have individual line buttons, but rather make your calls by dialing 9 and then the outbound number, do you have a display to indicate which "trunk" you are calling on? Again, if so, log your results and look for a pattern.
If you determine that the problem only happens on line 3 (for example), swap line 3 and line 2 at the control unit and see if the problem moves from line 3 to 2, and if so you have pinpointed the telco as the problem. If the problem remains on line 3, then you have a problem with the control unit.
Good luck!
Reply to
Touch Tone Tommy
We had this problem at an installation. We instructed the client to log the bad calls showing the date, time, extension, and outgoing trunk (each CO line had an appearance on the sets.) We immediately saw a pattern -- all the bad calls involved CO line 6. When we went to the phone closet, we found that the alarm people came in and hardwired (instead of the usual RJ-31X) a defective alarm line interrupter onto line 6.
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"CHANGE USERNAME TO westes" wrote in message news:
I read some other followups , all with good info, but they didn't say one important thing. Just because the telco says the lines are good, doesn't mean they should not be looked at for problems. The telco (in my case, SBC), the left hand don't know what the right hand's doing.
Last week the users had a Xerox document station that could send, but couldn't receive faxes. The sent a field tech out (you know, team xerox!) and he put his $4.98 test phone on the line and it could call out but it didn't ring. So he called our helpdesk to get one of us to check it out.
Well, I got there and tried it with my buttset and it wouldn't ring either. So I knew what the problem was, the pair gain equipment had a bad card in it for that line. The card couldn't send out enough ringer current to do the job.
We called it in, and the telco guy showed up a few hours later. He put his buttset on he line at the MPOE and I called him on my cellphone. He got the BRRRRRP when it rang, but no tinkle. He was puzzled, cause dial tone was okay. He was going to tell me that there was nothing wrong, but I explained to him what I thought the problem was, and he decided to check it out further. So he called his boss and had him call the number back. See, he didn't trust my cell phone call, he wanted a real landline call (as if that would make any difference!). When the same thing happened, BRRRRP but, as I pointed out, no real tinkle ring on his buttset, he began to believe there was a problem with the line. I believe if I hadn't insisted that there was a problem with the pair gain equipment, he would have tried to convince me that there really was not a problem, and walked away. From his perspective, he had no experience with that problem and had doubts that it was a telco line problem, since it's very rare that the central office can deliver dial tone but can't deliver ringer current.
So he got back to us later, and said he had cut the pair to a good pair, and that he'd fixed the problem. But there's a good chance that if I had not had experience with this kind of problem, he would have tried to convince me that the problem was with my equipment, not the telco's.
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Watson A.Name - "Watt Sun, th
Those alarm compoanies can be a real pain in the butt. Last week I had to disconnect one analog line at the MPOE, and when I walked back into the room, that damn alarm console on the wall was beeping, and displaying "check phone line 2" or somethimng like that. Bitch. So okay, I went back out after awhile and reconnected the line, so it would SHUT UP! Sheesh! :-S
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Watson A.Name - "Watt Sun, th
How interesting. Yes, many of the techs on tier one don't know all that much beyond the basic copper pair coming from the CO. Sometimes if a customer has done their own troubleshooting they'll actually take the time to listen and fix it right the first time.
It really is a shame that the ILEC's are retiring off the guys who actually know what they're doing. We'll have to live with sub-par service for a few years until the new batch of field people learn all the things that can go wrong.
In your case - you now have a slightly more educated service tech. Other customers, were they to know your perseverance in the matter would thank you for it if they only knew you challenged ILED SOP and won.
Reply to
Tony P.
Yeah, its a real pisser when a piece of alarm hardware that needs dial tone to notify the authorities that a fire is burning in the building and everyone is dead of smoke inhalation gets pissy about being deprived of said dial tone. You should have just hit "Command-4" to silence the beeper.
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