US and European (ANSI/ETSI) Phones and Fax Machines

What are the differences in phones sold in these markets? How specifications for telephone instruments (for landline POTS) differ? Do they have different impedance?

Similarly are there differences in fax machines sold in two regions?

- Neeraj

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Usually the connectors are different, as are some of the progress noises, but my experience from a few years ago was that a US modem would work in UK, DE, and NL, with the proper connector. If you can find tip and ring, as fax machine should work as well; after all they have to communicate internationally.

Somebody remarked that it might not be legal, but BT gave me a US/UK adapter pigtail when I visited their labs, even though it was their rule. In NL, the hotel supplied an adapter for the purpose. An RJ11 plug seems to be the common denominator for adapters, which just have the right plugs and sort out the wires. A lot of UK hotels used to break off the tabs to prevent unplugging the phone, but I kept a paper clip to do that and wire strippers and tape just in case. I never had to go that far.

I have been told some systems ring to ground instead of bridged ringing, but I never needed to take incoming calls to foreign equipment, so it wasn't an issue. There at least used to be US systems that rang from one side or the other to ground, but they were mostly party lines, and I don't think modern equipment is designed to cater for them. An older phone can be opened and the ringer moved to the proper connection.

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