I have worked in telecoms for many years, including time spent with BT and Virgin Media fixing residential telephone faults. I have seen how vitally important it is for the elderly and those with limited mobility and/or sight and hearing impairments to be able to keep in touch with family and friends via the telephone.
Millrose Telecom often receives requests from the elderly to assist with telephone faults. Worried relatives also get in contact asking for help ensuring their loved one’s home has a suitable communication system in place.
There are a few things that I have learnt over the years. If you are of limited mobility, visually or hearing impaired, or have an elderly relative who depends very much on the telephone then here are some pointers for you.
I’m often asked by residential phone customers if their master socket can be moved. This might be because it’s in an awkward place or perhaps because they want the Master Socket in their office to plug the broadband straight in to.
The answer, however, to whether you can move your Master Socket is a simple, “no”. The Master Socket belongs to either your service provider, or in most cases, BT or Openreach (part of BT). Rather like the gas and electricity boards own the meters, the telephone service provider owns the Master Socket. Everything up to and including the Master Socket, all the way from the exchange, along the telegraph wiring and cable to your house, is their responsibility and ownership.
If you do move the Master Socket yourself, for whatever reason, then BT will charge you in the region of £150 to put it right, should a Master Socket fault then occur. The won’t be best pleased either.
However, the Master Socket can also assist you in diagnosing where a phone line fault is, and can test whether the problem is with the extensions, or the main line coming in. So, it’s worth reading on rather than instantly phoning BT to send out an engineer before you’ve done some simple checks of your own.
You can remove the faceplate of the Master Socket (just take out the screws) and this will show you another BT phone socket from which you can plug your phone straight in. You are allowed to do this, and indeed if you phone BT with a fault then they will often ask you to test in this way, before they send an engineer out.
If all works fine by testing from the Master Socket, then the problem is with your extensions or internal wiring. This is your responsibility to sort out and BT will charge a hefty call out fee if they have to come out and rectify it.
If the phone line is dead from the Master Socket, then this is up to BT (or your service provider) to fix – at no cost to you.
If the Master Socket location is an issue, then instead of relocating your Master Socket you can instead add an extension, as the Master Socket allows this. Again, BT (or your service provider) will charge round £150+ for this and you may have to wait some time until they can schedule you in for this.
To improve your broadband performance, you can plug your router directly into the Master Socket instead of into an extension socket. Or, you can plug your router into the Master Socket and connect an ethernet cable (patch cable) from the router to your PC. This will improve your speed and reduce interference from the phone wiring in the house.
Alternatively, you can buy another Master Socket (from all good hardware shops) that has both broadband and phone sockets on the front. You can then cable from the new socket you have just bought, to the Master Socket, which would give you a whole new Master Socket – wherever you wanted it in the house to plug your broadband in to.
If you need any help with telephone extensions, faults and Master Sockets then feel free to get in contact and we’ll be happy to assist (at generally less than half the price service providers would charge!).
It’s almost here! You may have noticed the fibre cabinets appearing in a street near you, finally dragging Cambridgeshire into the 21st Century.
Cambridgeshire will receive a Fibre-To-The-Cabinet service, with copper cabling to your home or business. This will mean speeds of around 80Mb (depending on which package you choose). New build areas in the future may be lucky enough to have fibre all the way to the house, which will give speeds of an eye-popping 300Mb!
There’s a few things you should be aware of though, with the impending arrival of superfast broadband, and how installation may not be as straight forward as you think.
Depending on the package that you opt for with your service provider, you can either install a new modem yourself or an engineer will visit you if you want faster speeds.
Here’s the bad news though – your new fibre optic hub will need to be plugged in directly to your Master Socket. This is the main phone point into your property. This means that you can no longer run your router off extension wiring any more – it must be plugged into the Master Socket. That could cause an issue as you also need two nearby power sockets for the router and often master sockets are inconveniently placed near the front door – which is not ideal if you want to gain optimum speed by plugging your PC or games console directly into the router.
Only BT can move the Master Socket, as it belongs to them, and I suspect they won’t do that for free. However, to get round this, the engineer can run, as part of the “connection fee”, a length of cable that BT call a “data extension kit”. BT will provide up to 30m of this extension cabling in place of your old extension wiring, allowing you to have your hub elsewhere and not by the front door.
If you are installing yourself, you should fit filters to the Master Socket to reduce interference. If an engineer is visiting, they will fit a special faceplate to the Master Socket to help you get the fastest speed.
Installation will normally take an engineer around three hours and you will need to be there while the engineer’s there (to provide access and cups of tea). In return, they will also help set up your PC.
Here’s some things you can you before installation:
1. Your new hub should arrive 2 days before the engineer calls round – consider where you would like this to go and the location of your Master Socket. Are there two power points nearby?
2. Do you want the new hub to be located away from the Master Socket on your existing extension wiring, in which case you will need a Data Extension Kit from the engineer. Consider the route this cabling should take and ensure that you move any furniture, as the engineer will not do this for you (health and safety and all that!). They won’t run any cabling under carpets either, but will instead tack it neatly across the top of skirting boards.
If you have any issues after installation with your wiring or fibre optic connections, then be aware that BT are only responsible for the service from the exchange up to and including the Master Socket. If you have a fault, then you’ll have to pay £129.99 for a visit from BT if the engineer finds that the problem is with:
- Your main socket, due to damage you’ve caused
- Your home wiring beyond the main socket (for example, your phone extensions). This includes damage you’ve caused
- The way you’ve connected up your equipment
- Interference from something else in your home, like your phone, alarm system, or TV.
- The fault is with the BT Home Hub and it’s not in warranty (Hub remains in warranty if you are in a long-term contract)
In which case, give me a bell as I’m much more cost effective and highly experienced with both BT and Virgin Media systems!
For more information about superfast broadband and when you can expect to go live, check out the Connecting Cambridgeshire website
Now, if only we could do something about the pitiful mobile 3G signal round here too, then I would be a very happy bunny indeed.