ADSL speed slow and no dial tone

We stopped by a customer’s home recently who was complaining that their ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) broadband connection was slow and unreliable. When visiting webpages, they would receive a time-out message. They also complained that they intermittently had no dial-tone when picking up the telephone handset. This also resulted in people who were calling the customer would still hear a normal ringing tone, but the customer’s telephone would not ring.

Normally, we would have immediately referred the customer to their local telephone company’s technical support number. However, since we were in the area, we thought we’d drop by just to help make sure that the fault was not caused by the customer’s equipment. More and more often these days, the telephone company will levy a high call-out fee if the fault is caused by the customer’s equipment or home wiring.

When we arrived at the customer’s home we discovered that indeed there was no dial-tone. The first thing that we did was make sure that all of the other telephones in the house were “onhook” or hungup. tried was to disconnect all of the telephone equpment that was plugged in to the multiple telephone outlets around the home. This included the ADSL filters as they can be responsible for causing no connection or a noisy line. The filters are used to prevent the ADSL data signal being heard in the telephone earpiece as well as preventing the telephone from causing interference to the ADSL signal.

We finally plugged a wired telephone into the main home outlet and could stil not hear a dial-tone or even any noise. We tried a spare ADSL filter and this didn’t make any difference. We therefore concluded that the problem did not lie in the house but between the outside junction box and the exchange. There a can be a few intermediary  points along the path back to the exchange. If you do have a dial-tone but a slow ADSL connection, then a “quick and dirty” method to test the integrity of your telepone line, is to pick up the handset and press one of the buttons on your phone. When you do this, the dial-tone will be cleared and then you can listen to see if you can hear any pops; clicks or other static sounding noise on the line.

Noise on the line will affect both the voice and ADSL data signals. Noise can also be caused by water getting into a connection somewhere but in this case, you will most definately have no ADSL signal as the water will cause a short circuit between the pair of wires that carry the voice and ADSL data signals.

The customer called the telephone company who sent out a repair technician the next day. The technican found out that one of the wires had come adrift in the road cabinet outside in the street. After resplicing this wire, normal telephone and ADSL service was restored to the customer.

The problem with no dial tone can also occur if your telephone line has been deprovisioned (turned off) at the telephone company by mistake but we have found that this to be a rare occurance.

Telephone voice signals and ADSL data signals are sent to and from your home over a single a pair of wires. These wires are called the “Tip” and “Ring” wires. To conduct a telephone voice conversation, both of these wires need to be properly connected at all of the junction points between your telephone and all the way through to your local telephone company exchange. The integrity of the connections must be 100%. If one wire is not connected properly, then there will be no dial-tone when the handset is picked up or you will hear a crackling sound in the earpiece when you lift the handset or are talking to someone. An ironic thing about the less robust ADSL data signal is that it will work over only one wire, albeit not at 100%.e. In this instance, the ADSL connection will also exhibit a slow-down resulting in such things as webpage time-outs or a loss of syncronisation between the modem and the DSLAM (Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexer) equipment in the exchange. This will result in the Internet connection light changing to red on your ADSL modem.

Our last piece of advice is that when your broadband connection is working properly, go to a broadband speed testing website such as Speedtest and do several speed tests during the day in order to establish a benchmark which you can compare down the road to show you if you are suffering from any broadband speed problems.