How to Belle Your Phone Line for DSL
… or in most cases, how to un-Bell your phone line.
I’m a fan of TekSavvy – and hence DSL for my Internet connection. Poor internal phone wiring can affect the speed of your Internet, and since the CRTC ruled that Bell must provide higher connection speeds to independent ISPs, but isn’t, I really try to squeeze the best connection that I can out of my phone lines. Also, the Bell install is an eyesore, and looks shoddy at best.
This isn’t the worst install that I’ve seen, by far, so hopefully someone else will find this information useful.
You’ll notice the phone lines are hanging off of our power conduit from the street. Not cool. I installed a proper 3/4″ plywood panel that is anchored to the concrete (by a 2″x4″ frame) to use as the base for my re-installation. I’m also planning on running my CAT6a for the rest of my house back here, but that’s later on down the road.
The first thing that was changed was the NID on the exterior of the house. It is the part that hooks my house’s wiring into Bell’s wiring. Originally I had a screw-post style NID. This style needs the insulation of the wire stripped back, and has the wire screwed down. Newer NIDs use insulation displacement connectors. This is a superior connection. My NID was replaced by the Bell technician. You’ll need to ask nicely for them to change it.
From there, I replaced their telephone cable from the NID to the inside of the house with outdoor rated CAT5e, which should provide a cleaner signal. I noted which port in the NID the old pair was occupying. From there, I disconnected the old wire, and stripped back the outer jacket of the CAT5 by about an inch and a half.
To prepare to pull the cable through, I twisted each available wire from the old line to a wire in my new CAT5 line, trimmed any left over cable, and then wrapped the joint in tuck tape. The tuck tape is thin, but man! that stuff has great tack. After that, it was simply a matter of feeding the CAT5 and the old line through all the exterior cable ties so it would pull through smoothly, and not get snagged. I pulled the cable mostly through the wall, and then reconnected the blue/white pair back to the previously occupied port in the NID, carefully fed the slack through the exterior cable ties, and then pulled it in the rest of the way to remove the slack.
Once the cable was inside, I secured it to the floor joists in the basement ceiling with a cable stapler, being careful not to pinch the cable, and also avoiding running the cable parallel to power lines. I brought the cable over to my panel.
Here is where the fun begins. I connected the blue/white pair (the one connected at the NID) to a Comtest NID-02. These are ADSL2+ certified filters that use IDCs, and as you can see from the picture, provide a very clean, and easy to understand install. The NID-02 has screw holes so you can mount it like I did. TekSavvy sells these, just ask them for a POTS splitter. I might have preferred Comtest’s CPE-01, because it has the modem jack built right in, allowing even fewer connections – but it has a screw terminal for the incoming/outgoing wires, and I think the IDC connector is a more clean install.
From here, I connect to a dedicated jack for the modem – I borrowed Bell’s demarc :). This is a screw connector, but I’ll likely switch it over to a keystone. The house is connected to a Leviton IDC block. The block is wired as a bus, so I can add new runs without difficulty. It is a little overkill at this stage, but I won’t have to worry about it again. Adding new runs are as easy as punching them down in the next available spot on the block, and it will accommodate up to 4 lines (although most of the house is only wired for two).
All in all, I’m pretty happy with the results. I know I’ve got the best DSL connection I can get now. I’ll be good for ADSL2+ when Bell finally capitulates to the CRTC order and allows independent ISPs to access the same speeds as Sympatico customers. Until we start building municipal fibre to the home, I will likely be using DSL technology.
(If I had been thinking ahead, I would have posted my before & after stats, but unfortunately I can only provide my after stats.)