Condo telecom problem: Who is responsible for disconnecting a landline wire?

I recently moved into a condo, and contracted with Comcast for VoIP telephone service. The service was installed and works properly over a single phone, but is not distributed throughout the condo. This means that I can’t use extension phones and can’t get my number displayed on the building intercom.

The problem is well described in this article: The previous owner had landline service, and when he moved out, his phone company (probably AT&T, but I don’t know) didn’t disconnect the landline wires from the junction box.

So, the wire needs to be disconnected. But, who is responsible?

Comcast threw up their hands and said I should call the property manager. The property manager has been non-responsive and confused and doesn’t seem anxious to accept ownership of the problem. I haven’t even tried to contact AT&T, as I have no relationship with them and can’t even be sure they’re the previous incumbent carrier.

I’d like to get huffy and demand service. But, I don’t know whom I should demand it from.

I was hoping that somebody with telecom or property management experience could straighten me out–who is responsible for fixing things in the condo junction box?

Since the line is dead, I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t simply connect the 2 or 4 wires from your VOIP ethernet adapter to the contact points in the junction.

You would get something like this -

It has a nice RJ11 housing and 4 wires that can connect to the contacts in the junction. This is the old fashioned style so you will probably need something a little different, but it is the same idea.

Just go to Radio Shack and describe the kind of junction you have. Tell them you need something that has an RJ11 socket on one end and 4 wires on the other that can plug into the contacts in the junction.

Then all you have to do is run some RJ11 cable from the ethernet adapter you’re probably using for your VOIP service to the socket you installed in or near the junction.

Now, when you plug any phone into any outlet, you should be able to get service. If you want, you can even install a splitter into the RJ11 jack of the ethernet adapter so you can have one outlet for the phone you use now and another for the cable that will go to the junction.

I would advise disconnecting the ATT wires that go from the junction, outside the house, and to the street. Leaving them connected could allow someone to tap into your line from outside. It might also degrade your signal.

However the easiest thing to do, although not the cheapest, is to get a set of 3 or 4 wireless phones at some big box store like Costco. I like the Panasonic products myself. They have incredible range and let you put the extension phones anywhere you like.

I am not sure why it would be anybody’s problem but your own. You want to make a modification to your home wiring. It isn’t exactly “borken”, it just isn’t the way that you would like it. Do you know where the junction box is? It is pretty simple to do the disconnect, especially if it has a RJ-11 jack in there.

I am a little confused about why you can’t get your number on the intercom. It would seem like it either just calls your phone number, in which case the lack of extensions should be irrelevent, or it somehow rings your phone directly, in which case disconnecting the landline wouldn’t help.

Connections from the outside to the junction box are most likely the responsibility of the Telcom. In your case, getting any Telcom to accept this looks to be challenging.

If the wires truly need to be disconnected (as the linked article suggests) the practical answer is that a tolerably competent person with access to the junction box could probably do this in a matter of minutes (depending on how well connections are labeled).

You imply this access is not under your control, and I can easily image that condo management folks will take a “It’s not my responsibility” approach. Perhaps you can obtain access when no one is looking, or by means of a sixpack of beer (or similar).

Because equipment left behind by a different phone company is interfering with my service.

No, I don’t.

In other words, it’s broken. Equipment from a phone company with whom I do not do business is interfering with my service.

No, and even if I did, the junction box is common property in a condo, under the control of the association and the party whom they hired as property manager. The association would no doubt take an extremely dim view of me doing freelance maintenace work, and would fine my ass from here to China if I were to mess up the phone service of other building residents while trying to fix my own.

put a ninja suit on, go to the junction box, and yank a bunch of wires out. then wait for the repair guy and ask him to do it. maybe slip him a tenner.

ETA: I forgot to add, take off the ninja suit before you approach the repair man. they can be touchy about dealing with ninjas.

I won’t swear to it, but I think there should be a distribution point inside your house/condo/etc. That’s not always the case though. My old apartment was as you describe with a junction box in the basement for the whole building. I guess once the wires came in through the wall, they were split off to go to different rooms.

But there’s no reason you can’t do the same thing. Find where the wire comes in, cut it, strip the 4 wires - which are very thin so you have to be careful. Then hook the wires up to something like I linked to in my previous post. Stuff the wire coming in back into the wall and use the interior wire. That should feed all of the outlets in your house. Then you just run the RJ11 cable from the new outlet you just created to the VOIP ethernet adapter.

Never mind.

As always check out the forums at DSLReports.Com (they cover all kinds of regular phone, cable TV, Dish and other such things as well). They actually have forums with people who work for various telcos.

If you don’t want to mess with it yourself there are tons of people and businesses that do telephone installs and wiring and VOIP stuff, and could fix your problem relatively easily. Since you’ve stepped away from the existing voice line POTS that was installed to a somewhat a different technology it really is kinda, sorta your responsibility to pay for any interface adjustments.

Per your link in most houses or condos there is usually a land line interface box in or near your condo somewhere that serves your individual condo. It’s usually in a closet or utility room in your condo or in a plastic housing box immediately exterior to your unit.

I know little about VOIP, but assuming you are not accessing the 2/4 wire interface beyond the wiring inside your unit, and your calls are made via the Comcast broadband network connection, I’m not really seeing how you are going to get in unit intercom service as I’m pretty sure the intercom functionality would require a standard 2 or 4 wire connection to the junction box which is obviated by the VOIP setup. There may be some adapter to do this.

Putting the intercom aside, at this point the responsibility is really (IMO) still largely Comcasts to install your VOIP in a functional manner that serves all phone outlets in your condo. I’ve dealt with Comcast for many, many years and Comcast techs are wildly variable in their skill level. Some are barely capable, others are technological Ninja masters. Before getting a private tech I’d call Comcast back and explain you need a a very skilled tech to set you up. There is usually one of these available they can access and call for you.

Just to reiterate: the installing Telco did not complete their installation, if your household jacks are still connected to AT&T (or whomever).

AT&T (or whomever) will not disconnect your Interface from the land line. Doing so, would remove your access (via them) to your county’s E911 service. There is no way in hell any company would want the liability of knowingly removing your ability to call 911 in an emergency.

There is only one such box in my condo, which serves the entire condo.

Alas, after further lengthy discussion with Comcast, including consultation with a supervisor, it turns out the Comcast installer was correctly following Comcast policy. They regard it as “unethical” to disconnect a competitor’s line, even when it’s inactive and interferes with their service.

The installer went off the beam, however, in referring me to my property manager. The property manager controls access to the junction box, but isn’t a telecom installer and won’t mess with the connections with a fifty-foot pole.

So it comes down to AT&T. They’ve agreed to come out on Saturday and rip out their line.

The bastards here, methinks, are AT&T. This is a legacy of their monopoly days, when if Customer A moved out and dropped service then of course Customer B would move in in a few weeks and use AT&T. They would save time and money by leaving the connection in place.

Except now they have competition, and their crap interferes with other companies’ service. And this has cost me hours and hours of time. Bastards.