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#28216 - 08/14/03 02:16 AM Cheap telephone junk!
pauluk Offline

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
How many of you who do telephone wiring as well as power are finding problems caused by some of the cheap imported junk that's hung onto telephone lines these days?

I've had some bad experiences with the Betacom series, which is sold cheaply in the U.K. In particular, the CTT500 model is being sold in several places, and is a phone with built-in directory and caller ID display.

The first problem I found with one of these had me scratching my head for a while. I was testing another phone on the same line, and occasionally found that I couldn't release the line when hanging up. I put it down to a faulty hook switch at first, then found that the line didn't release when I disconnected the phone at the jack. Bad wiring in the house? Nope, it all checked out O.K.

Eventually, I traced it to this Betacom trash which would sometimes just seize the line for no apparent reason. I only noticed it because I happened to see the Betacom's "line in use" LED come on when it shouldn't have done.

Another apparent design problem with this model is that a momentary battery loss on the line sometimes results in it clearing long enough to drop the connection. The equipment here tends to give such a momentary loss of battery when switching to busy tone, so about half the time you dial a busy number on one of these phones you get dropped back to dial tone.

Cheap nasty junk!

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#28217 - 08/14/03 08:55 AM Re: Cheap telephone junk!
SvenNYC Offline

Registered: 08/19/02
Posts: 1685
Loc: New York City
You should see the quality of most of the phones sold on the street here in New York City. You pick one up and it feels like it's about to crack between your fingers. But when they're only asking US$10 for it...what do you expect?

And then to top it off are the telephone receptacles currently being sold in hardware stores and "dollar stores" all over the place.

They're mostly made with of thin plastic, with terminals essentially consisting of a steel sheet metal screw that bites into holes drilled into a plastic "block".

The little jack where you insert the modular plug is made out of two parts of plastic Super-Glued together. One wrong move and it will come apart. Sometimes the contacts inside the jack don't have enough spring-action, resulting in a very noisy connection.

Contrast this to the jacks made by the old Western Electric company - made out of solid, sturdy plastic blocks and enclosures. Things that were made to last 40 years or more, possibly.

#28218 - 08/14/03 12:34 PM Re: Cheap telephone junk!
ThinkGood Offline

Registered: 08/07/02
Posts: 1084
Loc: Milwaukee, WI
I remember the old AT&T commercials, after the breakup of the Bell System:

Second class phones, they're found in second class homes...
Phones that break and phones you throw away...

The old "Western Electric" phones had real, gen-u-ine components--capacitors, resistors, etc. They are still available from a number of sources. They are excellent for eliminating a lot of RFI problems. Trouble is, they don't have any of the more modern features such as redial, one-button speed dialing, etc. (If that's the only worry one has in life...)

#28219 - 08/15/03 02:14 PM Re: Cheap telephone junk!
pauluk Offline

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
I have several old Bell System (Western Electric) 500 sets around my house, and 2500 (TouchTone) set next to me on my desk. The latter is a later model, and somewhat lighter than the 1960s models, but still quite substantial compared to today's cheap throwaway stuff.

Our old GPO phones in Britain were also very well made, designed to last almost indefinitely and be easy to drop in replacement parts should the need ever arise.

#28220 - 08/16/03 11:07 AM Re: Cheap telephone junk!
classicsat Offline

Registered: 11/23/02
Posts: 449
There is the line of Nortel phones made in
the 1980s and 90s. They are not so bad, and they are often sold re-conditioned for $20 or so.

#28221 - 08/17/03 03:35 AM Re: Cheap telephone junk!
pauluk Offline

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
I should have added that this particular Betacom model carries a BABT sticker, meaning that it has been tested and approved for use on the British network.

Like many other certifications, however, that only guarantees safety and non-interference with other users. It doesn't include quality, or in this case even the ability to hear a busy tone!


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