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Thread: Cordless landline telephones and building materials

  1. #1
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    Cordless landline telephones and building materials

    Several years ago I tried to replace my current analogue cordless land line handset with a new digital cordless one, but it would not work.

    I was told that was because the building materials used in the construction of my tower block interfered with the signal between the base unit and the handset, and only analogue cordless phones would work. I had to return the phone and ended up buying a new battery for my current, ancient analogue cordless telephone.

    The questions are:
    1. Has anyone else ever heard of this issue regarding digital cordless landline telephones?
    2. If so, has digital cordless phone technology improved to get around that problem so that they will work in any building where the may be metal used in its construction?


    Before anyone asks, yes I do have a mobile (cell) phone which I use most of the time, but I still need to run a landline as certain people do not want to call me on my mobile???

  2. #2
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    I hadn't heard of that. I assume it's because analogue signals are more tolerant of signal degradation. Have you looked into adding a signal booster between the base station and the farthest part of your home?

    Grant Hutchison

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    Grant

    I live in a one bedroom flat /apartment so it is not that big. The total floor space is equivalent to some people's living rooms in certain large houses.

    A signal booster would not be the solution as my place is small, I suspect.

  4. #4
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    Technically, the furthers part of my flat would well be in range of the base unit, were it any other construction other than that of a tower block, built in the 1960's

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    Hmm, what kind of construction would do that? Alumin(i)um wall studs forming some sort of Faraday cage?
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    What ever it is,, when I last tried one, I don't think the handset even worked in the same room as the base unit.

    I am not familiar with UK building codes for high rise tower blocks in the 1960's, so am not sure, I am just going by what i was told back then, and wondered before I made any test purchase if the technology has changed in recent years or if I am completely stuck as it can never be solved.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sticks View Post
    I was told that was because the building materials used in the construction of my tower block interfered with the signal between the base unit and the handset, and only analogue cordless phones would work.
    Was the person who said this an authority on telecommunications? - or perhaps someone who only knew empirically that digital phones don't work near some tower blocks?

    You could investigate whether the frequencies used by the tower interfere with the frequency used by the phone. Some wireless phones have the capability of letting the user select the frequency that the phone uses.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    Hmm, what kind of construction would do that? Alumin(i)um wall studs forming some sort of Faraday cage?
    No expert here but my cell phone has much better reception when I'm outside our house which is covered in 1970's aluminum siding.

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    Personally I would order a relatively well reviewed item from amazon. If it doesn't work, return it for a refund. Empirical evidence awaits.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sticks View Post
    What ever it is,, when I last tried one, I don't think the handset even worked in the same room as the base unit.
    That suggests to me that you had an issue with RF interference...or a crappy phone.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PetersCreek View Post
    That suggests to me that you had an issue with RF interference...or a crappy phone.
    I currently have no problems with my mobile / cell phone nor the analogue cordless phone. When digital first came out I was under the impression that it would be more robust than analogue.

    How would the construction materials cause RF interference?

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sticks View Post
    How would the construction materials cause RF interference?
    I think the suggestion is that, if your phone didn't work in the same room as the base unit, it's probably nothing to do with the construction material - either external interference or a faulty phone.

    Grant Hutchison

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    Cordless landline telephones and building materials

    I agree that pretty much any phone should have worked in the same room unless there was serious interference. Is there a Cell Phone antenna on your building?

    That said, the analog phone may operate in a different frequency band than the digital one. Certainly, different frequencies are affected differently by building materials as evidenced by my WiFi routerís vastly worse coverage at 5 GHz vs 2.5 GHz.

    ETA: we have a DECT 6.0 cordless phone, and it works great. Much better coverage than our previous digital and analog sets.



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    Sticks, are you able to check, from the manual or manufacturer's website, what frequency your current, functional phone uses? Setting your digital phone to use the same frequency would help, whether the issue is structural, or the wifi in the flat below, or the baby monitor in the flat above.
    If it is RF interference, then using a non-wifi frequency like 900MHz might help - unless you have a ham radio operator nearby.

    Grant Hutchison

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    Grant Hutchison I have had the analogue one for so long, I can no longer find the manual, even in my small flat, sorry....

    The latest update on this, is that this morning I went to the local Argos store, (A catalogue store for those outside the UK), and purchased a Binatone Veva 1900 Cordless for £14.99. There was another model at £13.99 but that is on "clearance", I heard somewhere you avoid items being sold on "clearance" So in effect this is an entry level device. (It has a whole load of features, I may never use as most of my comms work is done by mobile. I may not even programme the address book)

    I decommissioned the old analogue telephone, taking care to make sure I could reinstall it if required. I then installed the new phone and, although the instruction leaflet said I need to have it on charge for 15 hours, I was able to successfully get the dial tone. I rang my land line number from my mobile, and it rang. I then proceeded to ring my father and my elder sister and her husband and successfully was able to hold a conversation in all parts of the flat, even in my bedroom, where there was a wall between me and the base station.

    The new phone is now on charge.

    This brings me back to part of my original question, have digital cordless phones improved, regarding avoiding RF interference since the Noughties, as I think that is when I may have first tried a digital cordless, unsuccessfully and in desperation bought the battery that extended the life of my analogue phone from the defunct Maplins store.

    Were digital cordless phones back then more subject to RF interference from such things as building materials? What did they do to reduce RF interference issues in current models?

    For the moment it seems that the issue of my cordless land line phone capability is resolved, I just need to deal with a corded answer-phone that now thinks the year is 2000, but that's another story...

    Addendum: I also did some regression testing on the Answer phone to make sure that it was no knocked out of action, like making sure it still gets a dial tone and it also rang when i did a test ring of my land line.
    Last edited by Sticks; 2020-Jan-04 at 05:18 PM. Reason: add Addendum

  16. #16
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    There are presumably refinements in the handset, in terms of teasing out signal from noise. But modern base stations often offer a range of connection frequencies, and an "auto" mode that samples the RF environment and chooses the least noisy frequency. (This can cause interesting problems when an entire building full of such devices reboots after a power cut.)

    Grant Hutchison

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