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May 17, 2012 12:12 PM   Subscribe

Help me understand my landline phone problems and possibly buy a new one.

I currently have a 10 year old vtech phone which I got because it handled multiple lines and associated "mailboxes" to store messages. It consists of a main base controlling messages and such (with an associated wireless handset to make calls) and a secondary base to hold a second handset. Until recently, both these bases had been wired as extensions of each other, but then, I accidentally disconnected the wire to the secondary base and discovered it wasn't needed because the second handset could get its signal wirelessly from the original base, despite being on another floor of the house.

I use this phone as my main number and use the 2 handsets, in addition to being extensions of this number, as an intercom to signal between floors. Either one can ring the other with a unique ringtone to initiate an intercom call.

If everything continued to work just like this, I'd leave it alone, but at some point, messages started arriving that were impossible to understand (sound too distorted as if out of range, maybe). This doesn't happen all the time so I originally thought the caller was at fault but it has become too common. Also, the lines are sometimes static-y/noisy when receiving actual calls.

So, here's my question: Are these problems because of the age of my equipment, and thus could I solve them by buying a new and different phone system? Is, say, the ROM that holds messages no longer "fresh?" (How does such a thing age? It's digital, so it's not like old recording tape . . .)

Or, is there, perhaps another problem? Such as competition for the wireless frequencies being used (e.g. wireless internet access points in the vicinity or even some other kind of interference.) or even just too much electronic equipment of various kinds which, for all I know, exudes electrical interfering signals just by existing. Or even some problem because DSL is sharing the line?

If the first, what brand phone should I get that will have the same functions (i.e. intercom function and no need for extension wiring though I no longer need the multiple lines)?

If the second, what can I do to troubleshoot it or to just get rid of the noise/static/indecipherable voice mail?
posted by Obscure Reference to Technology (2 answers total)
 
So, here's my question: Are these problems because of the age of my equipment, and thus could I solve them by buying a new and different phone system? Is, say, the ROM that holds messages no longer "fresh?" (How does such a thing age? It's digital, so it's not like old recording tape . . .)

I can't say conclusively. Flash memory does wear out after a number of rewrites. Rechargable batteries have similar limits where they stop being able to hold a charge or maintain the correct voltage after years of use.

If the first, what brand phone should I get that will have the same functions (i.e. intercom function and no need for extension wiring though I no longer need the multiple lines)?

I think most multiple-unit cordless phone systems support this now. I have a Uniden set that I purchased on sale at a large office supply store that handily does this.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 12:58 PM on May 17, 2012


Your system probably still works perfectly. But the radio frequency band used by cordless phones then (the 2.4 band) got pretty overrun by other wireless things, causing interference, so most phone makers switched to another band (5.8), around 8 years ago give or take a few. Now that's overrun and will get even worse. But now there is a new band and radio standard, 1.9, devoted to cordless phones only, we hope. The newer phones and the new radio band now use simple encryption and are much better protected from interference - for now.

vTech is still making phones, and Panasonic and RCA and Uniden. Here are a few listings to consider and see features - not a recommendation. Search "cordless handsets" to find more models.

Uniden

vTech
posted by caclwmr4 at 1:23 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


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