US Cordless Phone in Europe
February 1, 2005 1:53 PM   Subscribe

PhoneFilter: I am thinking of buying a US-sold cordless phone and bringing it back to Europe. Other than voltage and frequency (which I've checked) is there any other reason why an American phone wouldn't work or work less in Europe (different ring-tone signals or Caller ID standards perhaps)?
posted by costas to Technology (8 answers total)
The numbers, back when I did this with rotary and early touch tones, I had to "re-do" the numbers on the phones as 0 and 9 are in opposite spots. If it's still like that (which i strongly suspect it is) a lo-tech hack like painting the numbers correctly on the phone or opening it and moving the buttons around will work nicely.
posted by dabitch at 3:13 PM on February 1, 2005

See also (though it doesn't mention caller ID)
posted by cillit bang at 3:44 PM on February 1, 2005

Where in Europe are you planning to use the phone? I know that I had been thinking of using a US cordless phone in the UK but didn't because it hadn't been rated for RF by the appropriate agency in the UK. Caller ID also differs in the UK from in the US - BT (the incumbent telecoms provider in the UK) have a different standard so a phone supporting US-only caller ID won't work.
posted by danhon at 11:03 PM on February 1, 2005

Such phones tend to work, but may be ilegal for one reason or another. Some years ago it was common for Europeans to buy cordless phones in the States where they were cheaper.
posted by Goofyy at 12:09 AM on February 2, 2005

Response by poster: I checked the owner's manual, and no there is no CE certification (the EU equivalent of FCC). But the 5.8GHz band is free in Europe according to my research. The problem is really what danhon is saying, that signalling itself is different (so far it looks like it is)...
posted by costas at 3:19 AM on February 2, 2005

I bought one for a friend of mine in Turkey. He had no problems plugging it in and getting all the basic functions of the phone to work. He didn't have Caller ID service, so no experience on that.

The only thing he had a problem with was the digital answering machine. It records the message fine, but the phone can't seem to detect the hang-up tone. So, it will usually also record about 10 seconds of the irritating tone before cutting off. So, all he does is to listen to the message and then skip or delete as soon as he hears the tone. It could be a major inconvenience though if you're like me and press play on the machine while doing other work around the house...

Of course, I don't know if Turkey's phone system is more similar to the U.S. or European system in general...
posted by tuxster at 9:00 AM on February 2, 2005

costas: sorry, I should clarify - even though the band might be free (and in some EU countries 5.8GHz is probably unlicensed spectrum - you could probably find out from the relevant authority), it's the certification that will get you. CE is just a general standard for certification, but individual member states may have their own RF testing requirements that go over-and-above EU-wide requirements.

I hadn't made it clear in my above post that while the caller ID system is different in EU than in the US (e.g. in the UK caller ID information is transmitted before the first ring, as opposed to after in the US), that probably won't stop the phone working if it's still wired up properly, just that caller ID won't work. That said, I've only just remembered that the *ring* signal is also different in the UK and has a lot to do with the voltage that's sent down the line to make sure that the phones ring.

Is there any reason why you're after that particular Uniden model?
posted by danhon at 11:48 AM on February 2, 2005

Response by poster: danhon: here's my reason. I just cannot find a decent dual-line cordless phone in Europe (I want to hook up my regular landline and my Vonage line): the only DECT phone that could take two lines that I could find was a super-expensive Siements (business-oriented) that also has some horrific reviews. The Uniden is cheap for what it does and has all the latest bells-and-whistles...

Also, after further research I found out that the European standards for Caller ID and maybe even for dial-tone (governed by ETSI) are indeed different from the FCC ones. That of course doesn't mean that the Uniden cannt deal --my laptop modem doesn't recognize a European dial tone to start dialing until I tell XP that my location is indeed in Europe; so maybe the Uniden can do something similar. But its owner manual mentions nothing...
posted by costas at 2:59 AM on February 3, 2005

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