Don’t Do It Yourself DSL

The following instructions were written in 2000 when DSL was a relatively new thing! We’re keeping it up for posterity. It’s old information but may be helpful to someone somewhere.

First and foremost, do not, I repeat, do not try to replicate anything that you see in the following pages. You may damage your phones, your phone lines, your computer, yourself or your pets. In fact, you probably should not be thinking about installing your own DSL equipment at all. Just let the phone guys do it. The following pages are just one account of one self install DSL equipment job. is NOT responsible for any damages incurred by trying to self install DSL equipment, phone equipment, computer equipment or any other equipment. The information on the following pages is believed to be accurate in theory, but to an expert the nomenclature may not. These pages are written in simple speak for simple folk. At the end of the day, everything on my end worked (rather well, I might add), so my installation was correct. However, once again, I must say DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME! The pictures are not the clearest, I didn’t feel like dealing with a tripod. With that out of the way, let’s get started.

What everyone should know about their telephone lines:

Most of today’s telephone signals are carried into and throughout your house on small, solid copper wires. Believe it or not, only two, tiny wires twisted around one another carry all kinds of info: voice, data, DSL, etc. The two twisted wires are known as an Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP). The wires are twisted around one another for noise cancellation. The pairs are kept organized by a color coding system also know as Telco Wire Color System. The system is pretty straight forward, every pair has a dominant color – blue, green, orange, etc., etc. One of the pair is a solid color with small white stripes, the other is white with stripes matching the color of its pair. As the pairs go up in quantity, they lose the white and have different colors in the pairs, ie: red and blue, red and green, etc. For most standard household installs you will never see the “higher colors”.

Telephone wires

Note: I have 3 pairs, a Blue pair, an Orange pair, and a Green pair. These wires travel throughout the entire house making stops at all telephone wall jacks. Also notice the old wall grommet, I will make reference to it later.

Tip and Ring:

Every pair has a polarity, a “Hot” and a “Ground”. In telephone lingo the Hot is called “Ring” and the Ground is called “Tip”. However, the Hot side carries -48 Volts DC, so it does not have a normal positive charge you would find in common polarities. This is very important, and I will be referencing Tip and Ring constantly in the upcoming pages. Normally the lines carry various amounts of DC voltage, for data and voice communications, this voltage is considered to be low. On the other hand, the Ring side of a telephone line can carry up to 90 VAC of power. This is so that the phone lines can ring the ringer or bells inside your telephone. I have never been shocked while working on telephones, but then again, I have never had the phone ring while I was working on them. The “Installing Your Own Telephones” book, 3rd Edition, from Radio Shack suggests that you take one of the phones in the house off the hook so that the circuit for the ring voltage cannot close therefore avoiding a jolt when Aunt Betty calls. The book also says not to work on phone lines if you have a pacemaker or during electrical storms. Once again, Smellyeyeball is not responsible if you fry yourself, your spouse or pet hamster. SmellyEyeball is just not responsible. Period.

In general, the solid color, with the white stripe is the Ring, the other is the Tip.

From the street:

In my case, the lines coming in from the street are of a different breed. These lines are thicker and just come in just solid colors, these colors are still used in all aspects of phone installation especially when wiring the wall jacks.

The colors are as follows: in pairs Red (Ring) and Green (Tip), and Yellow (Ring) and Black (Tip). However, depending on your configuration your Yellow may not always be Ring and Black may not always be Tip (you can check this with a Modular Line Tester described on the next page). Depending on how many active lines you have coming into your house one or both of the pairs may be hot. My hot pair just happened to be the Yellow (Ring) and Black (Tip). When you open up your “telephone box” (probably the one on the outside of your house marked TELEPHONE) you will see a big, gnarly 4 conductor cable coming into the box and split off into the pairs mentioned above. The pairs will be fastened down to a big metal block called a Protector with 4 screws or nuts securing the ends to the wires. These wires originate at a place called the Central Office. You have to be a finite distance from the Central Office to be able to receive DSL. The pairs coming from the Central Office to your house make a loop with your telephones as the segment links in the loop. If you look at it as if the Ring is IN and Tip is OUT you can picture the loop, this is called the Local Loop.

Note, in the picture that the Yellow and Black pair are attached to the Blue pair at the protector. The Red and Green pair attached to the Orange pair are dead.

Let’s Install!!!

The first thing I had to do was wire the wall jack. After looking at what wires were attached at the protector I determined the Blue pair was feeding my voice line. A quick way to figure out which pair is active is to disconnect one of the pairs at the telephone box and pick up one of the phone receivers in your house. No dial tone? That’s the active pair! The Orange pair had been active at one point in time because it was attached to the Red and Green pair. I figured that the least disturbed pair was the Green pair, since it appeared to have never been used for anything. The Green pair is what I will use as my DSL pair.

Next: Wall Jack Hell