Adding your own NTE5 (UK)
A lot of the great stuff on this site discusses and uses the NTE5 type BT master linebox. But what if your master isn't an NTE5? Do you throw your hands in the air and wail "Oh noes!" and slink away defeated?
Not in the least! Here's a couple of solutions, ultimately ending up with you having an NTE5 fitted with which to orchestrate your plans to maximise your broadband potency - and perhaps even download the entire Internet.
First, the official facts and rules.
The Master linebox, provided by BT, is BT's property.
The Master linebox is the official "demarcation"* point marking where BT's exchange line, part of the Public Switched Telephone Network ends and the customer's stuff begins.
*(or demarkation; for the grammar nazis, both are valid)
The Master is the arch-enemy of TV's Doctor Who, and is not the Master we're concerned with here.
The rule, then, is simple: You may not work on the Public Switched Telephone Network. You're not a telecom line engineer. And if you are, well why are you even reading this, get on with you already know needs to be done (nudge, wink)
Think of it like this - you can work on electrical wires in your home (to an extent, stick with me here and don't spoil my analogy) but it's perfectly clear to everyone that you can't work on the electricity cables on the other side of your meter, or indeed outside your house. Certainly, unlike mains electricity wires, BT exchange line wires won't blow your eyebrows off (well they can, but you might have to pierce your skin with both wires and have somebody phone you) but the model of why you aren't allowed to work on it is the same.
So working on an actual BT line breaches your contract with them, and also is illegal - I'm afraid I can't cite the law that covers this - I used to know many years ago but nope, it's gone.
This is the official situation of it all then. To sum up; No messing with the phone line.
I say "offical". But you'll want to keep reading - you'll find more about fitting your own master or replacing an existing one a bit further down.
And here we come to the NTE5 and the clever thinking behind it.
You're officially allowed to connect things to the NTE5's removable faceplate 'til your heart's content. At the same time, everything you connect to BT's line must be connected to the removable faceplate. Here's why;
Removing the faceplate detaches every single thing of yours from the line, including all extension wiring. This means that a visiting engineer can take the faceplate off and in doing so, remove everything that's your fault. Sorry, I mean "responsibility". He can then test the exchange line simply, quickly and properly, absolutely clean of anything which isn't BT's responsibility.
It's that simple. The removable faceplate is so that you can be completely removed from the line in one easy unplugging stroke. And if the line tests OK, demonstrating that the trouble is with your hardware or cabling, the chargeable fee ticket gets written up for the
And of course removing the faceplate and associated wiring, disconnecting it from the exchange line, means there's no electricity present on the wires you're working on when fitting out extensions. So even though the line voltages are not high, you could argue a safety point there. Notice how due to the way the faceplate plugs into the NTE5 main body, you're never dealing with wires from the actual BT line.
So what to do if your Master isn't an NTE5?
Well, you can simply make the first box extended from the non-NTE5 master an NTE5!
All you do to circumvent this situation is make an NTE5 of your own the very first "extension" from the true Master box,
and serve ALL other telephone points from there. You're therefore
establishing your own master distribution point, while maintaining
ADSL and VDSL adaptor faceplates to centrally filter and split your POTS and DSL services.
So, here's an illustration of a self-fitted NTE5 box scenario;
This pic should be wholly self-explanatory.
In summary, the line connection points on the rear of your new NTE5 unit are two terminals labeled A and B. Connect extension wires 2 & 5 from the Master to these terminals, and you now have a working NTE5 line box to do with as you will, all 100% above-board. Proceed to deploy the rest of your cabling plans, pretending the NTE5 is really your real master box.
Reminder: Don't forget the real master box won't be filtered if you're fitting an NTE5 and an ADSL adaptor together - only connections made TO the ADSL adaptor are filtered - so if you still want to use any POTS things (telephones, faxes, SKY box, etc.) at the real master any more you'll need to use a plug-in dangly microfilter for it. This is why I'm suggesting mounting the new NTE5 beside it - to take over these jobs!
An existing extension cable running from a non-NTE5 master might well also be BT property if it was hooked up by them and thus technically you shouldn't be fiddling with that either.
But this too is easily dealt with; If you're not sure about the ownership of an existing hardwired
extension on a non-NTE5 type Master, and want to strictly adhere to the Book, then you should add
your own NTE5 to a short extension cable that's plugged in to the real master! Brilliant, simple, and 100% allowed! The choice, as always, is yours.
A possible side benefit for you;
NOW, notice also that other permutations are opened up for the more advanced users among you. For example, extension wires supplied from the true BT Master are still UNFILTERED under all scenarios. Meaning they still carry the full ADSL signal. So if you happen to deploy the NTE5 ADSL adaptor in order to FILTER all your telephone extensions in one go but you locate it some distance from the real Master due to your own particular genius layout plans, you could still feasibly supply an ADSL-serving extension direct from the true Master. Just a point to keep in mind when you're plotting and planning.
REPLACING your Master with an NTE5 of your own
This page used to say simply "Don't ever, and that's that".
Well, I'm changing it. In the Real World, people do this all the time. Obviously I couldn't possibly advise it formally or professionally, but as people do want and need the info, I'm going to write up the theory. Just to be crystal clear; The rules are that only BT can fit a new master on their Public Switched Telephone Line, end of offical story. That is my formal advice to you all.
All that now follows is for your information, curiosity and perhaps amusement.
LONG STORY SHORT, this is what you need: NTE5 (RF FILTERED)
This is the exact part, same spec, from the same factory assembly line, used now by BT Openreach engineers. (Without the Openreach embossed logo of course - only Openreach themselves are allowed to fit those, no exceptions. Any OpenReach-branded NTE5 which doesn't come with an OpenReach Engineer holding it has undoubtedly been illegally taken from an engineer's van stock or from an unscrupulous contractor Openreach has used. BT isn't stupid - they know what parts they've fitted at every premises, so an Openreach branded unit which wasn't fitted by them will quickly get a red flag.) So using one of these, you're fitting precisely the correct part for the job. Click that link, order it, fit it, job done.
To get one (or more) of the actual new 2011-specification NTE5 line boxes as now being issued to BT OpenReach's Line Engineers:
ENTIRELY COINCIDENTALLY as I sit writing this page in my preferred coffee shop, I couldn't help overhearing a couple of guys at an adjacent table who appear to be Openreach engineers just moments ago saying something relevant to this very point.
They were discussing how they felt about discovering self-fitted NTE5 masters at premises when they were on a site call-out. They both appreared to agree that as long as it was a proper NTE5 such as they themselves used ( the ones on clarity.it being the very thing for the job of course, place your order now!), and as long as it was correctly and neatly fitted, then they wouldn't even give it a second glance. Although both did nod vigorously when the point of shabbily fitted ones came up. Oh yes, half-assed connection of the wires and obvious lazy lack of neatness really gets their professionally proud BT goats, and that's a chargeable replacement fitted straight away. They were saying.
While that's the absolutely correct thing for them to do of course, I'd like to lapse into prose form for a moment and recreate almost word-for-word another interesting point which followed on the matter of charging a customer to replace non-BT equipment installed at premises;
As possibly eavesdropped upon by myself: Two line engineers, earlier today;
"But, Thomas, what if the guy protests and says it wasn't he who fitted it, and that it was Like That When He Moved In?" the larger man asked his colleague.
"Well, Richard, in that case I'm obviously onto plums and have to tear up my charge sheet. Or delete it off my BT laptop if that's how we do it now", said the unshaven of the pair.
"Yes, I'm the same, Thomas; after all, how could I possibly prove otherwise? And indeed, it's entirely possible that the fellow's being truthful"
Thomas nodded. "I'm quite sure no-one would even consider lying to us, actual BT/Openreach line engineers though, don't you think?".
"Of course," agreed Richard. "The British public are fully trustworthy."
An interesting, and entirely coincidental conversation to overhear. And now to stop writing this bit.
To get one (or more) of the actual new 2011-specification NTE5 line boxes as now being issued to BT OpenReach's Line Engineers:
How somebody would theoretically change out an
old BT Master for a new NTE5 Master
Purely for educational interest, this is what such a theoretical person would do;
First, he'd remind himself that an active service telephone line has a voltage present on the wires. He'd be very careful to never let them touch together, and best to not blatantly touch the exposed copper of either wire too. The line voltage will be either -10V or -48V DC depending what's happening on the line at that moment, and while 10V won't even beat the resistance of your fingers (think of a 9V battery!), 48V is best avoided. This is one of the reasons why IDC terminals are so great - you don't actually strip and touch the wires!
"If I accidentally touch the line wires together will I destroy BT? Could I put a hole in the planet?"
No, but don't you be the clown who tries it.
IF it's an old NTE5 which he's replacing...
...perhaps because it's damaged or in a poor condition, he'd remove the consumer-removable lower half faceplate. He'd then remove the NTE5 main body (by the two screws which are revealed when he takes the faceplate off).
Detaching the main NTE5 body from its wall mounting backbox, on the back he'll find two wires connected to terminals labelled "A" and "B". These are the actual exchange line wires. Depending on the age of the faceplate these will be connected on screw terminals (old style until circa 2009/2010 with BT) or IDC terminals (more recent and current BT/Openreach style). Our theoretical person would disconnect the wires. If it was screw terminals, he'd cut back the bared copper wires so that they're once again insulated all the way with no bared copper. If it was IDC terminals, he'd actually also cut maybe an inch off the wires so that he's starting fresh for the new connection. I may be stating the obvious here, but it's good and correct practice to always leave plenty of excess cable length to allow for future rewiring and cutting.
He'd then simply connect the wires to the same named terminals on the new NTE5, which WILL be IDC type (because he'd definitely be using the exactly CORRECT NTE5 part, bought from HERE!) using a suitable IDC punch-down tool to do the job properly and securely.
Then he'd simply refit the new main unit to the wall mounting. If extension wires were fitted previously, he'd either fit the old faceplate again, or - and this is best so that all electrical connections are brand new - transplant the wires terminal-to-terminal on the new faceplate. In fact best to use the new faceplate because it now has a little RF anti-interference choke for the ringer wire in it.
* If instead fitting one of our Modified BT ADSL Adaptor faceplates then the ringer wire is isolated internally and is no longer any potential RF issue anyway.
IF it's any other old format of master line box which he's replacing...
...then again, there will be two wires connected from the incoming exchange line cable, and the terminals to which they're connected may be either A & B, or 2 & 5. He'd be sure to observe which goes where and make a note. In the case of the old terminals being named A and B, then these wires are to be moved to the same named terminals on the new NTE5. In the case of 2 and 5, then the wire which was on 2 would be moved to the A terminal, and the other from 5 to B on the new NTE5. If the connections on the old box were screw terminals, he'd cut back the bared copper wires so that they're once again insulated all the way with no bared copper. If it was IDC terminals, he'd actually also cut maybe an inch off the wires so that he's starting fresh for the new connection. I may be repeating the obvious from above here, but it's good and correct practice to always leave plenty of excess cable length to allow for future rewiring and cutting.
So that's that. All the information you came to this page to find, I have almost no doubt. If that is indeed the case, I'll ask you to now reward my detailed write-up and hopefully helpful scribblings by now placing an order for your installation parts, starting with the current generation NTE5 master line box from HERE!
New 2011-specification NTE5 line boxes as now being issued to BT OpenReach's Line Engineers:
Ta for your business!
If I've missed anything and there's still anything unanswered - drop us an email! Contacts link below!