The BT Openreach New NTE5C Master Socket has been available for some time now. As I’m a telephone engineer, who has dealt with master sockets for years, I thought I’d give a guided tour
Before We Start…
If you don’t want to read my masterpiece below, and just need to get in touch, click here for the details.
To clarify, I’m looking at the type with the “Mk4” filtered front plate (shown above). You can, however, obtain other front plates, which just have a BT phone-type socket.
Dealing with the older-style NTE5 sockets can be very fiddly! Attachment of multiple extension wires to the front detachable panel means accidental disconnection in some cases. The screws can be lost! Strangely, there’s only one point of connection for extensions on the new filtered face plate. It’s of a push-down “cam-lock” type. Cramming in lots of wires is not possible – they will need to be jointed elsewhere. Good!
Well, at least I hope so! Taking a filtered face plate apart reveals a complex set of filters.
Compare and contrast with the classic cheapie “dangle-filter” (on the right). Hopefully, this means more advanced filtration of noise, hence faster broadband. Apparently, it’s optimised for the fastest Openreach copper product. This is fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) VDSL. I have seen this perform at almost 60Mb download. Astonishing!
It seems like Openreach want to get users to install the BT Openreach New NTE5C Master Socket themselves! For this reason, the wiring terminations are the “cam lock” type.
Simply poke wire in, and press down the lock. Done! You won’t even need a screwdriver for the front cover – it simply clips on (but not very well – more of this later.)
There seems to be a bit more inside the casing to route cables. Lack of space was a frequent problem with the older ones.
There’s an “A” and a “B” for a Remote Broadband Socket!
You can connect another one of these filtered sockets via a spare “A and B pin, effectively delivering just what comes fresh into your house to another point. This is before it gets chance to pick up interference from other devices. More about setting up a separate secondary “master” here
What’s Not So Good.
It’s a Bit Bulky!
This is the down-side of the better space inside. With the filtered face plate, it sticks out around two to three inches from the surface. It makes it vulnerable to impacts, and there’s not a lot to hold it on, which leads me on to…
It’s A Bit Lightweight!
The plastic lugs which keep the front look like they would harden and snap with time. I can’t see an obvious way to repair it, apart from a foot of duct tape. The old NTE’s used to get bashed and occasionally crack, and they were a 1980’s solid design. There’s not much hope for this one, unless you hide it from shoes, dogs, chair legs, aggressive turtles, high-speed RC cars, etc. At least this generates repair work for me…
The Cam Locks.
It actually took quite some effort to break the old-style punch-down connectors of a good-quality NTE5. The new wire termination points may be tool-less, but once you’ve broken one (and it won’t be hard), you can throw the whole unit away. Some engineers claim that it takes them longer to work with these than the former punch-down pins, as wire insertion is fiddly, and it’s easy to misplace the wires and still have the cam-lock engage.
The Cam Locks Again.
As per the comments above, you can only get one voice-side (telephone) extension pair (to a phone, etc) on the front cam locks. So, if you need more, you’ll need to be clever in cabling and jointing, using three-way jelly crimps. I have done this, and it takes time and thought. In the old NTEs, it was just about possible to punch down two or even three wires per pin. Those days have gone.
Problems with Fitting
Bitter experience has shown me that they do not fit a steel, recessed back-box unless the said back-box has been installed perfectly flush to the plaster, which never happens, as these boxes are slapped in by electricians, then plastered around by chaps in a hurry. Your standard electrical socket will have some wiggle-room. The NTE 5C does not. The best solution is to leave the thing slightly loose then fill around it, praying that you never have to remove it. That’s progress, folks… (?!)
And The Big Question – Will It Speed Up My Broadband?
They are so new that I’ve not seen many results as yet. If you are two miles from an exchange or FTTC cabinet, then it won’t move you closer. You will always suffer from slow speeds. (P.S. some replies to this blog indicate an improvement)
But if you are in the mood to change your old NTE5, then it won’t do any harm. The whole broadband thing constantly amazes me. I’m astounded that it ever works at all. I would suggest getting one. I can even fit it for you (or find someone local who can) if you get in touch! !
Higher speed? The cynical old engineer in me says “maybe”. They are cheap-ish on eBay, and it’s worth a try. If I get some astonishing results, I’ll let you know. (some folks have commented below on improvements) For now, with the BT Openreach New NTE5C Master Socket, that’s about as far as I’d go.
(I don’t operate a helpline, as this site is ad-free and does not generate enough revenue to support it. However, if you email me with questions, I’m generally too kind to ignore them. However, here’s the deal:- I try and answer your query – you then leave some nice feedback on Facebook and Google Plus. Does this seem fair? Good! 🙂 )