In an earlier blog (that people seemed to like!), I explained in no uncertain terms that moving your BT Master socket was A Bad Idea.
But That’s Not The Full Story…
There is a way of translating exactly what your BT Master Socket does to wherever you’d prefer to have your broadband modem plugged in at your house.
Totally legally, easily done, and without compromising your broadband quality by mixing it up with other stuff (which might interfere and slow it down). Please read on!
What Does A Master Socket Do, Anyway?
There’s nothing mysterious in it. It simply serves as the border between you wiring and that of Openreach (former BT). It’s an electronic boundary post, first and foremost. It’s a physical break for testing Openreach’s supply to your house.
BT Openreach’s Bit
Two terminals/pins marked A and B are behind that socket front, and your broadband and telephone traffic arrives on these. I’m frequently amazed that 18mb can arrive via two 0.5mm wires. But it does.
So, what if you wanted to move those two wires that arrive in your house to somewhere else?
The choices are:-
a/ Move the master socket. (We can’t really (officially) do that.)
b/ Make an exact copy of it and run some wires between the two. Yes, we can do that!
So, it’s fairly easy:-
A New Socket
A new complete master socket with a filtered faceplate needs to be bought for where you want the new one to be located. There are plenty on Amazon or eBay. .
A Socket With Filtered Faceplates, That Is.
Buy two filtered faceplates from the same source, one for your new master socket, one for the old one. (Don’t worry – all will be explained.). You’ll need one with pins 2,3, 4 and another A and B in the same area on the socket. A “filtered faceplate” can be identified by having two sockets on the front, one for your router lead (small plug), and one for a phone plug.
Oh, and a wire insertion tool. A jolly good thing to have, and with useful life beyond this project.
Buy some professional-quality telephone cable. This will have solid cores (not braided, that is, made up of tiny strands crushed together). It will also have a “twist” in the pairs of cable, a bit like a hair plait. This feature means you lose less of the signal as it travels down the cable. This is more important than it seems, trust me. I’ve blogged about it here
Run Your Cable!
Now run the cable between the two sockets, away from anything significantly electrical, such as TV, monitor, central heating pump, power supplies, transformers, nuclear power stations, GCHQ listening stations, fluorescent tube lighting, or consistently parallel to mains cables, etc., etc. You won’t manage to dodge all of it, but do your best! Outside the house is often good, provided external cable is used.
Terminate (Punch Down) Your Cable
Then feed the cable into both master sockets, and onto the connectors on the both filtered faceplates marked “A”and “B” (the ones next to 2, 3, and 4). Connect these “A” and “B”pins at the original socket end, with the pins “A” and “B” on the back of the socket at the new end. This is effectively transferring your unfiltered broadband signal straight off the incoming line, and to you “new” master socket.
Check For Signs of Life
Check for a dialling tone at the new socket (with the front on). If found (which means you’ve connected the socket successfully), plug in your broadband hub into the smaller socket, and off you go!
You’ve just “moved” your master socket. Your old “A” and “B” have been translated to the new “A” and “B”. Your broadband signal should be free of interference.
One More Time…
Your broadband arrives via the “A” and “B” pins on the back of the original master socket. These are duplicated on the front of the detachable filter plate on the original master socket. Connected is then made to the rear “A and B” on the newly-installed master socket. And again:- the outgoing A and B on the original connect to the incoming on the new socket.
Any Questions? Well I suspect you might ask…
“Don’t you lose some of the broadband signal via the cable run to the new master socket”
Well, provided that you are keeping the new cable fairly clear of any source of interference, you won’t lose much at all, probably about as much as you would if your house was a few yards down the street, and further away from the exchange.
Why Not Cat 5 / Cat 6?
“Shouldn’t you be using high-specification Ethernet/network “Cat 5” data network cable to connect the two sockets?
Yes, instructions found in some new sockets supplied by Openreach stress this. It’s a source of much debate among professionals, including some that I network with on-line. I don’t think it makes any difference – it has arrived at your house along non-Ethernet cable so far, often a couple of miles from the exchange. There are even those who say that broadband was actually designed to run on traditional telephone cable.There’s casual evidence from a former BT senior engineer “insider” that this is correct. So, providing that you use solid-core, twisted-pair cable (that is, professional-grade stuff, not cheap and nasty, often used by burglar alarm companies), losses should be minimal.
Why Can’t I Joint Straight Onto The Line?
“Can’t I just connect to the A and B on the back of the original master, the ones that have BT/Openreach’s incoming line connected?”
No. That original master needs to remain as the boundary between your premises cabling and their network, via the detachable frontplate. If you’ve ever had to deal with a persistent line noise problem (and dispute), believe me, it’s vital to have that demarcation point. Remove the front plate and you can prove that the problem is on Openreach’s side in seconds.
Won’t A Joint Do?
“Why can’t I just put a joint in where the old master socket is, and do away with the master socket?”
Because an old, grubby cable mysteriously jointed to a shiny new one is evidence enough to an Openreach engineer that fiddling and relocation have taken place. Therefore, they may sting you for a £200 reinstallation fee , especially if you’ve put a short circuit on their network. And most non-engineers don’t know how to joint in-line cables in the same way that engineers do. So it’s very hard to hide the evidence. I’ve seen it done…
I’ve blogged about the do’s and don’t of jointing cables here
Most master sockets were located in ground floor areas near the point of cable entry, typically the hall or front room. Rarely were they put elsewhere. £20.00 on materials, or a potential £200.00 fee?
Oops This blog has got quite long!
There’s much more on-line on this topic. Thanks for your patience!
I might be able to help I cover Middlesbrough, Darlington, North Yorkshire and beyond, as I’m a telephone engineer based in Stockton on Tees, So, if you need me to come and sort anything out, please get in touch!