Alarm System Interrupting DSL Internet Service, and a Fix
August 6, 2008
When I moved into our new house earlier this year, we immediately ordered high-speed DSL Internet service from Verizon. In addition, we installed a security system via a Monitronics contractor. While Scott, the Monitronics contractor, was installing the alarm box and hooking it up to a phone line, I asked him if there should be a DSL filter as well. He explained that the alarm system would only actually use the phone line during emergencies, and that it would work without a DSL filter anyway. I took his explanation at face value, and he hooked up the alarm system without using a DSL line.
In the months since then, we’d been having trouble with our high-speed Internet service. It’d shut down / cut out several times a day, mostly at inappropriate times especially during important videophone conversations. At other times, it’d slow down to a trickle and our pages would l-o-a-d o-h s-o s-l-o-w-l-y … I kept trying different things to fix this problem — calling Verizon, paying $$ for a new wifi router, paying more $$ for an all-in-one modem/router from Verizon, shortening the phone / cable lines, tweaking router settings, etc etc etc. Nothing seemed to remedy the DSL service problems, which was quite embarassing to me — after all, I’m a Proud Geek who prides myself on my ability to solve computer and network problems!
Then I had a brain fart, ahem, notion: what if the alarm system was indeed interfering with our high-speed Internet service? After all, it was installed without a DSL filter. So, I emailed Scott and asked him to come and install a DSL filter (that we already had from Verizon) between the alarm system and the phone line. Despite protestations that the alarm system is NOT interfering with our DSL service, he came the next day, charged us $85 (sigh), installed the DSL filter in minutes, and left.
And behold and lo, our Internet service has (miraculously?) improved! It has not shut down even once in the week since Scott’s visit — even during ultra-important and lengthy videophone conversations. Connection stays swimmingly high, and our pages load quickly and consistently. YAY! My Proud Geek reputation stays untarnished!
Moral of the story? Don’t listen when alarm technicians tell you that alarm systems don’t need a DSL filter. If you get DSL high-speed Internet service, insist that alarm technicians do plug alarm systems into a DSL filter then into the phone system.
What are DSL filters, and why do we need them? High-speed DSL service uses the same phone line we use. These phone lines (mostly) have 4 “wires” within each phone cable. (Office phone lines often have six wires for additional phone functions like intercom, conferencing, etc — that’s why office phone lines are sometimes thicker.) DSL service uses two of these wires and voice service uses the other two wires. But when regular telephones are plugged into a phone line that is being shared with DSL service, users can hear an electronic “hiss.” In addition, DSL Internet service users may see interruptions. DSL filters are used in between telephones and phone lines to make sure that telephones use the two wires that aren’t being used by the DSL high-speed Internet service.
As an aside: we had our Monitronics alarm system installed for free, including numerous wireless window sensors, a motion detector, two strobe lights, and an alarm console. We pay $38 a month. If we get several referrals (maybe 2? maybe 4?) of people who then use Monitronic’s alarm system, our first year’s payments are waived. If we get a few more referrals (2 more? 4 more?) after that, then payments for the following year are also waived. If you’re interested in getting the same deal and would like to be one of my referrals (and then you could work on getting your own referrals), email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Monitronics” in the subject. I don’t get paid nor get advertising dollars for doing this blog, so I’d consider this semi-payment! :-)