There are many reasons why a phone line can go faulty, especially with the degrading quality of the outdated Australian copper network infrastructure. The older the property is, the worse the situation is likely to be, especially if a high standard of workmanship was not performed when it was first installed.

This often sets a premise for future technicians and contractors to cut corners or simply make it impossible for them to uphold the cabling standards set by the ACMA (Australian Communications & Media Authority). Not only can there be internal cabling issues, but a telephone line can be affected by faulty conditions from the network side of the connection. In order to determine where the fault is and who is responsible for fixing it, you should perform some basic tests to try and isolate the issue.

Both network and private contractors will charge you for a fault diagnosis and repair, but the networks will not correct any internal customer cabling, which is defined as the first termination point on a property. This isn't always the socket in your house or apartment, so knowledge of the point is important to know.


In apartment blocks and other high density addresses, there is usually one designated area for all phone lines to be bridged between the network boundary and the customer cabling. This is called the MDF, or Main Distribution Frame. From this you can connect any line to any location within the property, making it possible to have any service from any provider delivered to your unit. The cabling throughout the building is often referred to as backbone cabling and typically runs from the MDF up to each riser cupboard where individual cables then run into each unit.

In a free standing house, it is usually a more simple and direct connection. A lead in cable will be fitted directly to the first socket. From there, other sockets will usually be connected back to this main socket in either a star or daisy chained configuration. In both examples, there can be many points where a fault may arise. Some of the more common phone line faults are:

  • Corrosion - causes poor conductivity and destroys the contacts both in the sockets terminals and can ruin the copper core of the cable/s
  • Poor Terminations - cables can be poorly secured to the krone modules or socket terminals in one or more sockets can cause a fault through the circuit
  • Crossed Conductors - the pair of wires can be touching causing the circuit to be closed and therefore permanently busy with no dial tone or voltage
  • Twist Rate - The pair of wires can be untwisted through the cable run making the line attenuation high therefore causing frequent static, affects ADSL
  • Unshielded Copper - removed PVC insulation from the copper will open the circuit to interference, water damage and electromagnetic influences
  • Socket Pins - the copper contacts can be pushed in, bent or missing from the connection where your line cord must make clean conductive contact

There are of course many other questionable installation techniques which can lead to unreliable connectivity, not to mention that your provider is subject to the ageing street cabling. By submitting a licensed TCA-1 telecommunications report you have ammunition for the network to act on repairing their line. To investigate and resolve phone issues once and for all, get a professional to inspect and suggest ways of eliminating problems with your property.