Don Trauger – Kennett
Residents that still have Verizon telephone service may have experienced prolonged outages and other varying problems recently. Basically, most of the problems are related to the deterioration of wiring and delayed maintenance on the main junction boxes. This situation can also affect Internet service from Verizon. Contrary to popular belief Verizon telephone service is NOT required to operate our alarm systems. Instead, switching to Comcast Digital Voice and Comcast Internet service can and will eliminate the insecurity of depending on Verizon not only for phone and Internet service, but for our alarm systems as well.
How would this work in Hershey’s Mill, considering we must maintain full use of our alarm systems? Actually, perfectly well, but read on.
I’ve been using Comcast’s Digital Voice for 3 years after experiencing intermittent noise and static with Verizon’s telephone services. Verizon tried unsuccessfully to find the problem. A call to the Comcast Customer Service Center at 215-992-2712 set up a mutually agreed upon installation date. Make sure you ask for any promotional pricing that is available. The unit is a combination cable modem for high speed Internet service and a telephone adapter for telephone service. It has a battery which acts as a substitute power source for the telephone adapter in case of a power failure. It will provide power for up to 4 hours of continuous talk and up to 12 hours in standby mode. You will need to have a TV cable wall jack nearby.
The installer wanted to open up the telephone wall connection to “hard wire” the unit. I convinced him that was unnecessary and to use the plug-in modular wall jack. He agreed. This avoids any chance of miswiring and causing potential alarm system problems. He used his cell phone to “port” my phone number from Verizon to the new Comcast service. Outside the house, in the NID (Network Interface Device) or Demarc connection box, he disconnected the Verizon lines coming into my home. This prevents any voltages from the Verizon system entering and possibly damaging the Comcast unit. This action isolates the home telephone wiring and makes it possible for all the phones in the home, including the alarm system, to function on the Comcast system. After some test calls the new Comcast telephone system worked fine. Now, would the alarm system work? A call to HM Security to notify them of an alarm system test was next. After the call I pushed the panic alarm button and it sounded for a few minutes. During the alarm test I tried to pick up the phone and was unable to place a call. This is normal during emergencies as the alarm system seizes the telephone lines so it can send its signal to the Security Office. The alarm system functioned as it was designed to do. After the alarm automatically stopped I called Security and they verified the alarm test signal was detected. That basically ended the installation. It took less than an hour. With Comcast Digital Voice all of the calling features, about a dozen total, such as caller ID, call waiting, 911 emergency calling, are available. You can still use your own personal greeting if desired. Another Comcast advantage is that if you are traveling and have access to a computer you can log into your Comcast Voice Mail account and actually listen to your home telephone messages. Turn off your home answering machine and after half a dozen rings or so, all unanswered calls are forwarded to Comcast. Welcome to this world of digital communications!
Comcast telephone service, which includes all local, regional, and long distance calling, can be as low as $19.99/M. Some additional charges such as taxes and fees, modem rental, etc. add around $10.00/M to the bill. A one time activation charge of $29.95 also applies. Since I’ve added Comcast telephone service the monthly cost of my Internet service dropped $10.00/M to $33.00/M. I’m a “Triple Play” customer (phone, Internet, and HD cable TV) so multiple promotional discounts are available.
As of this writing I’ve been very pleased with the quality, reliability, and cost of the Comcast phone service. Of course the noise and static from the old Verizon lines are gone. If you decide to join the ranks of digital telephone service just make sure your alarm system works properly after installation. It is possible that if you have an old style alarm system it may not work with Comcast Digital Voice. Important note: Comcast phone service also works fine with the visitor’s gate.
Check the Hershey’s Mill website at www.hersheysmill.org and click on Tech Tips. Here you will find previously categorized articles that have appeared in the TV-Guide that cover many subjects about computers.