How to Make Your VoIP Service (Vonage or similar) Available at Every Phone Jack in Your House

So you signed up with Vonage or another VoIP provider and are tired of having the phone in only one place in your house; by your router.  And you like your present phones fine and don't want to buy a cordless phone with several handsets.  Is it possible to make your VoIP service go to all the phone jacks in your house?  It sure is.  Here's how.

Don't get ahead of the instructions or you could fry your telephone adapter.

Your present house telephone wiring probably goes from the telephone company's Network Interface (gray box on the side of your house) daisy chained to each phone jack in the house.  There is no need to make a loop back to the Network Interface and it is actually better if you do not "home run" the wire from each jack back to the NI.  So there is just one cable (with several wires in it for more than one line) running from the phone company to your phones and each phone only uses two wires.

If you think about it, there's nothing different about having a stretch of wire going to the phone company or a stretch of wire going to your VoIP telephone adapter.

Connecting VoIP Service to Line 1 and Dropping Your Landline From the Phone Company

First let's talk about a house that presently has phone company service consisting of one telephone line (one phone number) that you want to convert to VoIP, canceling your landline service.  (Think about how reliable your ISP is before you do this.  Do you have a cell phone for backup?)  You could drop your landline if you have broadband Internet service by some means other than DSL.  If you have DSL you must keep a landline because phone company workers, when they need a new pair of wires to go to a house because of a broken wire, will listen for a dial tone.  If there's no dial tone there they think the wires are unused and they'll inadvertently disconnect you and use the wires for the repair.

So you have cable Internet or fiber optic like FiOS from Verizon.  You have installed your telephone adapter and it works.  (Wait to cancel your landline service until after you determine the new setup is working.)  If the wiring in your house remains connected to the phone company's system, voltage on the line will damage your VoIP telephone adapter so we must disconnect at the Network Interface.  Use a tool to open this box.  Inside you will find a small cable with four to eight colored wires in it.  We need to disconnect ALL the wires coming into the box from all the wires going into the house.  Disconnect everything and tape the ends so they can't touch, then close the box.  You are finished outside.

Now you can run a phone cable (any two-wire phone cord will do in this example) from your telephone adapter to a nearby jack.  You are finished!

Keeping Your Landline on Line 1 and Adding VoIP Service to Line 2

I already had several two-line phones, but had dropped service on my second line so I wanted to put my VoIP line on one of the other Lines in the house wiring. 

Telephones need two wires to work.  Here is a chart of the standard colors used inside a house (not a phone cord) for lines 1, 2, 3 and 4 in the US.  The first color is the predominant color of the wire.  Thus White/Blue means a white wire with a blue stripe.  Blue/White means a blue wire with a white stripe.

Standard 4-Pair Wiring
Color codes
Pair 1 T
Pair 2 T
Pair 3 T
Pair 4 T
NOTE:For 6-wire jacks use pair 1, 2 and 3 color codes.
For 4-wire jacks use pair 1 and 2 color codes.

Most phone plugs have room for more wires than are actually there so you'll find connections with no wire.  In eight-wire cable the four pairs of wires are arranged like this, 4 3 2 1 1 2 3 4 with the numbers representing Lines 1, 2, 3 and 4.  They work from the center out on both sides.

Your single landline will connect to your blue wires.  Since we are going to keep landline service on Line 1 do not disconnect those wires at your Network Interface, but make very sure that none of the others is connected.  Disconnect and tape any orange, green or brown wires.

You can see how many lines a phone, phone jack or patch cord is set up for by looking inside its plug and counting the little gold wires sticking up, two per line.  If there are two wires in the center you have a one-line device.  If there are four, it's two lines, etc.  I have seen four-line wall jacks that only had one or two pairs of wires connected to the back, although the house was cabled with 8-wire cable.  If things don't work when you're done, take the jacks out and inspect.

Your telephone adapter almost certainly outputs on Line 1.  This means you have some choices to make.  If you leave the phone company's line on Line 1, you will have VoIP on every 2-line phone, but not the others.  If you change the phone company to Line 2, you will have VoIP everywhere, but will only be able to answer incoming calls on the landline at one-line phones.  I chose to put VoIP on Line 2.

That means I needed to connect the telephone adapter's Line 1 to the house wiring's Line2.  This is easier done than you'd think and not only allows you to continue taking incoming landline calls on any phone, but makes things a lot easier for the next owner who will be left with a standard setup when you move and take your equipment with you.

Home Depot sells a plastic pliers-like device that strips phone wire and attaches plastic connectors to the ends.  It's about $10 and the bag of connectors isn't much.  Phone wire is generally flat with the wires side-by-side.  If you slide the stripped ends straight into the connector it will be properly wired.  But you also can use these to make a phone cord that reverses Lines 1 and 2.  Line 1 comes into the cord on the center pair and leaves on the next wires outboard.  You just move the wires to their (im)proper places when attaching a connector.  I've made several of these wires and they're very handy (like for putting my fax machine on Line 2 in the past or for sending Line 2's Caller ID signal to a Caller ID box that only handles Line 1).

Since you want to isolate the phone company's voltage from the telephone adapter, don't connect all the wires, four typically.  Just connect the center pair to one end and attach that pair to the positions for Line 2 at the other end.  Phone cords, by the way are colored differently.  Here's a chart:

Jack Lead Colors
Pin # Jack Type

8P8C Keyed
1 Blue(L) White(W) Orange(O)
2 Orange(O) Black(B) Green(G)
3 Black(B) Red(R) Red(R)
4 Red(R) Green(G) Yellow(Y)
5 Green(G) Yellow(Y) Black(B)
6 Yellow(Y) Blue(L) Brown(N)
7 Brown(N) - -
8 White(W) - -

Note that Pins 4 and 5 are Line 1 and 3 and 6 are Line 2, etc.  When you make your reversed cord you'll want to connect the red and green wires on one end to Pins 4 and 5, and those same wires to Pins 3 and 6 on the other end.  Now you're feeding Voip to Line 2 from your telephone adapter and the phone company's landline to Line 1 from the Network interface.  Everyone already has your landline number and incoming calls on that line can be answered on Line 1 which goes to all phones.  Your VoIP line can be used for outgoing calls which you can make from your two-line phones.

If your confidence in your ISP's service merits it and you decide to drop the landline, you can switch VoIP to Line 1 by disconnecting the blue wires at the Network Interface and substituting a normal cord for your reversed one.

Reversed cords are useful for displaying Caller ID information from Line 2 on a box that only accepts Line 1.  Big Lots had Caller ID boxes for $3 each so I put two on each desk in our study and used reversed cords to connect the VoIP line to the second boxes.  Now Caller ID 1 displays Line 1 and Caller ID 2 displays Line 2.

All this can result in a tangle of wires.  Twist ties do a good job of neatening things up.

If you sign up with Verizon's fiber optic service for Internet, phone and/or television, they will install an Actiontec router.  My Linksys telephone adapter no longer worked right.  Here are instructions on how to set it up so everything works properly.