Why won't my landline phone ring when someone calls me?

Callers tell you the phone just rings and rings or they hear a recording or fax tones. Meanwhile, on your end, your phone doesn't ring at all. Clearly there's a problem.

There are a number of things you can check to solve this problem.

There are some common and easy-to-fix problems you can check:

  • Check your ringer — has it been turned off?

  • Change the batteries on your cordless phone.

  • If you are a Pure Broadband customer and only have our internet service, then you may have a dial tone, but you do not have true telephone service. You cannot get calls on Pure Broadband lines.

  • If you're behind on your bill payments, your account could be suspended. You may still have a dial tone, but that's about it. At some point, your account will be permanently disconnected, and you won't have any dial tone. You can get your service restored.

  • If you put a hold on your account because you went away for a few months — and now are back — people won't be able to call you until you reactivate your service. Contact us and we can help.

  • A satellite receiver can cause callers to hear fax tones. Try unplugging the receiver from the phone line and retesting. If the problem goes away, the issue is the receiver, and you need to contact your satellite TV provider to get it fixed.

  • Check the weather next time you experience this problem. Electrical storms, heavy precipitation, excessively strong winds and other inclement weather can interfere with phone reception — particularly if you're using a cordless phone. If this problem only happens when the weather is foul, try again when the storm has passed or switch to a corded phone.

  • Other home equipment can interfere with your service. Check if your computer modem, caller ID box, fax machine or alarm/security system are preventing people from calling you. 

Are you sure you have working service getting to your home? Test it at your home's network box (sometimes called the "network interface device" or NID).

  • The network box connects the telephone network to the wiring inside your home. It's where our outside wiring meets your inside wiring.

  • These boxes are usually about 6" by 9" and gray, attached to the outside of your home near your electric meter and other utility connections. If you don't see it outside, it could be in your basement or attic.

Note: If you live in an apartment, ask your building manager for access; you may have a test jack inside your unit. If you live in a mobile home, the network box may be attached to a pole on your lot.

Phone plugging into filter (diagram)

Outdoor network box

Phone plugging into filter (diagram)

Indoor network box

Test for service at the network box

  1. Use a screwdriver to open the cover marked "Customer Access."
  2. Remove the plug from the test jack.
  3. Plug a working, corded telephone into the test jack.

If you DON'T hear a dial tone or the tone is faint, unclear or intermittent at the network box, then the problem is with our equipment. Request a repair visit through the Troubleshooter, and we will send out a technician. You will not be charged for the technician's visit.

If you DO hear a clear dial tone at the network box, that means there is a problem with your inside wiring or equipment. Refer to the next section on checking equipment for damage.

A problem with your phone, cords or jacks could be why calls aren't reaching you. There are some fairly easy ways to check the equipment inside your home:

  • Does your phone get noisy when your move the cord? If so, check that the cord is snug, both going into the handset and into the wall jack.

  • Check your phone cords for damage. Even small nicks and cuts can cause noise on your line. Replace any damaged cords.

  • If the problem only happens with one phone, try plugging a different phone into the jack and place a call from the new phone to see if the issue is resolved.

  • If you have internet service, unplug your modem and then check if you still have noise on your line. If you don't hear noise when you disconnect your modem, the problem could be with your DSL filters. Examine your filters to make sure they're connected and installed correctly.

To test your jacks:

  1. Unplug your phone from both the jack and electrical outlet.

  2. Unplug any other equipment from that same jack.

  3. After you've unplugged all your equipment, wait 1 minute and then plug in a corded phone.

You should hear a clear, strong dial tone when you test each jack. If you don't, and no other equipment is plugged in, you may have a problem with your inside wiring. Learn how to get your inside wiring repaired.

If you do hear a clear, strong tone, then continue to plug in additional equipment, one thing at a time, and listen each time. When you hear the noise again, you'll know you've either reached the maximum capacity for that line or the last piece of equipment you connected is causing interference. Try moving that equipment to a different line. If you're finding interference but don't want to unplug the offending piece of equipment, try installing a radio suppresser or radio/noise filter on your line. 

If people report getting a recorded message when they call your number, they may be hearing a message associated with one of your calling features.

The party you are calling does not accept blocked calls. If you are calling from a blocked number, hang up, press *82 and redial.

  • Callers get this message if you have Anonymous Call Rejection turned on.
  • Anonymous Call Rejection blocks calls from private and anonymous numbers.
  • Callers who don't unblock their number cannot call you unless you turn this feature off.

Your call has been completed. However, the party you are calling is not receiving calls at this time.

  • Callers hear this message if you have Call Curfew turned on.
  • This feature blocks all incoming and outgoing calls during certain times of the day.
  • Unless callers are on your "authorized caller list," they cannot get through to you during those hours.

Learn more about calling features that block calls and how to manage them. 

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