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How to move regular RJ-11 office telephone extensions from office to office?

Hello experts,

I do not know one thing really about telephones and lines.  I want to learn though.  Right now, our company contracts out with another company to come in and do our extension swaps and installation of new telephone ports, etc... We do a lot of office changes and phone switching and I'd like to learn how to do this myself so we don't have to keep paying someone to do this every time we want to change offices.  There is a jack that we need to put a phone and extension in.  I have the extension and it is not being used right now and I also have the phone, but where do I go to "install" this extension to that port?  Is it incredibly hard to learn and not worth it to learn how to do it?  We have traditional phones.  They are not VOIP phones.  They are standard "paired" RJ-11 phone cables and we use a Toshiba handset and base.  When I look at our telecom closets and our DMARC room, I get a headache looking at all the wires involved with the phone system, but I'd like to understand how this all works.  Any suggestions where to start?  Or can someone tell me how to do these extension location moves?  Thanks in advance.
Brent Johnson
Brent Johnson
1 Solution
make a note of the port where the phone is currently plugged in and then make a note of the port where the phone is needing to be relocated to.

then in your comms cabinet move the cabled form the current port number to the relocated port number, then move the handset.

Brian UtterbackPrinciple Software EngineerCommented:
It pretty much depends on how you location is wired. Typically you have the phone lines coming from the PBX which goes to a punch-down box. This box then has wires that go from it to the box where the individual offices are cabled. When adding a new extension, you need to cable to office port to a PBX line. That usually means adding (or changing) wires from the port to the punch-down box. Sometimes that is done via a patch cable, and sometimes it is done with a "punch-down" tool, which is used to force the sires between a series of little metal blades that automatically puncture the insulation and make contact with the metal conductor in the wire.

This process is not hugely difficult, but it is not something you are going to learn here. There is enough variation in layouts that it would be almost impossible to give you step by step info, and if you do it wrong at best it won't work, but you might also loosen other wires. And it would be very bad to get the ringer current down the wrong connection.

You might find some books about it in the library.
Brent JohnsonAuthor Commented:
Where are these port numbers located on the panels in the switch rooms?

Also, what if the extension that I want to use is currently not being used, and thus, not labeled?  How do I locate it?
Brian UtterbackPrinciple Software EngineerCommented:
That is the kind of information that is specific to your location and equipment. If you are lucky, then the office ports and PBX ports are labeled. You could try to find a known office and extension and try to trace the wires back.

To get an idea of what the punch down box looks like and what you are looking for, you could look at this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjDVPXlCj18
In most cases, there is a dedicated combination of hardware/software (beyond the actual wiring) - commonly referred to as a PBX system (PBX is actually the technology that connects internal extensions to outside numbers, but this is how they are commonly discussed).  Most likely, extension assignment/relocation requires "re-programming" the switch vs. actually moving any wiring (though both may be required).

Do you know what brand of PBX you are using (e.g., Avaya, Cisco, Nortel)?  Documentation from the supplier would be the best place to start.  However, I will warn that documentation typically presumes quite a bit of existing knowledge about concept and terminology.  Telecom tends to be a fairly specialized field with its own "language".

Additionally, security of the phone switch is typically closely guarded, especially if the equipment is hosted or leased.  Your provider may be unwilling to allow you access.

All that said, the most important question is, Is your management team behind the decision to "in-house" some of this administration?  There can be significant risk and complications resulting from improper configuration.  But if your management team is behind you, I'd start by requesting training through your current service provider.  They'll expect to be paid most likely, but if positioned that you're going to obtain the training one way or another, most should be open to some type of structured arrangement (i.e., we'll do this, but you will do that).

Cost of training should be compared to on-going service call cost and frequency.  E.g., Assuming an avg cost of $150 per extension configuration, it'll take 10 extension changes to break-even on a $1500 training cost.  After that, every extension change represents a potential savings.  I say "potential", because it's important to realize that for every extension change you make and the training to allow you to make those changes, that's time you won't be applying to your primary responsibilities.  Depending on what you do, you may be further ahead paying an outside agency for these "incidental" changes.

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