December 16, 2008


One of the places I work moved across the street to an older place twice the size and the same rent.  It seemed like a smart move for the owners.  What they failed to notice and mention to me was that there was no phone infrastructure.  I think it's rare to find a building in a downtown that has no phone wire whatsoever.

The DSL was activated and phone cable run to the outside of the building in a fancy new gray box and that was it.  The repair man offered to run it inside for an extra $150. They said no thanks because they thought I could do it.

And I could.  
I was called frantically in the middle of the morning at my other job asking if I could come fix the situation.  Having no wire strippers or any phone tools I arrived. I used cat5 cable and ran a length to the wiring area in the back by my repair desk.  Phones only use 1 pair of cables but usually 2 pair are present I think as a backup. Cat5 brings 4 pair, allowing for an additional 3 lines if that need arises in the future.

The only tool I had was my leatherperson mini.  This is a key chain sized tool that is rusty, sticky and has notches in every sharp edged tool.  I have it always.  Using the small scissors I was able to strip the wires and curve them so they'd seat and wire in well. I matched both sides, after checking both sides several times to fix broken wires bent from poor stripping on my part everything worked!

My boss was relieved but was less impressed than I.  Didn't they realize I'd brought their business to life using a 2" 2oz tool and a bit of know how?

I had in fact done this with exactly those tools. It made me think of the phone company. They had it made.  They had infrastructure that rarely needed upgrading, a simple technology that isn't patented by anyone,  easy to install and requires very little maintenance and no competition.  
For decades these companies have sucked out monthly fees from almost %100 of the population. They grew fat with mirth at the ease of the industry they captained.  Even when they were busted up for monopolizing the game didn't really change that much; they were all friends still.

Thankfully Internet is giving them a run for their money.


Jay Bazuzi said...

Old-style phone wires had 4 conductors (red, green, black, yellow) so you could put two phone lines on them.

Today there's almost no reason to use that kind of wire behind the wall: better to use Cat5 or better, and pick one pair for a phone line, like you did.

Jay Bazuzi said...

Oh, and well done.

Anonymous said...

Nice work. :) I'm so glad the mini is so useful for you!