How to Install a Phone Line

A simple, safe project that saves money.

| March/April 1984

On January 1, 1984, Bell Telephone (dear old Ma Bell) ceased to exist. Taking its place is an array of smaller companies that serve particular regions . . . in much the same fashion as was done back in the early days of "wired" communication. And, for all of us phone users, this breakup has several important consequences.

For one, we're nearly being forced to buy our own telephones. Oh sure, the old leasing arrangements are still being offered by AT&T, but the company seems to be doing its best to discourage such contracts by pricing them out of the market.

In fact, you don't have to use involved mathematics to figure out that you can pay for the retail price of a new phone with a little more than one year's worth of rental fees. Fortunately for those of us who are willing to purchase and learn how to install a phone, this new deal can be a real windfall. You see, for the first time, we'll be getting phone bills that don't include leasing fees. 

Hidden Charges

However, should you decide to buy your own phone and let the experts do the installation, you'll likely be in for a bit of a surprise. Beyond the standard hookup fee—which has always been around and will continue—"Son" or "Daughter" Bell is now permitted to charge you for coming into your home to wire or plug your telephone into the company's connection box.

Under the new guidelines, the firm's responsibility ends at its connector box. And the normal installation charge covers placing one such box at your residence, and that's all. The service fee for actually wiring your phones into it can run an additional $50 to $150!

Thanks be, you can do the installation work yourself. The same new rules that permit the phone company to charge for such a service also allow you to get along without their "personal" touch. Better yet, it's not difficult at all: I'm willing to bet that most anyone who's ever used a screwdriver can hook up a telephone!

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