Troubleshooting Your VoIP Phone Adapter (ATA)

Get your connection back quickly

If you use an analog telephone adapter and a subscription-based Voice-over-IP (VoIP) service for your business, you can save money. Most of the technical problems with this technology stem from the ATA, so that's the first place to look when troubleshooting.

For a good diagnosis, you need to understand what the lights on the ATA mean. The lights help you figure out what's going on. If they all work as they should, the problem is probably not with the ATA. In this case, check your phone, internet router or modem, connection, and computer configuration.

Problem: No Response From ATA

Check the lights on the adapter.

  • If all the lights are off, the adapter is not powered. Check the electrical plug or adapter. If the electrical connection is working but the adapter still does not respond, there's a power supply problem with the adapter.
  • A red or blinking power light indicates a failure of the adapter to initialize itself properly. Switch off the adapter, unplug it, wait a few seconds, then plug it in again and switch it on. It will reinitialize. Normally, the power light will be red for a few minutes and then turn green.
  • A solid red light can result from using the wrong type of electrical adapter.

Problem: No Dial Tone

If you pick up your phone and hear nothing, consider the following:

  • Plug the phone into the Phone 1 port of the ATA. A common mistake is to plug it into the Phone 2 port, leaving Phone 1 empty. You should use the Phone 2 port only if you have a second voice line or a fax line. To check, pick up the phone's handset and press Talk or OK. If you have a single phone and Phone 2 lights up, you plugged the phone jack into the wrong port.
  • Use the proper RJ-11 cord (commonly called a telephone jack). Check that it's well-seated in the port. When plugging it in, you should hear a click as the little plastic tongue on the side of the cord settles in. That tongue sometimes gets torn off, especially with frequent removal and insertion of the cord. If that happens, replace the cord.
  • Replace the RJ-11 cord. If the RJ-11 cord is old, it might not transmit data as it should. Again, replace it. These are inexpensive, and many ATA vendors ship two in the package.
  • Check the phone. The problem also might be in the phone set. Connect another phone and see if you get a dial tone.
  • Use the proper jack. Don't connect a phone used with a VoIP adapter to the PSTN wall jack, unless specified. You won't get a dial tone and could damage the equipment.
  • Check the Ethernet or internet connection. Particularly if the Ethernet/LAN connection light is off or red. (See the next step.)

Resetting your system (adapter, router, modem, and other components) can sometimes solve problems.

Problem: No Ethernet/LAN Connection

VoIP phone adapters connect to the internet through Ethernet/LAN using a cable router or modem, DSL router or modem, and RJ-45 cables and plugs. Any problem with this connection will cause the Ethernet/LAN light to be off or red. If that's the case:

  • Check the cable and its plug. Like the RJ-11 cord discussed previously, the RJ-45 plug should click when plugged into the Ethernet/LAN port.
  • Verify that you used a straight Ethernet cable, as opposed to a crossover cable. The difference is in the way the wires inside the cable (eight in all) are arranged. Look at them through the transparent jack. If the wires are arranged in the same color sequence, the cable is straight. Crossover cables have different color arrangements on the two ends.
  • Make sure you have an active internet connection. Check your router, modem, or LAN. Failure on this end means you'll have to troubleshoot your modem or router or contact your internet service provider.
  • Check the network configuration if your ATA is connected to a LAN. Many settings are involved, such as IP addresses and access rights. The network administrator of the LAN is the best person to help you.

Problem: Calls Go Directly to Voicemail Without Ringing Your Phone

In this scenario, the call is received but you don't pick it up because you don't hear a ring—so it goes to voicemail. To solve this problem:

  • Check your ringtone volume.
  • Check that your phone set is connected to the Phone 1 port.

Another possible problem: Your phone's loudspeaker, normally found inside the casing, is damaged or has a loose wire or failed welding.

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