Mar 11

IP Phone may have power, but it doesn’t mean it’s connected to the network.

Last week I had one of the phone techs come to my desk and ask me to check the configuration on a switch port. He was setting up an IP Phone for a user at a new desk and the phone powered on but would not register with Call Manager. I checked the switch port, the configuration was correct, but the port was down. To double check the port, I went to the closet with the tech to make sure we were looking at the correct port. After confirming we were looking at the correct port, we headed to the desk.

When I arrived at the desk, the IP Phone had lights illuminated with an error of “Network Not Available”. I suggested that the tech replace the CAT5 jumper at the desk to see if that would resolve the issue, it did. With a new patch cable, the IP Phone powered up and registered with Call Manager.

So why did a new CAT5 patch cable fix the problem?

CAT5 has 4 pair of wires inside of it. 10/100 Ethernet uses pins 1,2,3,6 Ethernet (Data). Power Over Ethernet (PoE) uses pins 4,5,7,8 to power the end device.

In this case, the IP Phone used 100BASE-T, so one or more of pins 1,2,3 or 6 were damaged while 4,5,7 and 8 worked fine.

The troubleshooting steps that the tech went through were correct.
– Phone powered up, but wouldn’t register.
– Switch port was enabled, but didn’t look configured
– Switch port was configured correctly.
– Had to be a cable issue, or a phone issue

By understanding how the basics of PoE worked, I was able to easily identify the best action to troubleshoot the issue. After confirming the configuration was correct, I was able to easily troubleshoot the issue.

Understanding the basic foundations of the technology that you use can really reduce the time it takes to troubleshoot. There are many resources on how PoE works, here is the resource I used to identify what pins are used in the CAT5 cable for PoE. There is a nice chart towards the bottom of the page.

Have you run into this PoE issue on a PoE device?
Do you have any good stories to share about a co-worker not understanding the basics of a technology they are using?

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Feb 04

Always measure before running your data cables!!!

I got the request for 5 new data drops for a new system in a warehouse. I was directed to have a vendor come in and run the new data lines from an existing switch. The distance looked fine, but I was skeptical about the distance. I used a measuring wheel to measure the distance. After walking 300ft (100M), I stopped and started measuring to another switch, same problem, it was too far.

Due to the distance, we ordered a switch, cabinet, power outlet and a fiber run. The cost on these data connections went way up due to distance to the closest switch.

If I wouldn’t have measured the distance with a measuring wheel the vendor would have come out and run the data lines (CAT5). The distance would have been around 400ft and they wouldn’t have worked. After finding out that the data lines were too long, I would have had to start the process of ordering a switch, cabinet, power outlet and a fiber run.

By measuring the distance, I was able to install the appropriate equipment in a timely manor. I saved the company time and money.

Always measure your cable runs so you don’t wast time and money having to do them over when they are too long!!!

Tell us a time where you stepped in and saved a project!!!
Share a time where planning wasn’t so good and you had to come up with an alternate solution after you already paid for a solution!!!

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