2 Oct 2010

Interconnecting Cordless Phones

Cordless telephone sets are a common feature in most homes. But very few people know that majority modern sets are capable of working with each other. This little known detail can help save money or simply expand the number of handsets on your existing set. And most importantly, since you are re-using old equipment - its good for the environment!

Difficulty Level: Low.

cordless phone
For instance, until recently I had a Phillips cordless home phone with 2 handsets. I upgraded to a new Panasonic cordless phone which came with two handsets of it’s own. Normally, I would either throw or re-sell my old set once the new one is up and running. But what if there is a way if I can use my old handsets with my new phone set? The good news is that it is!

The little-known technology that makes this possible is called DECT (short for Digital Enhanced Cordless Technology). According to Wikipedia, “DECT is a digital communication standard that is mainly used by cordless phone systems” (see full article).

This means that phones that designed conform to the DECT standard can be used with each other. This is fairly common in models manufactured in Europe (where the standard originated), Asia, Australia, etc. A specific part of this standard – GAP (short for Generic Access Profile) describes how the “portable part of the phone” i.e. the handset should communicate with the non-portable part i.e. the base unit. It is this specific part of technology that is most important for us.

In a nutshell, if a telephone set is “GAP Standard compliant” you should be able to use different handsets, no matter what their make, to register to a base unit from pretty much any other manufacturer.

A quick look through your telephone set’s manual will reveal whether your cordless telephone set is compliant. Look for a Chapter or a section on “Using Gap Compliance”. If it has one, all you need to do is “register” your old handsets with your new base unit.  Remember to check for the maximum number of handsets your new base unit can accommodate.  Alternatively, you may want to keep this in mind the next time you purchase a new cordless phone set.

Here’s what you will find yourself typically doing:
  1. Press and hold down the “Paging” button on your base unit for a couple of seconds. This is the base unit that is connected to your telephone line.
  2. Steps from this point on need to be completed pretty quickly – typically within a minute. Find and use the “Register” function in the menu of the handset you are trying to register. This should typically be under “Advanced Settings”.
  3. You should also expect to enter a “Master PIN code” to complete the registration process.

    Note: This PIN is the one that was set using the handset of the Base Unit. If you didn’t set one, the telephone set manual should also tell you the default the phone uses. If not, if should also tell you the process of resetting your phone to the factory default.
If you have done everything right, the handset should register with your new base unit. Your handset should usually beep a couple of times. You should also see a new handset number on the display. My handset, for example, shows the number three because it’s the third handset to be registered with the base.

This newly registered handset should now allow you to make and receive calls. But it may not provide any set specific functions such as managing voice-mails, etc. But I simply use one of my new handsets to do this.

Summing it all up

The next time you buy yourself a cordless telephone set make sure
  • You look for one that is compliant with DECT and GAP standards
  • And allows you to register 4 or more handsets
I hope you found this little tip in this longish article useful. Please let me know if you spot any errors or improvements.

Please do let me know if you found this useful :-)