Awhile back I installed a caller ID program on my computer, IdentaPop, which
worked great for awhile. Since then I have added other fax machines and
assorted devices to the same phone line, none of which I can do without.
Apparently these devices are causing the caller id info to not be read by
the software. The other caller id boxes in the house continue to work fine.
I understand that there is a limit to the number of devices that a phone
line can support.
My question is: Is there anything I can do to increase the number of
devices that my phone line can support?
Have you checked with the software company that furnishes IdentaPop? The
same information is in the data on the phone call, regardless of how many
devices are on it. The software should still work. I would suggest trying
some experiments such as removing devices one at a time until the software
works again. I have a feeling it is not related. I assume you have restarted
the IdentaPop, and or rebooted your computer to make sure things are running
Let us know how it goes.
If per chance you are in the DFW area, I wouldn't mind helping you out on
this. I love mysteries.
Some FAX machines may answer the call and only pass through calls to a
separate jack on the FAX machine if the call is not a FAX. This depends on
the settings on the FAX machine.
Is your computer connected directly to the phone line or to a jack on the
Well, after posting the first message here, I did some snooping around and
found that there is a limit to the amount of REN (Ringer Equivilance
Number) that a line can carry. Each phone device lists it's REN on the FCC
decal on the back. (I didn't know any of this until today) You just add up
all the RENs on your devices and get a total. I think the maximum per line
is usually around 4 or 5 REN total for a line but I havent checked with my
local phone company yet to see what they recommend/allow. The phone co. may
also have a solution for when a line carries more REN than normally allowed.
The very interesting response to my first post by TURTLE mentions something
like this. I'm going to call them about this too.
I added up the RENs on all my devices and have a total of 3.5 REN plus
whatever REN is on my 2 WinModems. (I'm still checking on them.) That puts
me pretty close or over the 4 or 5 REN limit. I have disabled some of the
higher REN devices and it seemed to help. I also upgraded the software,
which also helped. I've also emailed IdentaPop tech support and will
probably get a response from them soon. There tech support is pretty quick
Some of the RENs were much higher than others. And one, on my main speaker
phone/ message recorder, a very nice Lucent Tech phone, it says very plainly
that it has a REN of 0.0. The two cheapo bedside phones each have a REN of
0.9. The Fax machine, a Brother MFC 8500 (very nice machine too) is 0.2. It
seems the cheaper the device, the higher the REN. The only exception to this
is the DirecTV receiver, a high end Samsung HD reciever, has a 0.9 REN. I
don't think the modems in these Sat receivers do very much so they are
probably very cheap.
I may have to ditch the two cheap phones and get some with lower REN
numbers. I've become very attached to this caller ID software and become
very disturbed when it fails to work. This particular program is very nice
in that the name and number pop up on top of the screen in large letters for
a few seconds then disappears. It doesn't interfere with anything and
requires no action from me. No clicking on anything.
Thanks for your help and interest in this. I am not in the DFW area. I am in
the NOBR area. (That would be New Orleans Baton Rouge )
My next move is to ask the phone company if there is anything they can do,
like they did for TURTLE, if I have used up all my REN ! ! !
Turtle may have been on a marginal line. When he complained, they
probably either fixed a cable problem or shifted him to a new cable
On a normal dial line, there usually isn't any such device that allows
your "power" to be turned up. Sometimes, if you're on the edge of the
range of your local switch, the telco will install a range extender,
which is another possibility in Turtle's case.
Usually REN only comes into play with ringing voltage. Too many REN,
and the phones don't ring. But it can affect caller id as well. You
have so many devices, you're probably pulling the level of the caller
id burst way down.
Since your other caller id devices continued to work, there is still
the possibility that this problem is related to the software, or the
modem's ability to read the CID data unless it's at a high level. The
stand alone CID displays may be more tolerant of different data
levels, unlike the modem.
Let us know what the phone company says.
Also note the sat modem can be disconnected except for an hour or so a
month. It is only used to upgrade encription now and then and for
order/payment of Pay for view etc. Just put a switch in the phone cord
for when needed.
This is Turtle.
I'm not a phone man worker or nothing but I did have trouble with too many
phone on my house one time and call the phone company and they went and done
something at the pole and maybe put something on it. They also done
something at the box on the side of the house. all my phones got good as
gold. It has been some time but i think he said he put something up there
and things got real good.
Just a phone user.
just looked my self on my cordless phone the REN is 0B what does the B
stand for or how do I use it to add into the total number. reason this
interests me is my parrents have dishnetwork 500 pvr box for there tv. it
has a built in caller id feature . the first box they recieved caller id
worked fine for about 3 months. then stopped dish network sends out a second
box caller id feature doesnt work but maybe evry 20'th call on there fifth
box now local dish people have been by ,then people rite from dishnetwork
none can get it working they say its a ground problem , so one guy runnes a
ground around all tv compnnents and bonds everything to homes main ground
still nothing. the main phone in the house has caller id that works all the
time and the other tv id works, just the tv with the pvr box .the dish
people are out of ideas and say they can break there contract without
penelty becouse the system doesnt wor completely.
On advice of some article long ago, we turned off all the ringers except
on two phones. Still can hear it ring anywhere in the house. Have full
time fax machine, distinctive ring, 4 hard wired phones, two portable
base units. No problem. Don't use caller ID so don't know if that would
be a problem, but all the combined REN numbers would probably exceed the
limit , so cutting off the ringer must be the way to go.
The REN for any POTS line is 5.0; more of a load than this can cause erratic
signalling behavior on any device on that line. Add up the RENs for all
devices on the same line to check this. Look on the bottom or in the manual,
fed law requires the mfr give you this.
I'm guessing you have a multi-tap thing with everything around your PC desk
plugged into it. If so, try a Y splitter farther back in the line, and make
sure your modem is the only thing on that particular leg of the splitter. If
Alt: Cut your PC area down to a single line port, and then find out what you
really need and what you really can't do without on a piece-by-piece basis.
You'd be surprised; why have a fax machine when you can have fax software?
Painter (used to be a Phoner)
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