How do I Add Multiple Phones with VoIP

Are thinking about getting VoIP, but you are wondering how you can have several phones scattered around your house when you just have one VoIP connection? The days of people having just one phone in the house are disappearing (I have one in the kitchen, living room, bedroom and one lost somewhere in the house, maybe in the couch!). Well, there are some options you’ll be pleased to hear.

The following provides four possibilities for adding multiple phones onto your VoIP service. Depending on your individual requirements and situation, one may be more applicable than the others.

  1. One simple method is by using a multiple jack extension connector. You can plug this into your VoIP Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA) and this will allow you to have multiple phones on one line. However, the limitation with this is that the phone connections are still at the location of your ATA device. This is a simple solution but not very flexible if you want to distribute your phones throughout your home.
  2. Digital cordless phone systems are a great option for distributing your VoIP throughout your home. Digital cordless phone systems are commonplace in homes these days with 900MHz, 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz versions available. They are also very low cost and can be picked up at places such as Costco and can usually be expanded later should you need additional phones. Cordless phone systems come with a base unit (also referred to as a Base Station by some phone suppliers) that plugs directly into your VoIP ATA. The additional cordless (also sometimes referred to as wireless) handsets can then be placed anywhere in your home, distributing your phone service to wherever you need it. The great thing about this option is that if you already have cordless phones then you are ready to go and do not need to buy any additional hardware. For more information check out our article on portable VoIP phones.
  3. A variation on the cordless phone idea is to use wireless phone jacks. A base unit connects directly to your ATA. Then, wireless jacks can be used that plug into your household electrical outlets in the locations where you want your additional phones. You can then connect each of your additional phones to a wireless jack and voila, you have your phone service available anywhere in your home that you want it. However, this option does not seem to be very popular, likely because of the low prices found on cordless phone systems these days.
  4. Many people have used their existing telephone wiring and telephone extensions in their home to distribute VoIP throughout the home. Be warned though, you cannot just plug your VoIP ATA phone line straight into a phone jack in your home. The traditional copper landlines carry a voltage on its wires, used to make your telephone ‘ring’ when someone calls you. It is also used to power your phone and because the line is always live, it means you can make calls even during power outages. These voltages can potentially damage your VoIP equipment if you are not careful. Also, be aware that this voltage is present on the lines EVEN if you no longer have a landline phone service. The way people have avoided this is to disconnect their landline phone wiring at the Demarcation Point in their Network Interface Device (NID, typically a grey or black box located on the outside of your house). Once the existing phone line to the home has been disconnected, the VoIP ATA phone line can be plugged directly into one of the existing phone extensions inside the home. This will then distribute VoIP to all other phone extensions in the home that are wired to that phone extension. You can then plug your phones in anywhere you have a phone jack in your home. If you decide to do this it is highly recommended that you seek advice from an electrician or someone who is familiar with internal telephone wiring. It is also advised that you pre-check the wiring on the phone jacks to make sure you don't have live PSTN voltage on the jacks before connecting them to the ATA. A simple telephone line tester device can be used for this purpose. Also keep in mind that your VoIP service will not work during a power outage. If this is an issue for you, make sure you either have a backup cell phone or purchase an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS). The UPS will provide battery backup for your ATA and Internet modem during power outages and thus allow you to make and receive calls. A UPS can be purchased for less than $50 from Amazon.

Well, we hope this helps provide some useful options for enabling multiple phones to be used with VoIP. There are probably other methods out there that may suit your needs too but the options above tend to be the most common ones used.

If you have any questions feel free to ask us using the comment form below. We are always prompt at answering questions from our visitors.

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WhichVoIP Visitor Comments

#18 : Posted by Frankie

I have one landline phone, can I use different extension number let say #1 me #2 wife #3 son

-> Response: For residential service normally you only have one extension. Businesses usually have multiple extensions for each phone but you pay for each one. If you have a cordless set you could intercom between each handset though.


#17 : Posted by Mike Rabin

I have always had WIRED LANDLINE phone service in my home, and am thinking of switching to digital phone service. I know NOTHING about digital, but have the impression that a "central" digital installation is plugged into my internet modem. If that is the case, what happens to my FOUR EXTENSION PHONES in other rooms than that central digital installation? I.e, with the phone jacks in the walls in the other rooms NOT receiving phone signals anymore (when I switch to digital), how DO they receive phone service, when the extension phones are as much as 25 feet from the room where the digital phone installation is plugged into my internet modem? (By the way, I have NO IDEA what "VolP" is!)

-> Response: Most people will use cordless phone systems for this very reason so you can still have multiple phones scattered across your home. Alternatively you can follow the advice in the article regarding the demarcation point at the house to isolate the external landline from your home and then use the VoIP adapter the VoIP company ships you to connect to the jacks in the house. I personally don't like that as it is riskier and often the adapter only has enough drive in it for a few phones. So most scenarios connect the VoIP adapter to your Internet modem and a wire to your cordless base and then use cordless devices across the house.


#16 : Posted by Alice

How do I disconnect my verizon fios coming into my house now that I use Spectrum VOIP so I can use my existing phone jacks for additional phones? I see the old wiring in the demarcation box but there is other wiring when verizon put in FIOS.

-> Response: It's a tough one to answer without seeing pictures. Also keep in mind that the ATA adapter that Spectrum likely supplied typically only has enough power to drive a few phones so this could be problematic even if you do figure out the wiring. My recommendation is to just use a cordless system instead of using the internal wiring.


#15 : Posted by Sam T Hamra Md

I need 7 phones in my 2 story house. Cordless phones seem to be the answer. Do I buy the cordless phones separately or is there a package to get it all with one company?

-> Response: I would just buy the cordless phones from somewhere such as Costco and then connect the base to the adapter you will be shipped by your service provider.


#14 : Posted by Eric

3.5 acres with 3 buildings. Had everything hard wired to the ATA but lightning kept killing them (all wire was buried). Now using an ATA in each building on one network which is connected from building to building via a great wireless system, even video streaming works great. Problem is, I can call out from any building but lately I have stopped receiving calls or just not in the building that has the ringing phone. Any ideas?

-> Response: It sounds like maybe your VoIP provider is not supporting multiple registrations for incoming calls. In other words each ATA is acting as the same extension and successfully registering with the provider's servers. They are allowing you to make calls from any ATA but for incoming calls they are sending the call only to the first ATA that was registered.
You could test this by turning off two of the ATA devices and calling in from a cell phone. Do this for each building and verify that each test call works. If so then you need to talk to your provider as they may be able to fix this for you. If not I think you need each ATA set up as its own extension and a ring group for inbound calls that calls all three. This is more like a business feature though.


#13 : Posted by Miriam

How can I use a cordless phone answering machine/base unit in the kitchen on the first floor when the VoIP connection is in the modem in the basement?

-> Response: When people do this they normally use a VoIP provider that has the Voicemail stored in the cloud and accessible from ANY cordless phone i.e. no need for an answering machine as the VoIP provider does this for you. Since all cordless phones can then access the voicemail, you can place the base in the basement and have a cordless handset in the kitchen.


#12 : Posted by Fred

At present my internet server buys bandwidth from a bigger company sells it at a cheaper price. My phone at present is with the bigger company that is ripping me off big time. I want VOIP so I will have my server still. It comes into the house downstairs, I have a filter and it goes to my modem/router and WiFi to the upstairs. Phones as I understand the master phone would have to be in the downstairs (NO) I don't want it there also I have one special phone for hearing impaired. I want to know how I can get this special phone hooked up upstairs and the master WiFi phone to be upstairs too.

-> Response: You could look at a WiFi Adapter that converts WiFi to wired Ethernet (under $30 on Amazon) and then connect that upstairs to the VoIP ATA (using wired Ethernet cable). The ATA then connects to your special phone using a regular telephone cable.


#11 : Posted by Steven R. Peters

So there is no reason a conventional base counter top phone - plugged into a VoIP ATA - cannot have extension phones around the house?

-> Response: Yes that's definitely possible. As per the article you just have to know what you're doing with regards the demarcation point. Unless using cordless phones in which case it's really easy.


#10 : Posted by Gailan Kester

How does the VOIP system work when the house is wired for 7 landlines phones?

-> Response: The adapter that the provider sends can drive a number of phones but 7 may be too many. Most people that need this many phones just use cordless phones and the adapter plugs into the cordless base.


#9 : Posted by Marlin Mabry

I have spectrum voip with their phone modem connected to my cordless base unit with answering machine and 2 other cordless phones through out the house. But when phone rings and any phone is picked up all the other phones are disabled and if I wanted to be on a conference call I could not. Why is this happening and how can it be fixed?

-> Response: This may be a setting inside the Spectrum ATA device that needs to be changed. I recommend calling them. You should be able to use all 3 cordless phones though only for 1 phone call.



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