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Troubleshooting Home Phone for No Dial Tone

This article will explain what to do if you can’t make or receive calls using your landline Home Phone (PSTN) service.

Please see these alternate guides if you have a Netphone or Fibre Phone (VoIP) service.

Select one of the links below to jump to a query:


  • When you pick up your phone handset, you hear silence or an “engaged” tone instead of the normal dial tone.

Things to check first

Potential cause
Try this:
Line noise/interference If you hear any buzzing, crackling, screeching or other line noise when you pick up your phone handset, you should troubleshoot that issue first.
Central splitter required If you have more than three telephony devices or a Back to Base Alarm system, you may need to contact an ACMA-licensed electrician to install a central splitter.



  1. Unplug all devices from every phone socket, including your modem, telephones, fax machines, pay TV boxes and EFTPOS terminals.
  2. If you have a different phone service (e.g. mobile) available, try calling your own home phone while nothing is plugged in. If it rings normally, skip to step 3.
    If you hear an engaged tone or a recorded voice saying the number is not available, please call us on 13 22 58 for further assistance.
  3. Plug a standard phone handset directly into the phone socket (without a filter), and then attempt to make a call. If you were able to make a call, skip to the advice below.
  4. If you have more than one phone socket in your home, plug your phone handset (without a filter) into each of those sockets and attempt to make a call. If you have a dial tone and can make a call when your phone is plugged into one socket but not another, there may be a problem with your home’s internal wiring.
  5. Using a different phone handset, repeat steps 3 and 4. If a different phone handset gives you a dial tone but the original phone handset doesn’t, then the original handset may be faulty.
  6. If you can make a call, see the advice below.
    If you can’t make a call on either handset, please use an alternate phone service call us on 13 22 58 for further assistance. If you have no access to a working phone service, please email

If your phone starts working again

  1. Plug your phone handset into the phone socket with a filter and attempt to make a call. If you can’t make a call, that filter may be faulty.
  2. Plug your other devices back in one at a time and attempt to make a call after each new device is plugged in. Always start with any devices that are plugged in with a filter.
  3. If you suddenly can’t make a call again, then the device you’ve just plugged in may be faulty or interfering with your phone service, or it may be plugged in with a faulty filter. We recommend replacing a filter or device if it is faulty, or adding a filter to a telephony device if it didn’t already have one.

More information

Why do I need to test a different phone handset?

Phone problems can be caused by several things, but a common cause is faulty hardware.

If iiNet lodges a fault for a phone line when there is no fault, then you may be charged an Incorrect Call-out Fee by our wholesaler’s fault technician. To reduce the risk of this, we need to rule out as many other possible causes for your phone problem as we can.

If a different handset gives you a dial tone but the original handset doesn’t, then the original handset may be faulty.


What do I do if I suspect my home has internal wiring issues?

If your phone works when it's plugged into one wall socket but not another, you may have internal wiring issues. If you suspect this is the case, please contact an ACMA-licensed electrician. This means that they are properly licensed to work on communications cables.

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