Is the Quality of your Coax Cable Important?

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Daniel writes: “I recently decided to swap my office and my bedroom, opting to gain more workspace at the loss of a little living space. In the process of the swap, I relocated my PC to a new room. The coaxial cable running from the wall jack to the router proved to be too short, and as a result, I ran new cable to the new location… there began the problems. At the same time, I downloaded and began using Skype. Shortly after I began to use Skype, I noticed a severe lag in my internet connection speed. I could not figure out what was causing everything to be so slow. At first I thought it was Skype, so I researched its affects on connection speed, discovering that Skype is one of the better non-resource hogs to choose from. Next I tried dumping one of the apps I installed to use with my Skype phone. Strike two. Then, realizing that I couldn’t remember when the last time I cleaned out my browser was, I deleted cookies, and passwords, thinking it would free up RAM. Strike three. Finally, I figured it out. In addition to a new location, I added a new TV to my office mix. The PC and TV split the same cable line. I used an old segment of cable I had from a few years ago to connect from the splitter to the PC. Eureka! After changing out the old segment of cable with a brand new, never used segment, my internet speed was back to normal. I never realized the importance of a simple string of copper. Here are my top five tips for using coaxial cable.”

  • Buy a quality product. I tried using an old cheap cable, and it failed me miserably. Stick with a name brand, such as Philips, Monster or Radio Shack. Better yet, get your cable from the cable provider. In most cases, it is of great quality. To go a step further, have it installed by them as well.
  • Consider upgrading to HD-optimized cable line. As the rest of the media world makes the transition to High Definition, now is the best time to swap out your lines even if you don’t use HD. Generally speaking, HD coax is of a higher quality and can carry more information, thus improving connectivity.
  • Keep quality on your mind when selecting connectors and hardware. I suggest using the same brand splitters, elbows, and extenders as the cable itself. As with most every electronic item, the old adage that “you get what you pay for” still applies. Make sure all connections are tight and fully connected. Not doing so will cause a loss in signal strength.
  • Remember signal strength. Most people have a single coaxial line running into their house from which they split off to all of the different cable sources. Keep in mind that the more you split your line, or the longer the line is, the weaker you signal will be. If you can afford to, have more than one line installed to separate TVs from computers. If you experience signal degradation in your TV signal or are having connection issues that you cannot resolve, call your local cable company and ask for a technician to boost your signal. As more and more customers are added to the cable system, the companies must periodically adjust the signal strengths to accommodate the added users.
  • Finally, stay organized. Run your cable along the wall and attach with cable clips to give a finished look. If possible, run in the ceilings or along the wall under the carpet. If exposed, I suggest purchasing cable the same color as the background. At corners, be careful not to have too tight of a radius in your turns. Accidentally crimping your line can cause signal degradation.

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