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Q: Cable TV problem ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Cable TV problem
Category: Science > Technology
Asked by: jv-ga
List Price: $2.50
Posted: 24 Aug 2002 08:36 PDT
Expires: 23 Sep 2002 08:36 PDT
Question ID: 58090
My mother has just moved into a retirement home and had her cable TV
hooked up.  She can not get her Game Show Network on the new cable
system.  The cable company says that there are too many user on the
same system for her to be able to receive it above the second floor of
the home.  She is paying for the digital connection, and the game show
is broadcast in digital.  The cable company says that all of the
digital signals can not be received by anyone above the first floor of
the home.
I know that, with sattellite tv, all signals are broadcast in digital
and the receiver converts that to an analog signal able to be used by
a TV set.
Does this sound like a connection problem, or a Cable provider
Subject: Re: Cable TV problem
Answered By: rmn-ga on 24 Aug 2002 19:29 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi jv-ga,

This problem stems from the way your mother's Cable TV is wired. 
Basically, Cable TV works by transmitting channels on different
frequencies of the cable line.  The lowest channels are the lowest
frequencies (for example, channels 1,2,3 etc.), and high channels
(80+) are higher frequencies on the cable line.  The lower frequencies
can transmit farther (in terms of distance), while the higher
frequencies tend to have their signal degrade quicker as it moves
along the cable line.  In my experience, Game Show Network is usually
one the higher channels in most Cable TV setups, making it a high
frequency and subject to easy loss of quality.

The retirement home your mother is in probably has the cable system
wired in the following way:
                 to TV         to 2nd Floor
                   |            |
                   |       _____|
incoming line  ___________[____________
--------------[   Floor 1  ____________  ---->
                   |          |
                   |          |
                 to TV      to TV

This is a crude diagram, and of course isn’t specific to your mother's
home, however it illustrates the concept.

The cable TV signal comes in at 100% strength on the incoming line. 
The incoming line is split (by a splitter, a small metal box that
takes one incoming line and makes it into two outgoing lines) into two
lines, which are now at 96% strength.  These two lines are split
again, to make connections to TVs on the first floor.  The signal is
now 93% strength.  The cable is now split again, which again reduces
the strength.  Finally, after going through several sets of splitters,
the wire runs up into the second floor.  By now, the strength is 85%. 
The signal has to pass through additional splitters that will provide
TV outputs to the other TVs on the second floor.  By the time the
cable reaches your mother's room, the strength is now 70%.
(NOTE: These numbers are simply rough estimates designed to show you
what the problem is, they are not exact or calculated in any way).

In order to solve this problem, the cable company needs to take one of
the connections from the splitter on the incoming line, and run it
directly to the second floor, or preferably directly to your mother's
room.  This will provide a high signal strength, which will allow high
frequencies (in other words, high channels) to be received.

Calling the cable company, or having the retirement home call the
cable company is the best way to solve this problem.  Company
technicians will have meters which will measure the signal strength,
and they will rewire the building appropriately.  They may also
replace some wiring on the exterior of the building, which could be
causing a loss of signal.

None.  This information came from my local cable company
(Cablevision), and specifically a technician who came to fix our cable
modem several years ago.  Cable modems operate on very high
frequencies (1000+), and our cable modem suffered from the same
problem your mother's cable connection is suffering from.  I have also
worked and experimented somewhat in this area myself.

Hope this helps,

jv-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Thanks, at least it gives me a place to start on getting the problem fixed.

Subject: Re: Cable TV problem
From: answerguru-ga on 24 Aug 2002 11:02 PDT
Hi there,

If your mother is dealing with the cable company directly (ie. making
payment to them), then it is their responsibility. However, in this
type of situation the retirement home handles the bills of the this case it is the home's problem. Perhaps she could
be moved to the first floor?

Either way, your mother should not have to suffer lack of availability
of channels that she is paying for!

Just my .02, but if this answers your question, just post a comment
and I'll put it up as an answer.


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