Cable Signal Boosters - What works WELL..? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 37 Old 01-05-2008, 01:18 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm looking for a GOOD cable signal booster. Something that works all-around well. The best I've found so far are the ones the cable company uses (comcast) but they won't sell the ones they have and can only use them in specific situations (so they say.)

The typical off-the-shelf stuff from Radio Shack & Home Depot don't seem to cut it and they often make the signal look worse for some reason. I was looking at one from Motorola but I understand it will only work on channels to a certain range (52-1000 MHz).

Price won't matter so long as it works and works well..

Thanks for the help!
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post #2 of 37 Old 01-05-2008, 02:53 PM
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I primarily use an Electroline FT08100 Drop Amp. The benefit of this box (not to repeat the marketing stuff --> read the page below for more) is it returns the upstream signal to the input level before broadcasting it. This is because they can't legally amplify it without limit due to concerns about customers blowing equipment in the head end which, needless to say, would be expensive to fix. This way the upstream appears to have no loss on it, which is analogous to the levels you would get on a cable modem or other bi-directional box if you plugged it straight in to the line (vs. being behind the DropAmp). (google "cable active return" for more info)

There *are* upstream amps (look around Electroline's site for ex) available but, like I said, they have potential to cause some problems for the cable company which they will likely bill you for ;-). Basically, keep the use local (i.e. don't plug it straight in to your cable drop).

This box only does moderate (3.0db) downstream amplification. For pushing one-way traffic across significant distance I use the Motorola Signal Booster, which, until I had upstream problems, was a godsend.

links: (removed because I can't post URLs until I have 3 posts :-\\ ) --> Instead put these terms into google:

-> Electroline Page for FT08100:
look at electroline.com
-> DropAmp-specific page:
"dropamp ft08100"
-> Where to buy IMHO (saves you ~75$):
"electroline ft08100" (2nd link down)

-> Motorola Signal Booster:
"motorola signal booster" (bet you wouldn't have guessed that, eh? ;-D ) (edit: just saw that you had mentioned this already)


Note to Mods: I'm not soliciting, or at least not intentionally... I'm trying to give this guy some useful advice based on a lot of research I did. If you're concerned then just remove the third "link". And no, I don't have a way to prove I don't work for one of these companies, and I'm really not going to chase that goose to prove it ;-). Easier to just delete the links if it's a problem.


54-1000Mhz is the entire forward range used in the DOCSIS spec AFAIK. These both amplify that entire
range. You don't need to be concerned until the move to DOCSIS 3.0 which will be a while yet.
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post #3 of 37 Old 01-05-2008, 04:08 PM
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Yes avoid those run of the mill amplifiers they are too noisy and aren't designed for modern digital cable systems.

Get a good quality low-noise bi-directional cable amplifier like the Electroline models, they work very well. There are several models, a one output version with fixed +15dB gain, and other versions with a splitter built-in for two, four, or eight outputs.

Lots of bargain prices on the Electroline models on EBAY. Highly recommended.
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post #4 of 37 Old 01-05-2008, 04:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Wow, awesome information! I never considered the power output back to the line causing damage. I'll have to give them both a shot to see what one works better in different situations (digital cable, broadband access, VoIP lines etc.)

Thanks a lot for the help, I wouldn't have found the electoline models without it!
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post #5 of 37 Old 01-06-2008, 07:23 AM
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The Motorola works very well. I have two and have been using them for years. I think Best Buy sells them. They actually work from 5MHz to 1 GHz which is all you will ever need for CATV applications.
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post #6 of 37 Old 01-06-2008, 07:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Serus View Post

I'm looking for a GOOD cable signal booster. Something that works all-around well.

Thanks for the help!

http://www.cencom94.com/gpage4.html

Both are used by cable systems around the country.

CIAO!

Ed N.
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post #7 of 37 Old 01-06-2008, 08:04 AM
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I have a Electroline FT08100 Drop Amp, it's a good amp.
But the wall-wart power supply is under designed.
First the case cracked then the electrolytic capacitor failed.

Kevin
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post #8 of 37 Old 01-06-2008, 08:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Serus View Post

Wow, awesome information! I never considered the power output back to the line causing damage. I'll have to give them both a shot to see what one works better in different situations (digital cable, broadband access, VoIP lines etc.)

Thanks a lot for the help, I wouldn't have found the electoline models without it!

It's really not an issue except for excessive plant noise, the CMTS auto ranges the level back on the return for modems and MTA's, same goes for the de-mod. for the boxes. So its really a moot point about the amount of return amplification.

All Comments made are my own and not of my employer.
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post #9 of 37 Old 01-07-2008, 09:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joxer View Post

Yes avoid those run of the mill amplifiers they are too noisy and aren't designed for modern digital cable systems.

Get a good quality low-noise bi-directional cable amplifier like the Electroline models, they work very well. There are several models, a one output version with fixed +15dB gain, and other versions with a splitter built-in for two, four, or eight outputs.

Lots of bargain prices on the Electroline models on EBAY. Highly recommended.

How do these amplifiers work when you have a cable modem and a cable box attached simultaneously? I recent bought a 24K gold splitter from radio shack to split my FiOS cable modem and FiOS cable box in my living room. Originally, I had my router upstairs and had my Xbox 360 on wireless. I wasn't getting the best wireless connection from my 360 to the router, so I brought it downstairs and hard-wired to it. However, it looks as if I have loss a little signal quality on my HD channels. I have a Samsung 4665F LCD.

Should I get this amp and return the 24K splitter?
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post #10 of 37 Old 01-07-2008, 07:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mista_Vanquish View Post

How do these amplifiers work when you have a cable modem and a cable box attached simultaneously? I recent bought a 24K gold splitter from radio shack to split my FiOS cable modem and FiOS cable box in my living room. Originally, I had my router upstairs and had my Xbox 360 on wireless. I wasn't getting the best wireless connection from my 360 to the router, so I brought it downstairs and hard-wired to it. However, it looks as if I have loss a little signal quality on my HD channels. I have a Samsung 4665F LCD.

Should I get this amp and return the 24K splitter?

I would definitely replace the gold splitter with a real one -- one that is made by a CATV industry manufacturer. Costs a fair amount less than a gold one, too.

For 2 outlets, there should be absolutely no need for any kind of amplification. Unlike analog, digital either works or it doesn't -- there are no varying degrees of picture quality, other than tiling, which can be from either too little or too much signal.

CIAO!

Ed N.
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post #11 of 37 Old 01-08-2008, 07:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by egnlsn View Post

I would definitely replace the gold splitter with a real one -- one that is made by a CATV industry manufacturer. Costs a fair amount less than a gold one, too.

For 2 outlets, there should be absolutely no need for any kind of amplification. Unlike analog, digital either works or it doesn't -- there are no varying degrees of picture quality, other than tiling, which can be from either too little or too much signal.

When you say a "real one", what exactly do you mean? Like, one that the service provider leaves you when they install your service? If so, I have one of those and it doesn't work. It is not gold plated, it is silver, and when I hook it up, my FiOS box does not get enough signal to display a picture; my router is fine. This is the reason I bought the gold splitter and now both devices get the appropriate signal. Can you provide me with the make of a real splitter?

Thanks
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post #12 of 37 Old 01-08-2008, 09:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mista_Vanquish View Post

When you say a "real one", what exactly do you mean? Like, one that the service provider leaves you when they install your service? If so, I have one of those and it doesn't work. It is not gold plated, it is silver, and when I hook it up, my FiOS box does not get enough signal to display a picture; my router is fine. This is the reason I bought the gold splitter and now both devices get the appropriate signal. Can you provide me with the make of a real splitter?

Thanks

By "real" splitters, I mean splitters made by CATV industry manufacturers and used by the cable industry. A few manufacturers are Holland Electronics, PCT (can be found here: http://www.cencom94.com/gpage.html), Regal, Signal Vision, and Antronix. (Those just come to mind first -- there are others as well). Gold just looks sort of pretty and they can sell it for more because the salesman says gold's the best. Gold plating has a potential of creating signal issues, though. There is a reason that the CATV industry doesn't use it.

The insertion loss for 2-way splitters is the same regardless of the plating of the case. If the first one didn't work very well, it is probably just a defective one.

CIAO!

Ed N.
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post #13 of 37 Old 01-08-2008, 03:50 PM
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I got a Regal passive 1000Mhz rated splitter recently on EBAY and its excellent quality, they have Antronix there too.
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post #14 of 37 Old 03-23-2008, 07:06 PM
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Note: Skip this whole post if you're aren't concerned about an exhaustive reply to the following quote ;-) :


Quote:
Originally Posted by ybsane View Post

It's really not an issue except for excessive plant noise, the CMTS auto ranges the level back on the return for modems and MTA's, same goes for the de-mod. for the boxes. So its really a moot point about the amount of return amplification.


Yeah, you'd be surprised how much it drops in some places I have been. For the most part I've never had an issue. Lately, since moving around Santa Barbara lot, I've found some places that have some traits of poor line quality (whether it's due to long runs or truly poor quality lines I can't say). Admittedly, I'm making that statement largely based on the cable modem's S/N & power levels, but they're enough to infer quite a lot. The fundamental principle I'm appealing to is that auto-ranging or not, it's easier to read the signal (& auto-range etc) if the transmission power on the far end (in this case, my house) is higher.

Replacing a passive-return amp with an active-return amp has pushed my x-mit power levels down (I know, "pushed" has the wrong connotations). I have done some very simple testing to verify this:

Condition 1: plug CM straight into drop, measure values
Condition 2: put CM behind electroline (which is plugged straight into the drop), measure values

No surprises there. This simple test has also verified, in multiple houses/locations, that I am indeed able to fix [upstream] connectivity issues with the amp. I have stuck with my IT background as data service and PPV/digital cable are the only heavy upstream services. I don't know enough about how PPV/digital cable handles poor upstream performance and I don't know how to measure its effects reliably whereas raw data performance gives me a means by which to conduct reasonably reliable experiments. (I use several servers at different clients' offices that are also located on Cox to get average measurements).

...and I test connection quality like so:
1) Cable modem behind 1 splitter = poor upstream performance (easily measurable **) + high upstream power level.
2) When I put the modem straight on the drop: works great, no more upstream packet loss. Downstream is fine as well.
3) Put the cable modem behind the FT8100, see identical performance to #2 (from what I can see/test).

Note: This was always done after trying it with the Motorola Signal Booster first, to ensure it wasn't a downstream/downstream-only problem. The weak (3db) downstream amplification on the dropamp isn't enough to cure most downstream problems so I am attributing its success to the active return.

Poof. Problem solved. Many. Many. Times ;-)

So, point taken ybsane, but I needed to ensure that people understood that your caveat ("...except for excessive plant noise") is not worth brushing off without doing a simple test or two to ensure it truly isn't an issue. Well, I guess w/o an active-return amp it isn't so simple... *sigh*. What can I say? Borrow a friend's? Leave me one if you're in SB? I don't know ;-)


** measurable via split ping/bandwidth tests originating at either end -> I measure, with a custom app & a packet monitor, icmp (ping) echo request and echo reply packet travel times to establish one-way loss/delays. This could be done almost as easily by running packet monitors on both ends and pinging each other several times.
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post #15 of 37 Old 03-28-2008, 08:05 PM
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Hello,

I currently have digital cable with no DVR or cable modem. I'm trying to split the cable so I can use the normal tv (digital) and picture and picture (analog). Are all of everyone's recommendation work in this case too or do I need to do something different? Since I only have one TV, I don't need multiple outlets. Suggestions will be kindly accepted!
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post #16 of 37 Old 03-29-2008, 10:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by philweezer View Post

Hello,

I currently have digital cable with no DVR or cable modem. I'm trying to split the cable so I can use the normal tv (digital) and picture and picture (analog). Are all of everyone's recommendation work in this case too or do I need to do something different? Since I only have one TV, I don't need multiple outlets. Suggestions will be kindly accepted!

Install a 2-way splitter, with 1 leg going to your DCT and the other leg going into the ANT input of your TV (the DCT is connected to an A/V input) and you should be fine.

CIAO!

Ed N.
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post #17 of 37 Old 03-29-2008, 04:52 PM
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"Yeah, you'd be surprised how much it drops in some places I have been. For the most part I've never had an issue. Lately, since moving around Santa Barbara lot, I've found some places that have some traits of poor line quality (whether it's due to long runs or truly poor quality lines I can't say). Admittedly, I'm making that statement largely based on the cable modem's S/N & power levels, but they're enough to infer quite a lot. The fundamental principle I'm appealing to is that auto-ranging or not, it's easier to read the signal (& auto-range etc) if the transmission power on the far end (in this case, my house) is higher.

Replacing a passive-return amp with an active-return amp has pushed my x-mit power levels down (I know, "pushed" has the wrong connotations). I have done some very simple testing to verify this:"

Unless you undertand the differences in QPSK and 16-QAM for return purposes and the difference's in return CNR and SNR, than your field test you have little to add.Please don't take offense but I don't think you understand the S/N you measured is actually forward MER levels which are probably 256-QAM and the power levels depending on QPSK or 16-QAM could be acceptable at 58/54 return levels reepectively.

No cable system recommends a cable modem or MTA for phone fed off a cable amp. For return unity gain purposes the standard practice is to install a 2-way splitter or in some rare plant designs a DC-6 or 9. And this is also stated by the SCTE (Society of Cable Engineers)

Anyway to finish this up cable operators have more issues with amp unity gain set-up affecting the plant and laser clipping on the return receivers than drop related issues in general.

All Comments made are my own and not of my employer.
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post #18 of 37 Old 03-29-2008, 09:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by egnlsn View Post

Install a 2-way splitter, with 1 leg going to your DCT and the other leg going into the ANT input of your TV (the DCT is connected to an A/V input) and you should be fine.

egnlsn,

Thanks for the answer, but do I still need a booster or amp in this case? If so, which one would be good?

Thanks.
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post #19 of 37 Old 03-29-2008, 09:32 PM
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No, with a single split into two you won't need amplification of the signal unless something is dreadfully wrong.
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post #20 of 37 Old 03-30-2008, 09:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by philweezer View Post

egnlsn,

Thanks for the answer, but do I still need a booster or amp in this case? If so, which one would be good?

Thanks.

No

CIAO!

Ed N.
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post #21 of 37 Old 03-30-2008, 11:21 AM
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Saw this thread and figured I'd ask here vs starting my own thread. My parents house only has 4 runs back to a non powered splitter in the basement. They have been complaining of a crappy picture on two of the tvs on the lower channels. When I was up there during Easter I checked it out and they have some cheap rg59 run which makes the picture worse or better depending how you bend the cable. I figured I'd replace it with new rg6 quad shield plus replace the splitter with an drop amp, but don't need all the ports of the FT08100. Is the UG2402 the same feature wise just with 4 outputs? They have a completely separate run for the cable modem..that bypasses the splitter and goes directly to the outside box. So, is the UG2402 going to do what the FT08100 does just with less terminals?
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post #22 of 37 Old 03-30-2008, 11:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amill94 View Post

Saw this thread and figured I'd ask here vs starting my own thread. My parents house only has 4 runs back to a non powered splitter in the basement. They have been complaining of a crappy picture on two of the tvs on the lower channels. When I was up there during Easter I checked it out and they have some cheap rg59 run which makes the picture worse or better depending how you bend the cable. I figured I'd replace it with new rg6 quad shield plus replace the splitter with an drop amp, but don't need all the ports of the FT08100. Is the UG2402 the same feature wise just with 4 outputs? They have a completely separate run for the cable modem..that bypasses the splitter and goes directly to the outside box. So, is the UG2402 going to do what the FT08100 does just with less terminals?

Other than return path amplification, it is the same. For 4 outlets, you don't need to amplify the return path.

Or you could go with the MA2-4PN lisetd here: http://www.cencom94.com/gpage4.html

CIAO!

Ed N.
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post #23 of 37 Old 04-01-2008, 01:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by egnlsn View Post

Other than return path amplification, it is the same. For 4 outlets, you don't need to amplify the return path.

Or you could go with the MA2-4PN lisetd here: http://www.cencom94.com/gpage4.html

Does the MA2-4PN come with a power adapter. The site you linked me too doesn't say. I checked the manufacturer's site and it says something about a m1-1pg adapter is separate? Just wondering before I order if I need anything else.

Thanks
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post #24 of 37 Old 04-01-2008, 04:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amill94 View Post

Does the MA2-4PN come with a power adapter

Thanks

Yes

CIAO!

Ed N.
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post #25 of 37 Old 08-26-2008, 05:58 PM
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I was doing a search and came across this thread. For HDTV when will you notice a difference by hooking up a signal booster (I'm going to look at the brands recommended and would just like the cleanest picture I can get). I live in an apartment so I'm sure I'm nowhere near full signal strength. Is it worth hooking one up to a wall outlet and then running to my cable box? Would I notice a difference in picture clarity?
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post #26 of 37 Old 09-01-2008, 08:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Serus View Post

I'm looking for a GOOD cable signal booster. Something that works all-around well. The best I've found so far are the ones the cable company uses (comcast) but they won't sell the ones they have and can only use them in specific situations (so they say.)

The typical off-the-shelf stuff from Radio Shack & Home Depot don't seem to cut it and they often make the signal look worse for some reason. I was looking at one from Motorola but I understand it will only work on channels to a certain range (52-1000 MHz).

Price won't matter so long as it works and works well..

Thanks for the help!

Why purchase an amplifier if you are not having signal quality issues?? If you do have picture quality issues, your cable provider will provide free of charge an amplifier. At least Cox did for me.
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post #27 of 37 Old 09-01-2008, 11:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeynavy1 View Post

I was doing a search and came across this thread. For HDTV when will you notice a difference by hooking up a signal booster (I'm going to look at the brands recommended and would just like the cleanest picture I can get). I live in an apartment so I'm sure I'm nowhere near full signal strength. Is it worth hooking one up to a wall outlet and then running to my cable box? Would I notice a difference in picture clarity?

As long as there is sufficient signal for the STB (or TV set) to interpret the information, you will get a good HD picture. If you see some tiling (little squares), picture breaking up and/or sound becoming choppy, there most likely isn't enough signal (it is also possible that there is too much signal). An amplifier would probably help in that situation.

CIAO!

Ed N.
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post #28 of 37 Old 07-12-2010, 11:41 PM
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iv been having my cable internet stop working randomly, i was told by my ISP that my modem is fine and that a splitter might be the cause? here is a pic of my splitters. do i need a amp of some kind? or just replace the splitters?

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post #29 of 37 Old 09-21-2010, 03:42 PM
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Sorry to bump an old thread. I've been having lots of problems lately in my apartment building with my digital cable. I'm having TWC come out to check out the issue tomorrow and someone had suggested I get a Cable Signal Booster.

Right now, I have a splitter that goes 3 ways: 1) main cable box (that is no longer hooked up), 2) modem, 3) bedroom box (the one with the problem).

Where should I attach the booster? Or is there anything I should ask the tech when he comes out tomorrow about this?

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post #30 of 37 Old 09-23-2010, 11:52 AM
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iv been having my cable internet stop working randomly, i was told by my ISP that my modem is fine and that a splitter might be the cause? here is a pic of my splitters. do i need a amp of some kind? or just replace the splitters?

Where is the cable modem being fed from in your picture?

When it does lock access the diagnostic page and check your D/S and U/S parameters.
Let us know what they are look for D/S (downstream ) power level and SNR.
Also look for U/S (upstream) power level.
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