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[Discuss] Cable Modem Woes / Looking to Compare Notes

Rick Umali wrote:
> When our TV began to exhibit tiling, we called Comcast, and the
> technician determined our signal wasn't strong enough. He put in new
> coax "from the pole" to the side of our house.

Makes sense, as coax cable does seem to degrade with age.

When I upgraded to digital TV service several years back, Comcast techs
also replaced the coax from the pole drop due to signal loss.

> ...said the signal to our cable modem was weak, and he took the coax
> from the side of the house and directly connected it to the cable
> modem.
> ...technician said that the coax in our house walls are of an older
> generation.

I'm not following whether your in-wall wiring is still in the circuit
going to your cable modem, or if it is only being used for the TV. Was
the hookup to "the side of the house" temporary to prove you had a good
signal, or did he run a new line?

It seems they have repeatedly proven that they are delivering an
inadequate signal to you. Do their signal measurements still show a weak
signal at the current location of your cable modem?

> He recommended that we replace it...

If it is working adequately for your TV service, I'd probably leave it
as-is and run a separate line for the modem. With the modem you have the
flexibility of relocating it to the basement or other out of the way
location that happens to be close to where the cable enters your house.
(Then distribute by CAT5 or WiFi from there.)

If there is concern that the old wiring is attenuating the signal, you
can use a distribution amplifier to isolate the branch going to the
in-wall wiring.

> ...but it's something an electrician would have to do.

I believe from a building code and insurance perspective, a homeowner is
free to do any low-voltage wiring they wish, even if it is in-wall.
Whether that's a job you *prefer* an electrician to do, is another matter.

> ...Comcast has suggested we replace the cable modem.> 
> My big fear is that replacing the cable modem won't fix anything.

Given the signal problems uncovered so far, a modem replacement doesn't
sound promising. I'd probably take another stab at improving the wiring
first. Then try the rental modem approach that someone suggested. You
might also be able to pick up a modem for close to free n Craigslist
from someone who has switched to FIOS.

I would also suggest looking into the administration interface on your
cable modem to see if it has signal strength and quality reporting. (You
may need to dig around on forums like to find
out how to access this.) That could help you pin down whether the loss
of net connectivity is in fact due to poor signal, as you are assuming.


Tom Metro
Venture Logic, Newton, MA, USA
"Enterprise solutions through open source."
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