I have a cable TV and Internet connection which have been suffering from low SNR (Signal-to-Noise Ratio) since late April. I've contacted my provider regarding this problem several times to get it sorted out to no avail.

So now I'm thinking about getting a signal booster to crank up the SNR, especially for the Internet link which suffers the most (higher than normal latency, frequent time-outs). But, due to my lack of knowledge about the ins and outs of cable network, I'm not sure whether this alone will actually be enough. My questions are:

  1. Will a signal booster be the answer to my problem? Why or why not?
  2. Is there anything else I can or should look into to improve signal quality?
  • So what is your SNR then? If somebody knows more about cable, that might help. – slhck Jul 20 '11 at 19:22
  • @slchk: Below 28 dBmV; it used to stay at upper 30s. SNR should be at least 30 dBmV for a good connection. As an aside, I thought this question was closed. – Larssend Jul 20 '11 at 20:38
  • 1
    It was reopened because of this request. – slhck Jul 20 '11 at 20:49
  • Oh, thanks Breakthrough and slhck for posting a re-open request. I can't thank you guys enough. – Larssend Jul 21 '11 at 13:27

If a signal booster is just an amplifier, do note that you'll be amplifying the noise with it. There is no way to just "crank up the SNR" without introducing more problems.

It's possible that you have too many devices connected to the primary incoming cable to your home. In that case, an amplifier would help by reducing the amount of voltage drop at the receiving end. Note that when I say receiving end, I mean the very first place you connect any coaxial device to in your home.

That being said, if you have too low of a signal-to-noise ratio (or actual signal voltage level) at the actual cable coming into your house, there is little you can do aside from getting your ISP/cable provider to fix the problem. You can't amplify what's not there, and you can't retrieve what's already buried in noise.

What you can do to see if this is the issue, is disconnect everything except your cable modem. And when I mean everything, I mean every single television in your house. See if that helps to resolve the issue (even a bit), and if it does, then consider buying a signal amplfier.

Also note that if you have a very long cable attached to your cable modem, try using a shorter cable and see if that remedies the situation. Also, be aware of how the cable is physically oriented (try to limit the number of bends, make sure the insulation is present, etc).

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  • Hey, thanks. I only have a modem and a television connected to the primary. I disconnected the TV and saw improvement, albeit very little. The SNR went up from 25 to 26 dBmV, but it's now fluctuating between 24 to 26 dBmV (TV is still disconnected). I'm very desperate right now. – Larssend Jul 20 '11 at 20:54
  • @Burdges Out of curiosity, what would you say the quality is of the cable connected from the primary to your modem, and how long is it? – Breakthrough Jul 20 '11 at 23:15
  • It's one of the best quality coax cables I've ever seen (thick shielding, sturdy jacks and connectors, etc.); I can't say anything about the wires, though. It's more or less 25 feet long. – Larssend Jul 21 '11 at 13:24
  • My provider finally sent me a technician yesterday. Thanks a bunch for trying to help. – Larssend Jul 23 '11 at 12:44
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    @Burdges Do you know what he did to remedy the problem? – Breakthrough Jul 23 '11 at 13:42

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