How to Increase a Cable Modem Signal to Noise Ratio

Written by effie white
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How to Increase a Cable Modem Signal to Noise Ratio
A cable modem showing a strong signal. (cable modem image by IKO from Fotolia.com)

Signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) is a gauge of signal strength to and from your cable modem in relation to the background noise. The ideal SNR range is 30 to 50 decibels (dB). High noise or low power levels reduce the SNR and can negatively affect your Internet connectivity, resulting in data loss or slow speeds. Such issues can be caused by problems with wiring or connections but are rectified easily.

Skill level:
Easy

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Inspect the cable that runs from the street or pedestal to your house. Breaks in the cable line allow for signal leakage and cause loss of SNR. The rubber casing should be shiny and firm. Replace cables that are cracked, crumbling or show signs of wear.

    How to Increase a Cable Modem Signal to Noise Ratio
    An example of undamaged exterior coax cable. (electronic cable image by jimcox40 from Fotolia.com)
  2. 2

    Count connections at the outside splitter. Many houses have an exterior splitter mounted on the side of the building that feeds cable into the various rooms. Each connection to the splitter weakens the overall signal. If there are more than five connections from the splitter, reduce the number of connections or contact the local cable office to have a cable run directly from the pole to the modem.

  3. 3

    Check the modem line at the outside splitter. Unscrew the coaxial cable and examine the connector. Ensure that the metal connector is attached firmly to the cable. Also verify that the centre conductor (the insulation surrounding the copper wire) is visible and clean. A loose connection may cause the centre conductor to shift in varying temperatures, resulting in signal leakage. Replace loose or damaged connectors.

    How to Increase a Cable Modem Signal to Noise Ratio
    An example of healthy cable connectors. (cable connector image by Albert Lozano from Fotolia.com)
  1. 1

    Remove excess cable running to the modem. Coaxial cable is sold in pre-cut lengths. A common mistake when setting up a modem is to purchase more cable than you need. The longer the cable, the greater the distance the signal must travel. The cable from the wall connection to the modem should be as short as possible.

  2. 2

    Remove cable splitters. Many people use splitters to allow for a cable modem and television in the same room. Splitters affect signal strength and may decrease the modem's SNR. If multiple connections are necessary, contact the local cable provider to add an additional outlet for the modem.

    How to Increase a Cable Modem Signal to Noise Ratio
    An example of a cable splitter. (Aerial splitter 4 sockets made of metal isolated on white image by Olga Sapegina from Fotolia.com)
  3. 3

    Check for old or damaged cabling. Common culprits are holes caused by nails, staples or other devices used to hold the cable in place. Damaged cable cannot be repaired, it can only be replaced.

  4. 4

    Check the connection to the modem. Unscrew the cable from the modem and reattach it, ensuring it is firmly affixed to the device.

  5. 5

    Contact your local cable provider and request that they measure your signal. It should be possible to determine the SNR to the modem from their offices. If your signal has not improved, it may be necessary for the cable company to send a specialised technician to determine the cause of the issue.

Tips and warnings

  • Outside coaxial cable is typically a heavier grade than inside cable, so make sure to use the proper grade cable when making replacements.
  • If you do not have the proper equipment to cut or replace cable, contact your local cable provider. Many services are free or have a small fee.
  • Do not touch cables inside or outside your home if you are not absolutely sure what they are.
  • Coaxial cable carries a small current. Do not touch exposed copper wires without the proper safety gear.
  • When in doubt, call a professional.

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