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Is it possible for a cable company to tell if you split the line from a modem to watch cable TV?


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#1 buckdog

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Posted 05 December 2007 - 05:12 PM

This is for informational purposes only, as I am curious about how the cable system works.

This is for a scenario with analog cable and when no filters are present/removed.

Thanks!

#2 TimothyMDean

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Posted 05 December 2007 - 08:16 PM

This is for informational purposes only, as I am curious about how the cable system works.

This is for a scenario with analog cable and when no filters are present/removed.

Thanks!



It is technically possible - Cable companies can monitor the amount of electrical load on the line if they choose to. I'm not sure how many of them really monitor that for typical residences. I wouldn't be surprised if they monitor places like apartments where cable theft is common, but it's less likely that they would care about what goes on in most reidences.

You should check the service agreement from your cable company to see if they prohibit use on multiple TV's. Many companies don't advertise that they allow this because they'd rather you pay them extra to set up a home network. Even so, it may be perfectly legal for you to split your cable within your household - In that case it wouldn't matter if they monitor line loads or not.

- Tim

#3 Huskermn

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Posted 06 December 2007 - 06:40 AM

I read the question a little differently. For my clarification, I'll describe what I think is the question.

Currently, buckdog has cable internet only so the cable comes into the house and goes immediately into a cable modem. To get cable TV out of the line, one needs to put a splitter in the line before the modem. So, buckdog is asking if the cable company could detect that splitter.

Like Timothy, I believe they have the technology to do so but probably wouldn't unless something goes wrong with the Internet connection.

Also, depending on the cable company, a set top box may be needed to actually get cable (other than your internet, which the modem 'decodes') TV.

Finally, doing that split may affect the Internet connection. It seems that Comcast, at least, uses some process to get adequate bandwidth including TV signal into our residence.

#4 TimothyMDean

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Posted 06 December 2007 - 10:02 AM

I read the question a little differently. For my clarification, I'll describe what I think is the question.

Currently, buckdog has cable internet only so the cable comes into the house and goes immediately into a cable modem. To get cable TV out of the line, one needs to put a splitter in the line before the modem. So, buckdog is asking if the cable company could detect that splitter.

Like Timothy, I believe they have the technology to do so but probably wouldn't unless something goes wrong with the Internet connection.

Also, depending on the cable company, a set top box may be needed to actually get cable (other than your internet, which the modem 'decodes') TV.

Finally, doing that split may affect the Internet connection. It seems that Comcast, at least, uses some process to get adequate bandwidth including TV signal into our residence.


Yup - I read the question the same way. I was just trying to answer (a) is it possible for the cable company to monitor this, and (B) is it likely that a cable company would monitor this or even care.

Most cable companies seem to have no problem allowing you to do what you want here - Splitting the cable signal so it can be used both for cable and for internet is pretty common. However, it is possible that a cable company could prohibit that behavior. They might want to do that if they, for example, wanted to force you to pay them more money for the additional service. Checking your service agreement would clarify what they allow and what they don't

In either case, it is unlikely that the cable company would bother to monitor your line for unauthorized splitting.

- Tim

#5 hiroProtagonist

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Posted 06 December 2007 - 02:11 PM

I'll agree that its unlikely that the cable company would detect the splitter. It is however possible that splitting would lead to a degredation of service. I was having problems with my cable TV a while back and the cable company ended up splitting my internet off of my digital TV, but also needed to install a booster to keep the signal strong enough.

#6 buckdog

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Posted 06 December 2007 - 03:20 PM

Let's say that there is not much loss of signal to the internet, which I can detect by doing a speed test before and after the split. I am most concerned with whether the cable company can detect this split, mostly from their "home base," because I doubt that they will check at the box outside of the house. Since this is analog cable, I doubt that they could monitor it from their "home base," but I want to know for sure.

Timothy said, "Cable companies can monitor the amount of electrical load on the line if they choose to." Where do they have to be to do this, and does a TV really pull more electricity from the line? The cable form the box already spans two backyards, so I would assume that it takes more electricity to get to our house than it does to get to some houses.

They did not take the trouble to put a filter on the line, so I doubt they would care much, but the last thing I want is fine/loss of cable internet subscription.

I would buy the subscription to cable anyways, so the cable company is not losing a dime off of me (If I hypothetically did this, of course)

Thanks!

#7 buckdog

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Posted 06 December 2007 - 03:26 PM

I read the question a little differently. For my clarification, I'll describe what I think is the question.

Currently, buckdog has cable internet only so the cable comes into the house and goes immediately into a cable modem. To get cable TV out of the line, one needs to put a splitter in the line before the modem. So, buckdog is asking if the cable company could detect that splitter.

Like Timothy, I believe they have the technology to do so but probably wouldn't unless something goes wrong with the Internet connection.

Also, depending on the cable company, a set top box may be needed to actually get cable (other than your internet, which the modem 'decodes') TV.

Finally, doing that split may affect the Internet connection. It seems that Comcast, at least, uses some process to get adequate bandwidth including TV signal into our residence.


I doubt that this would be in the terms of service because we only pay for the internet, but I might check it anyways, thanks!

#8 TimothyMDean

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Posted 06 December 2007 - 09:25 PM

I doubt that this would be in the terms of service because we only pay for the internet, but I might check it anyways, thanks!



If there is anything in the terms of service, it would probably be something like a prohibition against splitting the signal inside your home. If there's no explicit prohibition in the terms of service, I'd guess that you are legally entitled to split the signal as much as you like.

- Tim

#9 Dayjob Dave

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Posted 07 December 2007 - 01:59 PM

As I read through this thread, it seems likelihood of detection is more the object, but I can attest to the fact there are key and significant differences to the in-home hardware requirements for a simple TV cable system, vs one that supports a cable modem. I have a ridiculously complex home cable/satellite/wireless system going on here and I stumped four straight Cable techs to try getting the whole thing working when I made a change to the home theater system. And all the complexity came from the differences between internet and cable service. Which in some way makes me think the home office can detect what's going on.

#10 buckdog

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Posted 07 December 2007 - 02:02 PM

As I read through this thread, it seems likelihood of detection is more the object, but I can attest to the fact there are key and significant differences to the in-home hardware requirements for a simple TV cable system, vs one that supports a cable modem. I have a ridiculously complex home cable/satellite/wireless system going on here and I stumped four straight Cable techs to try getting the whole thing working when I made a change to the home theater system. And all the complexity came from the differences between internet and cable service. Which in some way makes me think the home office can detect what's going on.


In my case, though, the tv works through the internet line.

Thanks!

#11 buckdog

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Posted 08 December 2007 - 09:04 AM

If there is anything in the terms of service, it would probably be something like a prohibition against splitting the signal inside your home. If there's no explicit prohibition in the terms of service, I'd guess that you are legally entitled to split the signal as much as you like.

- Tim


Nothing about splitting, but a statement about not getting services that you are not entitled to. Still, I kinda doubt they'd care enough to do anything about it.

Thanks!

#12 TimothyMDean

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Posted 08 December 2007 - 06:56 PM

Nothing about splitting, but a statement about not getting services that you are not entitled to. Still, I kinda doubt they'd care enough to do anything about it.

Thanks!



That is probably something they couldn't legally hold you to - It's too vague and you can easily make the argument that you are entitled to the service because you're legally bringing it into your house already.

- Tim

#13 TimothyMDean

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Posted 08 December 2007 - 07:18 PM

Timothy said, "Cable companies can monitor the amount of electrical load on the line if they choose to." Where do they have to be to do this, and does a TV really pull more electricity from the line? The cable form the box already spans two backyards, so I would assume that it takes more electricity to get to our house than it does to get to some houses.


My memory of basic circuitry is a little rusty, but I believe that each splitter creates an additional source of electrical resistance wired in parallel to your main branch. The net effect is that there is less overall resistance on the circuit, resulting in more current flowing from the source across your circuits. To detect it, they probably would have to have meters applied at the nearest transformer, which is probably not on your house but on the nearest telephone pole.

Would they ever be monitoring from there? Who knows - It is possible. I wouldn't be surprised, for example, if your cable company has all sorts of monitors hooked up at all of their transformers to monitor for problems remotely. If so, they could very possibly see a spike in current running to your house when you split your line and put another device in the circuit.

The big questions is would they care, and even if they did care how would they react? I'm guessing that they probably don't care - It's done so commonly that they can't get too worried about every person that does it. Even if they did care, I'm not sure if they could do anything legal to stop you. They're selling you access to the signal, not a particular network setup. They can charge you for extra services you request such as an extra cable box or a home network router, but if you choose to handle those on your own they may be helpless to stop you.

Just for reference - I pay for a cable subscription with 1 cable box. I split the cable in my house to go to 2-3 different TV's as well as to my cable modem. When I've had to work with them for service I've made it quite clear to them that I've done this. They don't care one bit. My cable company is comcast in Minneapolis, MN

- Tim

#14 TimothyMDean

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Posted 08 December 2007 - 07:22 PM

I'll agree that its unlikely that the cable company would detect the splitter. It is however possible that splitting would lead to a degredation of service. I was having problems with my cable TV a while back and the cable company ended up splitting my internet off of my digital TV, but also needed to install a booster to keep the signal strong enough.



Each split can and does degrade the signal. Usually it is not too much of a problem, but digital TV's can be more sensitive to the degradation than analog. Rather than getting a little static when the signal is weak like an analog signal would, a digital signal gets all pixellated or even just freezes up when the signal is weak.

Boosting the signal is pretty easy in that case - You can get what you need at Radio shack for a couple dollars.

- Tim

#15 Huskermn

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Posted 08 December 2007 - 07:28 PM

I agree that I don't think the cable company will know/care.

That said, I also think if they did find out that a 'theft of service' charge could be brought and probably sustained since the TV portion of that signal is generally a separate charge and isn't being purchased.

I see it differently than splitting a signal one is already purchasing, but I'm not a lawyer.

#16 desertrose0601

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Posted 17 December 2007 - 07:25 PM

I agree that I don't think the cable company will know/care.

That said, I also think if they did find out that a 'theft of service' charge could be brought and probably sustained since the TV portion of that signal is generally a separate charge and isn't being purchased.

I see it differently than splitting a signal one is already purchasing, but I'm not a lawyer.



Yeah, I'm not sure. Technically speaking, I think it's possible to do, since it's the same signal, although I wouldn't go advertising what you're doing to your cable company. I doubt that they check on such things, but if they did they probably would frown upon it. You can always say, "Oh that's interesting. I thought it was supposed to be like that" and feign complete ignorance of the violation. Worked for me when they discovered that I was accidentally receiving too many channels! lol...




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