What is a Coaxial Splitter?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A coaxial splitter is a small piece of electronics hardware which is designed to be attached to a coaxial cable for the purpose of splitting the signal. People use coaxial splitters so that they can connect multiple devices to the same coaxial line, as for instance when people have a cable Internet and television subscription, and want to be able to connect a television and a computer to an incoming coaxial line. Many electronics and hardware stores stock coaxial splitters, and they can also be ordered from electronics companies.

Coaxial splitters can be attached to coaxial cable in order to split a signal.
Coaxial splitters can be attached to coaxial cable in order to split a signal.

These devices include a connector which is designed to interface with the line being split, and a number of ports which can be used to connect various devices such as cable modems, phones, and televisions. The number of ports can vary from two to 16, and they may be located on one side of the splitter for convenience, or arrayed around several sides. The connectors are usually of the coaxial design so that connecting coaxial cables can be plugged into them.

Coaxial cable is typically used during cable TV installation.
Coaxial cable is typically used during cable TV installation.

Coaxial splitters are sometimes referred to as “cable splitters.” The number of ports is usually clearly indicated on the packaging; a three way cable splitter, for example, has three connecting ports. As a general rule, it is best to select a coaxial splitter with just enough ports for the intended use, and the use of multiple splitters in a daisy chain should be avoided. In other words, it is not a good idea to connect a coaxial splitter to another coaxial splitter.

In addition to standard coaxial splitters, it is also possible to obtain amplified splitters. Amplified splitters intensify the signals being carried by the cable, which can be useful when a long connection line is causing interference. If a signal seems weak, using an amplified coaxial splitter may address the problem. Using coaxial splitters made from high quality components is also strongly recommended, as cheaper products may degrade with time, causing problems with the signal.

The more ports a coaxial splitter has, the more potential there is for signal interference and dropped or lost signals. Using long connecting cables can also have a negative impact on the signal. If cable television, phone, or Internet appear to decline sharply in quality, the coaxial splitter may be a culprit. It can also be a good idea to call the cable company to request a service visit, as there may be problems with the signal transmission on their end which could have caused the quality decline.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

MrMoody

If you’re considering buying coaxial cable splitters, don’t buy them to split Internet connections. I tried doing that and it doesn’t work. Basically I had two computers and wanted to share my cable Internet connection between both of them.

I had a cable modem for each computer and ran one coaxial cable from each splitter connection into the back of each modem and tried in vain to get Internet signals into each PC.

It doesn’t work. One computer got the signal, but the other didn’t, and sometimes vice-versa. It turns out you need a router; actually I called the cable company and they didn’t even suggest that, they told me you need a second cable account for the second line.

I said, forget that, and went back to using one computer. Eventually I got a wireless router and had my second computer pick up the signal that way.

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