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What is a Cable Splitter?

G. Wiesen
G. Wiesen

A cable splitter is a small device that allows two separate coaxial cables to be run from a single outlet or similar type of cable source. These devices are often used in homes or businesses where only a single wall outlet for a cable signal is available, but multiple televisions, modems, or similar devices are needed for connection. A cable splitter can potentially degrade the signal quality coming from a cable outlet, and multiple splitters on a single line should be avoided.

Though there are many different types of wires and cables used in television and computer setup, the term “cable” by itself typically indicates coaxial cable. Coaxial cable is used in “cable television” and “cable Internet” to transfer data from a wall socket to a television, receiver, or modem. It is of moderate thickness and circular, with a single cylindrical prong at the male end. A cable splitter is a device that allows multiple cables to be connected to a single wall socket, and is often used for connecting more than one television to an outlet.

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

The most common type of cable splitter is a small device with a single male end and two female ends on the other side. It looks similar to a “Y” or “T” and the single connector end is attached to a wall outlet. Most outlets are female and the splitter can be easily secured to the outlet. This creates two new female outlets that can be used to connect two coaxial cables that can then be run to other devices. A cable splitter is often used for a home with a single outlet but where more than one television is desired for usage, potentially in different rooms.

There are different lengths and qualities of coaxial cable, and the type used will typically depend on the person installing the system. One major flaw with cable splitters, however, is that the original signal is still the same as it was coming out of the wall, it has merely been split. This means that the signal can be degraded by the splitter and the received image on both devices may be of poor quality. Some splitters incorporate signal boosting technology intended to counteract this problem, but even then there can be issues. This means that more than one cable splitter should not be used on a single outlet or line, and that multiple outlets will typically produce greater results.

Discussion Comments


Despite family doubts that a woman can work on electronics, I saved my mom money by putting in a cable splitter myself. Having previously worked for a cable company, I knew it was very important to invest in a high end, three-way CATV splitter. The cable outlet supported the modem for her telephone, so I knew the signal would be strong enough to support both her phone and TV.

Her cable company’s minimum trip charge was $75 to come out and ‘upgrade’. By installing a $17 splitter, I was able to get her basic cable on the kitchen TV with no effect on her call quality.

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    • Cable splitters can be attached to coaxial cable in order to split a signal.
      By: salita2010
      Cable splitters can be attached to coaxial cable in order to split a signal.