A co-worker came up to me recently to ask about her cable television connection. She and her husband are expecting a baby soon and want to move their Internet-connect computer and router from the baby's room to their bedroom. After all, you don't want a newborn surfing the Net at such an early age.
She wanted to know if she could split the cable from the one outlet in her bedroom so one cable goes to the TV and another cable goes to the computer.
Normally, I would tell her to call Comcast/Xfinity and have them send out a technician over to do that for her. But Comcast and other cable TV companies tend to charge for such visits. That means she would have to pay them to come fix the problem, then they would have no money left to feed the baby. I think babies are cute and should not be underfed, so I called Comcast to troubleshoot the situation for her.
According to Comcast Technical Operations Manager Roger Leuba, it's actually a common request by customers to move the computer with the modem and Internet connection into a room already equipped with a cable TV connection.
Fortunately, it's something you can do yourself. It's easy and costs absolutely nothing, and requires just a short trip to a Comcast service center (which the company has in Sugar House, West Valley City and other locations) for the parts.
At the Comcast center, they will give you a free splitter, a short piece of coaxial cable and cable for the Internet modem (which you won't need if you already have one connecting your modem to your computer).
From the cable outlet, the black coaxial cable would screw into one end of the splitter, a small metallic box with two cable connectors on one side and one on the other side. Then, one coaxial cable goes from the splitter to your cable box, or TV if it already has a cable tuner. Another cable comes from the splitter to the back of the cable modem. Then an Internet cable (which is different from the coaxial cable) goes from the modem to your desktop computer, or to a router if you want a wireless network.
Leuba says you won't have to reconfigure any settings or change anything on the modem, router, cable box or your computer. Nor will you have to call Comcast's main service center to re-activate anything. And finally, it won't cost extra per month to split the signal in the same room. Just reconnect everything, and you'll be able to watch cable TV and surf the Internet on your computer in the same room.
One concern some may have is whether splitting the cable will degrade either the Internet signal or the cable TV signal. Actually, it will. But Leuba says the signal loss is so small that it's imperceptible. You won't see a worse TV picture, and your Internet speed will not slow down in any way.
If you have a tech question for Vince, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, and he'll try to answer it for his column in The Salt Lake Tribune or on its website. For an archive of past columns, go to www.sltrib.com/topics/ohmytech.