No, I mean, cutting the actual physical cable
September 7, 2012 11:13 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to keep my cable TV but without the physical cable. Is there any way to do this?

I have cable TV through Comcast (I also have cable internet with them as well) and I want to keep it. This isn't about "cutting the cable" as in getting rid of the service.

My problem is that the ideal location of my TV is on a narrow wall with no actual cable outlet. The outlet is on a wall to the left, separated by the front door to my apartment. I've tried running the cable around the door but the stiffness of the cable is such that it doesn't look that great (doesn't fit neatly against the frame). And I've tried along the baseboard but the bottom of the door frame scrapes the carpet and I can't get the cable tucked low enough to stop impeding opening a door I use all the time. Right now the cable itself is just strung across the floor and it's been driving me nuts for 9 months.

I'm hoping there's something that I could hook up to my cable outlet and also to my TV/cablebox that would send the signal wirelessly. If that exists, what's it called and does it really work? Since I also have wireless internet will the signals of either be degraded or affected? There are lots of wifi networks in the building as well so possibly more interference?

I realize it's possible I could pay Comcast to come out and somehow install an outlet but that's both expensive and, given the location of this wall in the apartment and relative to the rest of the building not so easy. I'm looking for some other alternatives.
posted by marylynn to Technology (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
We have this set up. The cable comes into what our cable provider calls a "media gateway" that sends out a wireless signal to boxes hooked up to our televisions (and is also our wireless internet, so to all other devices). This all came right from our cable company (wow communications). so, yes, this exists, but i don't know if it exists for comcast customers.
posted by dpx.mfx at 11:21 AM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

You need a wireless coaxial cable transmitter, I believe. They're available at
posted by brand-gnu at 11:25 AM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Since cost is a consideration, maybe don't do wireless and instead emulate what the techs would do for you if they were called out. They would string the cable around the door frame, securing it in the little nook between jamb and wall. I know you said you tried it, but I doubt you took a staple gun to the cable, nailing it down every six inches, right?

You don't even really need a gun, just buy a bunch of baseboard cable clips. You clip one onto the cable, hold it against the jamb/baseboard, and nail it to the wall. Do it about every 5-6 inches and the whole shebang should mostly disappear. Of course, you may need to get a longer wire.
posted by carsonb at 11:29 AM on September 7, 2012 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: I actually did do that, but there are several problems: the cable itself is very thick and doesn't bend much, so getting it to really lie flat and neat is hard. When I tried to hammer in the clips they don't hold (this is an old building and the walls seem... dusty). On one side of the door the space between the door jamb itself and the wall that comes out perpendicular is barely enough to get the cable+clip in it and in that angle you can't actually hammer down (hard to describe). At one point I thought I had it at least nailed down across the baseboard and then went into the kitchen and came back to find the whole damn thing had pulled itself out as the coax tried to coil back up.

I should also say that while I've lived with a crap looking non-solution for this long, having a shitty looking coax naildown job around a door frame that's front and center in my living room is not something I'm going to be happy with.

Cost isn't that much of a consideration really. I can spend a couple hundred bucks on this to avoid dealing with a Comcast installation (it would be at least that much or more).
posted by marylynn at 11:37 AM on September 7, 2012

AT&T U-verse has a wireless option.

They're advertising the eff out of it here in Atlanta.

Call Comcast and see if they have one too. If not, get the media gateway.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:40 AM on September 7, 2012

They make wire-chase crown moulding. You can install the crown moulding along the top of that wall, and run the wire through it.
posted by Flood at 11:43 AM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

How far is the outlet from the location where you want to put the TV? Are there many walls in between that might impede wireless signal or are you just talking about transmitting to the other side of the same room?

I'm not aware of any consumer device that reliably sends a digital cable tv signal wirelessly, unless it's something actually provided by the specific cable company. You can call Comcast to see what they've got. You also may be able to call a cut-rate electrician and have them do the work of adding a new "cable TV drop" (for that is what this is called) to your apartment for less than what Comcast would charge. Your building may or may not allow this.

Two other options:

This thing or something like it would let you leave your cable box back by the wall jack and send the video and audio to the TV wirelessly while passing commands from the remote control back to the box. I don't have experience with this particular model and these things can be really temperamental, but if it's all in one room you'd probably be ok. (on preview, the boxes linked by brand-gnu do a similar thing, but only for low definition video and they don't handle the problem of the remote control being able to talk to the box on the other side of the room.)

The other choice is to use a cable, but tack it up or hide it (this will be more visible, but much more reliable.) If you want to run it along the wall you can use something like this to make it look a little more finished (or just staple it up as carsonb suggests.) If you have or would consider an area rug for the room, you can also use one of these to run it underneath, though there will be a lump.
posted by contraption at 11:45 AM on September 7, 2012

The other option is to fish the cable underneath the carpet. This generally requires puncturing it, so you may want to check with management beforehand.
posted by kavasa at 11:46 AM on September 7, 2012

If the cable won't bend easily, try getting a different cable. It sounds like you might have an RG-6 cable, when for a run as small as what you're describing, RG-59 should be fine. And hey, if it's a new cheap cable that you bought; feel free to force a 90 degree bend as needed, and if that's too much and the cable no longer works you still have the older one.
posted by nobeagle at 11:46 AM on September 7, 2012

On one side of the door the space between the door jamb itself and the wall that comes out perpendicular is barely enough to get the cable+clip in it and in that angle you can't actually hammer down (hard to describe).

Yeah, that's where the nail gun comes in handy.
posted by carsonb at 11:58 AM on September 7, 2012

Rather than trying to wrestle with wireless transmitters, etc., why don't you try a different kind of coaxial cable, such as the RG-59 mentioned above. You can buy it off Amazon, and plug it in to both the cable outlet and your TV yourself. No need to involve Comcast. It's an easier cable to manage than the standard coaxial cable you seem to be dealing with, so it can more easily be hidden either by a cable runner or tied down by cable stays.
posted by dfriedman at 12:06 PM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

You could try this: Actiontec My Wireless TV WiFi / HDMI Multi-Room Wireless HD Video Kit. It is $200. Seems they have a list of compatible STB's on their website. It uses 802.11n wifi, but probably uses 5GHz channels which are still typically not used by routers. If you can find a free wifi channel(s) it should not interfere with nearby routers. It looks like it does re-compress/decompress the video so there may be slight quality reduction and delay.
posted by Golden Eternity at 2:05 PM on September 7, 2012

For tight corners, you do not bend RG-6. You use a 90degree connector. If you make good taps on the connector, there will be no signal degradation.
posted by Flood at 7:43 PM on September 7, 2012

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