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Does Cable TV Have Rain Fade Too?


Consistency is important when it comes to television programming. Suppose, you are watching a TV episode you’ve been waiting on for a whole week. The ambiance is set, the snacks are ready and your energy is in a high swing. Suddenly, right at a critical juncture in the plot, your screen freezes over or the quality of video drops significantly, destroying your experience and making you lash out in frustration. If you are a satellite TV subscriber, then this might happen to you more often than you’d like. The reason for this could be anything from a misaligned dish to physical obstructions, but most of the time, it’s due to bad weather. Storms, heavy rainfall, winds, snow, and hurricanes can disrupt the satellite stream and distort the programming that’s running on your television screen. To avoid this interference, many people prefer to subscribe to top-of-the-line cable services and deals, like Cox cable packages. Since cable is more stable, they expect a smoother performance. Now, the question is, can rain fade affect cable systems too? If yes, how can you avoid it? Let’s figure out below.

What is Rain Fade?

Rain fade refers to a break or interruption in the signal pathway of a television network. It is caused by climatic factors. Though rain fade primarily points towards rainfall as the main perpetrator of this disturbance, other atmospheric realities like snowstorms can also have the same effect. The rain creates a sheet or wall in front of a satellite dish, blocking the signals sent by a television provider from reaching their destination. When signals don’t travel properly to your television receiver, the programming automatically weakens in strength and slows down until the signals seep through and complete their circle. That is why the effect is called a rain fade.

Why does Rain Fade Happen?

Let’s go into the technicalities. Satellite TV signals travel over a frequency range known as the Ku-band. Ku-band is powerful, offers a wider spectrum for greater data transmission at faster speeds, and delivers an above-average performance, even when the atmosphere is dense with precipitation. However, right below it is another frequency range, called the K-band, which was used in the past for satellite TV broadcasting. K-band is susceptible to bad weather and disperses signals during rainfall almost at once. Though Ku-band in itself has the potency to pierce through rainfall, its closeness to the K-band destabilizes it. The raindrops either absorb the signals, diffract them, or dissipate them through the air, away from their assigned pathway. This creates a rain fade that you see on your television display.

Does Cable TV have Rain Fade too?

We’ve always heard of satellite TV services, like Dish and DirecTV, encountering rain fade. Since their television delivery model is largely wireless and relies on atmospheric conditions, so it makes sense if a climatic issue causes disturbances in the signal transmission. Does it happen with cable TV systems too? Can a cable TV subscriber experience the same pixelated screen every thirty minutes or so during bad weather? There may be a possibility. Here’s what we think:

  • Moisture – Some coax cable lines are meant to be buried deep underground. They usually have the label, ‘direct bury’ on them. You don’t need a conduit to install these. However, if you happen to lay down other kinds of cables that are best-suited above-ground, then you might face more rain fade than ever, as water droplets can make their way inside the copper cables and disrupt the flow of data packets. Cable lines that have been used for a long time may also undergo wear and tear. Rain can work its way through the cracks and ruin the insulation layering, making the signal pathway frantic.
  • Ill-Fitting – A hasty installation process by an amateur technician can also ruin your cable feed every time the weather goes bad. Many consumers have reported that bad fittings have caused them to lose programming during rainfall. There was an instance in which a technician used heavy pliers to put a crimp on, leading to wear and tear, and moisture seepage in the infrastructure.
  • Satellite Reliance – You might find a number of cable TV providers getting their channel feed from overarching satellites in an area. When and if rain fade distorts the satellite signals, the same thing happens to the cable service leeching off them. In turn, the cable subscribers may experience an interruption in their programming.

These instances show you that rain fade can jolt a cable TV system that you’re depending on for your daily entertainment needs.

What Can You Do About It?

Being a cable TV subscriber, you need to be prepared for just about anything. If rain fade happens to the cable service in your area, and you face a massive outage, then you can choose to undertake the following tips to set the affairs in order and resume watching your favorite shows without interruption:

  • Be Wary During Installation – Keep an eye on the technician appointed to your home and oversee the whole installation process. Read about the cable lines and see if they should go above or below the ground for the most optimal performance. If your tech guy slacks off, call the provider for another appointment. You cannot compromise on anything during the installation process.
  • Inspect Cables Regularly – All hardware is prone to deterioration over time. This includes your cable TV wiring. Check it for tears and cracks on a regular basis, and order replacements of the cables, connectors, splitters, or receivers if you deem it right.
  • Call the Provider – If nothing else seems to work, then don’t hesitate to place a call to your cable provider’s customer service and give them an earful.

For satellite TV subscribers, the best option to evade rain fade is one, to get an opaque, waterproof screen and set it in front of the satellite dish, and two, keep the signal pathway clear of any physical obstructions like tree branches or eaves.

Final Words

Rain fade is a natural occurrence, which can disturb your regular flow of programming. Besides satellite TV services, this phenomenon might leave an impact on certain cable TV systems too, as discussed in the article. However, overall, cable remains largely unaffected by rain fade.

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