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Michigan State UniversityMichigan State UniversityInfrastructure Planning and Facilities

Tips for buying coax cables

When students come to campus, it is tempting to bring coax cables that have been used at home for years. The cables that connect your television to the wall are one of the most important things you can have to keep a high signal quality.

At MSU it is very important to get a high-quality cable (but not necessarily expensive). Cables that are broken, malfunctioning or very low quality can cause radio frequency (RF) leaks that can cause issues with radios, phones and other wireless devices. If you are using a bad cable and it is causing problems for others, the maintenance staff may replace it and charge you for another one.

What are the things to look for when buying a cable?

  • Buy a cable that has a screw-on connector. Cables that utilize push-on connectors often do not make good connections and can cause “breakups” in your TV programs. 
  • Look for cables that have pressure-fitted ends. Pressure-fitted ends (vs. molded ends) tend to last longer and don’t fray. They also don't cause RF leaks when they get pulled, tugged and stepped on.
  • Look for cables that are RG-6 rated. This rating indicates a thicker, higher-quality cable. The type of material (gold, silver, platinum, copper, etc.) does not matter, as these are often just a thin layer of material over the connector.
  • The best cables will also be quad-shielded. The shielding will make the cable sturdier and the signal stronger.

You can find cables for purchase at Sparty’s Convenience Stores or your favorite electronics store. You will need to purchase 12 or 25 feet length.

A photo of what to look for:

A graphic shows how to choose the best coax cables for campus TVs.