Cable modem owners hack for free cable TV

Drawing on old-school methods to splice cable TV lines for unauthorized use, hackers say they can buy a splitter at the local electronics store and easily run an additional line from the cable modem (news - web sites) line for the computer into the television. Without a set-top box, the result is free, basic, analog cable; with an illegal converter or set-top, hackers say they have access to premium channels such as HBO and Showtime.

"I only get (basic) cable. I don't subscribe; it just comes to my house along with the cable modem signal," said Noah, who wished to keep his last name anonymous. He saves roughly $40 a month on cable but spends about $42 a month on Internet access.

"Lots of people do this if all you want is analog cable," he said. "All cable services are run through the same line; they can't just cut power to analog cable and still give you a cable modem."

Cable operators have battled this form of piracy for years, but it's taking on new urgency in the race to build high-speed Internet service. Broadband providers are struggling with costs, with AT&T just last week instituting a price increase for cable modem customers.


155 comments for 'Cable modem owners hack for free cable TV'

Ok, that's an idea. I tried to open the filter as you said, but it is so stuck. It seems that it if you unscrew the center from the barrel, the inner would come out together, but it is very stuck. How did you open it?

hey, hernandez. I did the exact same thing as you, the only difference is, I have the tier trap sitting right here in front of me. I've been trying many different ways to actually get them open somehow, but to no avail. Could you explain, in more detail, exactly what you did to your trap? Thanks alot!

I,ve tried hacking the cable for free basis cable offer.
I got some post working but they are not all working.
I've tried with a 10dB amplifier to get more channels and it works but not totally, is it because the amplifier (for frequencies from 5 to 900MHz) or because of the tv filter in my cable box ?

I have a AT&T cable modem. I want to split that to my tv. I got a Regal 5-1000mhz splitter. Initially when hooked up I only receved several channels that were clear. I went on the pole and removed a Arcom DDR-5/jjj filter and then connected the cable direct on the pole. Now, I got all the cable stations clear however, the modem dont work now. Is this Arcom DDR-5 needed to make the modem work? I even tried to hook the filter inside the house inline to the modem and it still didnt work. This sounds impossible. modem works when filter is on the pole but doesn't when the filter is hooked up inside the house?? how can this be? Please help.

It's not that complicated. Not that complicated, that is, until something goes wrong. Then it's horribly complicated. But let me try and break it down the best way I know:

Generally, you should be able to simply put a splitter somewhere behind the cable modem, jump off one side of the splitter to the modem, and the other side to the TV.

However, sometimes when you hook it up, it just doesn't work. If it doesn't work, read on:

There ARE filters that the cable company can use to keep you from stealing cable TV. The filters block ALL TV channels. They don't always have them in stock when they do your modem installation (in fact, it's an epidemic. Neither Cox nor AT&T when I worked for them ever seemed to have these things...) Unless you have digital phone service, they are installed at the tap (up on the pole or in the green CCTV box outside), with locks and/or security sleeves over them (and security sleeves over the end of the cable that is coming out of the tap) to keep you from removing them or cutting the cable. Provided you have a 28-foot ladder, you can climb up there and maybe the cable guy didn't do his job right and didn't put the filter or security sleeves up there. Or maybe he put them on the side of your house.

There are also filters that are used to keep your electronic equipment from seding any signals back through the cable. These are called "High-Pass filters" at Cox, and "mitigation filters" at AT&T. The cable company puts these inline with all the TVs, but not the cable modem. Since these block upstream signals, putting one inline with a cable modem would prevent it from from working. (This is also most of the reason why you can't just take your cable modem and hook it up to a different outlet.)

Get RG-6 cable. RG-59 *might* work, but probably not. In case somebody tells you that they have 300ft of RG-59 on the side of their house and their cable modem works fine, there is an exception. Quad-shielded RG-59, in my experience, is better than RG-6, but you cannot buy it in retail stores.

Cable modems operate in the range of -15 to +15dBmV, with some being finicky above +5dBmV. (Digital cable boxes have a similar range.) Some modems have a web-based info/configuration, which will tell you how much signal it's getting.

2-way splitters typically decrease signal strength by 3.5dBmV. If you split, and the cable modem ceases to work, you have probably choked the signal too much.

The splitter has to be able to pass a frequency of 1GHz, or 1000MHz. This information will be written on the splitter. A Radio Shack special is a no go.

Go outside, on your house where the cable comes in from the street and look for attenuation devices. They're sneaky, most of them look like splitters, but they'll have something written on them that tells you which output ports are attenuated and by how much in dBmV. (the most common type is attenuated on one port, but not the other one.) Play with the configuration of these until you get enough signal.

If you just simply don't have enough signal for both a TV and a cable modem, there ARE *bi-directional* amplifiers for this purpose. Sometimes the cable company will sell you one for about $50. I don't know of anywhere else to get a bi-directional amplifier. Your average TV signal amplifier will not work, since it won't pass outgoing signals.

Well, I hope I've explained it so that you guys can go out and get that cable modem or TV up and running on whatever outlet you want.

I should have been more specific than 'somewhere behind the cable modem'. Unscrew the cable from the back of the modem, and attach it to the 'in' port on a 1000Mhz 2-way splitter. Get 2 more RG-6 cables, and run one cable from one of the splitter's 'out' ports to the modem, and the other cable from the other 'out' port to the TV.

As mentioned in another post, you may get a messed up picture because you aren't using a high-pass filter. But, then again, you may not. If you want to be a responsible hacker, you can go out in the box on the side of your house and see if they left an extra one. (maybe attached to an outlet that you're not using?)

Congatulations, you took the inititive to pay attention. and the precations to prevent the felony charge. Although, the damaged trap is good evidence against you , while the trap just missing could be tech mistake. But hell, I don't know of anyone that would catch that one. If the traps is there I'd call it good with out even think of checking levels. Shit, with that much work into it I'd say you almost deserve it.

Reminds me of the old catalitic converter trick on your cars exhaust.


When I hook the cable from the outlet to the T.V., I get perfect reception. The only problem is that I just get the local channels and then like 3 more. Does anyone have any idea of why this might be? (I get like 1-17 perfect reception, then 1 or 2 off in the 70's that are fuzzy)

One thing that no one has addressed in ANY of these threads is the quality of the connector. Cable modems and TVs need a clean signal. Most cable companys use "Snap'N'Seal" connectors. This style of connector is much better than the "crimp" style and is less prone to signal leaks. I'm not stating that these are mandatory but they really help.

regards to the DDR-5/jjj
try opening your cctv box and tacking out all the filters in there note some filter take out otheres bring pay chanels in point being in rlc filtering theres whats know as the befor and after effect ie your puitting the DDR-5/jjj after an exsisting filter and making the problem even worse by reversing the filtering properties

AT&T just installed a filter on my broadband line inside the CCTV box to prevent me from receiving free TV. The filter has some type of metal collar attached to it that prevents me from taking it off. Can someone tell me what type of tool I need to remove this thing ?? Also, where can I purchase this tool ?? Thanks....

Hey thanks for the valuable info. I'm tring to tap into my neighbor's line. Ive got it hooked up already straight to my TV but i don't have a box or a modem. I get some bullsh*t channels but not the good stuff......any suggestions on boxes/modems? any info would help from anyone

i'm just browsing and really dont know anything but in regards to replacing the trap, it seems to me best to simply try to reattach the removed trap in a way where it is still 100% originally intact internally but not connected correctly or somehow disconnect part of the internals without doing any damage.

or simply place some cheese in the inside and hope a rat comes along...

I have a question for you. I bought a tv tunner card for my computer, the purpose is to be able to watch cable tv on my computer. I ran the RG-6 cable wire from the wall to a spliter(standard spliter), and i split one end to the cable modem and the other end to the tv tuner card where it has a cable connector. As a result, i got pretty much all the basic channels, but they are very fuzzy. could you tell me how to get better signals? thanks a lot.

Thanks for your insight, you seem to have a good knowledge base.

Question: Local cable company is sweeping the area and installing basic "traps" or "filters" to block channels that aren't paid for. I suscribe to basic tv and own a cable modem for broadband and have been receiving all channels w/o problems until this recent install.

I know they have some special tool for a hex or star lock on the CCTV box. How hard it is to get this tool? Or get into the box some other way? Would it be hard to remove the filter?

If this is difficult or taking a major chance, I won't do it. But if you have any insight, I would appreciate it.

Is there any way to receive all the channels I was getting before while this filter is still in place?

Thanks in advance...look forward to some insight!

I have the same problem after I remove an Arcom DDR8-24/75 filter outside in the cable box. The modem works fine after i replace the filter, but does not work without it in the box outside. Also, if I hook the filter directly up to the modem in my house, the modem still dosen't work.

Anyone know what's going on here?

> The splitter has to be able to pass a frequency of 1GHz, or 1000MHz. This information will be written on the splitter. A Radio Shack special is a no go.>

how about one labeled 5-1000MHZ?

Well, your at least on the right track. Keep studying though. If your serious about your cable carreer check out NCTI for real training. There is no reason at all, why quad 59 is better than quad 6. If your talking about quad 59 vs dual 6, it depends on the area. Is distance a bigger issue than shielding or vise versa? It's too bad about your local op center being lame on traps, I have enough to go around in my van.

Most cable companies now run aprox. 90 VAC along the coax to power VoIP. Take a multimeter and check your voltages with and without the traps installed. If you're recieving anything over 5 VAC you've removed something other than a trap and you're running the risk of damaging ANYTHING connected.

In addition, if you have an underground installation there will be a current limiting system from a company called DropCheck installed. It consists of a unit on the headend and a mating unit on the house. Any deviation in the power level will disconnect the signal. Rather than an anti-tampering device, it's to prevent someone from getting electrocuted if the line is hit while digging, like a GFCI.

Any connection must be made AFTER both devices (if present) to keep everything working.

The Arcom filters can be decoded as follows:


DDR - Band Reject Model
8 - # of poles
60/65 - Channels Blocked

I had the cox cable service disconnect me too. They also installed this security sleeve. Does anyone know how to remove it? What type of tool is required. I would assume nothing more than a 'vice-grip'?

The green CCTV boxes (called 'pedestals') have several different types of locks. The most common one is a star-shape. That one can be opened (without destroying the lock) with a pair of needle-nosed pliers. Another type of lock is a miniature master-lock.

The metal box on the wall of an apartment building is usually secured with a key that is pretty common in the lock world... I have had several of these in the past, that came with bike locks and such. It is the same shape as a keyboard-lock or an elevator key (but not the same size), round, with a tab on one edge.

Keep in mind that opening these two types of boxes is ILLEGAL!! Even if it seems to be on your property, believe me, there is a property easement around it.

The plastic box on the side of a house is usually secured with a plastic lock, a zip tie, or a cable fitting. The plastic things can be cut through with wire cutters and the cable fitting can be removed with a completely legal specialty tool sold at cable supply stores such as They might also use a metal Master lock. (One of the same locks that they use on pedestals.) If you have any kind of connections whatsoever, keys for these should be easy to come by, as all the keys and locks are interoperable with each other, and each lock comes with 2 keys. Some cable installers have a stash of them. If you don't, then breaking the lock is another option. Remember, the box is there to keep water (and animals, which REALLY like to chew on the cable) off your cable, so don't destroy it, and close it and secure it when you're done!

> Thanks For all your help
To prevent piracy, cable companies typically put filters at the cable box to prevent access to video signals or additional premium channels that aren't on a subscription order. The filters are supposed to stop subscribers from viewing channels they didn't pay for. In the case of a consumer subscribing to only a cable modem line, the provider might place a filter on that line to stop the video signal for cable TV.

But a hacker can obtain analog cable access to a television through a computer's cable modem by splitting the line with something like a TV tuner--widely available at electronics stores--at the filter's source. In addition, filters often aren't installed with the cable modem line, so it takes little effort on the part of an experienced hacker.

This is possible because the cable modem line contains the spectrum of signals needed to view analog cable and get high-speed data service. If the filter comes off or is not installed, the Internet access subscriber can run the cable modem line into the television and receive basic cable.

If you tapped into your neighbors line your getting what he's paying for. If he only has $10 a month basic, thats what your getting. Does your cable company offer local telephone service? If so be carefull. I love seeing people steal cable from there neighbor who has or gets DTS (digital telephony service) installed and ends up getting 90 Volts AC sent to their TV. I'm serious too. The voltage's not supposed to pass through splitters, but I've seen it happen. If your neighbor has a trapped line, there is no cable box that will help, the traps completly remove the signal of channels not paid for.


hey thanks in advance
Im useing a 10db 50- 450 mhz signal amp to get cable TV. The problem is that often when you change the chanel the picture is very faint and has a lot of static. This goes away in about 5 seconds. i have it set up like this:

in from street -

Here's what you break off the male end of the security sleeve ( with a pair of pliers or something, its flimsy eanough )...then inside the sleeve you will see 2 notches that are paralell to each other. Get a small flat head screwdriver, slip it into one of the notches and turn counterclockwise until the sleeve comes off...forget about buying the tool..vise grip will not work.

-your local disgruntled cable technician

> But a hacker can obtain analog cable access to a television through a computer's cable modem by splitting the line with something like a TV tuner--
What is a TV tuner?
widely available at electronics stores--at the filter's source. In addition, filters often aren't installed with the cable modem line, so it takes little effort on the part of an experienced hacker. >

the tool itself is difficult to find. I don't think any place will sell them to the general public. It's like a very thin wall socket with a slot cut in it. You would probably have better luck stealing one off a cable guy than trying to buy one. The sleeves them selves are pretty tough, although not to tought to defeat. If I told you exactly how to do it you would probabably feel real dumb for not thinking of it. Take another look, it's not the sleeve you need to attack.

thats just a lazy question. do you want someone to come over and hold your hand too? you know what cable looks like, you should beable to figure out what a splitter looks like. put some thought into it would ya?


Is there any way I can open this plastic box outside my house without using the special "terminating tool" shown here:


I just need to know how this lock works. Then I can try and think up a way to use something around the house. It's a mystery to me. The lock looks like a hole the size of a quarter and there is what appears to be a hollow rod in the center of this hole with a screw surface. Someone mentioned that I can go at this with a pair of needle-nose pliers?

"Desperately trying to rip off Shaw"

A TV Tuner is the part inside your TV or cable box that locks on to specific frequencies called "channels" so that we can watch thought-provoking network programming such as 'Jerry Springer.' You can see that most of us have 2 or 3 of these devices already. So somehow I don't think the previous poster meant 'tuner.' Maybe a descrambler?

But a descrambler may or may not work, because the newest generations of TV filters do not scramble the TV signals. They block them. It's true that cable installers often forget to install the TV filters, or can't instll them because, at least in my experience, they're in chronically short supply. Good luck!

Big help!

My case is that I can see the pictures for cable channels, but not clear. If I use a 5-1000MHz splitter, the pictures are even worse. The best I can get is without any spliter. How can I get the signal stronger? As you said, if there is a filter, then I shouldn't receive anything. But I have got a blurred signal, what can I do?

Thanks a billion!

MAybe you should try a 2 -port bi-directional cable tv amplifier. They say there have been accounts where the modem reliablity got better and the tv picture was perfect. I cant vouch for it because im still reading all the site i can find out about this. The main thing im worried about is reverse dB loss. Im not sure if this effects my upload? and if the company will read the 4dB decrease.

Im thinking of attachin a reverse amplifiers to increase the 5 - 42 mhz signal but also dont know if this will mess it up more than fix it. Is there a device that can help me read the signal strenght on my line so i can play around with it to get it perfect?

Hi, today is my first time here. I just went out and looked at my box. I have Comcast broadband and the very basic cable TV. Which is local channels. Tired of paying their outrageous fees. Anyway looked at my box attached to my house. After trying a few things finally got in. This is what I had to do. Put a flat screw driver into the center of the lock. Use a crew driver that has a blade wide enough to fit in that center hole snugly. Now you want to grab the outer housing that spins with a pair of long nose vise grips. Once you have a secure hold on the outer housing with the vise grips, start to turn the screw driver to your left (counter clockwise). If the screw driver is in there tight enough it will start to loosen the lock. Just keep turning screw driver until the whole thing falls off.

Now I have a question. As I said I am new at this. Now that I have the box open I see what resembles a 3 way splitter. It has an (in)-(out) and a (tap) male connection. On it says (Regal RDCT 10-9 9 dB 5-1000mhz 110 dB EMI Installation Tap) On the (in) side I have the cable coming from the box by the street. On the (out) side is a white cable going into the house to my modem. On the (tap) side the cable is going into a silver cylinder shaped thing which I am assuming is some sort of filter. On it is says Lagel Comtronics. The black cable coming out of it is going to my TV.

What do I have to do in this box now to try and get free cable??? Don't tell me to go back and read, I read a lot of it, but don't know the nomenclature of some of the things mentioned.

what kind of cable modem do you have? most cable modems can be acces be typing "" into the address field of any web browser (IE). or the 3COM 'sharkfin' can be accessed by typing '3comcablemodem'. look for as link that says 'signal' you are looking for the downstream power level and the upstream power level. downstream should be about -5 to 0, but is ok from -10 to +5. upstream should be around 35-45, ok up to 55. most cable modems can only transmit 59-61, so if your upstream power levels gets too close to that (60), you could start having truble keeping block sync. (no bock sync=no internet)


I have an older signal amplifier that i purchased at rat-shack several years ago to use with a satellite tv setup i was using at the time. It is an inline booster with cable connections on each end but i don't know if they are currently available. it uses a power adapter that plugs to a wall socket. however, i do not know if it might cause interference in the cable modem connection, or overload it. i don't have the knowledge of how one might "overload" a cable modem or if it is possible. but....the boosters are still probably available.