Frequently Asked Questions    


Q: Where is my order? Why isn't it on time? How can I return a product?

Answer: For all of these questions you should go the the order page and contact AMAZON support for a resolution. Amazon performs all of the shipping and order processing, so we cannot tell you why your shipment is late, or provide an RMA. Amazon does it all.

Q: How can I contact you with a question?

Answer: On our Amazon page, Click on the "Have a question for Reliable Cable Products" button at the top of the window. We will make every effort to respond as quickly as possible. If you ask a question we use on our FAQ page, we will send you a free PCT Torque Tool ($5 value) as a thank you for helping us help our customers.

Q: Where should I install my new amplifier?

Answer: As close to the source as possible. Your amplifier needs a decent signal to amplify. It can help a lot depending on where it is installed and how many sets you are connecting, but it cannot transform a bad input signal into a fantastic output. It is just not possible. If you have cable TV, put the amplifier as close to where your cable provider brings the cable in, OR at the main junction point - where you have splitters or your distribution point. It is always better to eliminate splitters and use a multi-port amplifier than feed a single port amp into a rats nest of splitters. The goal is to remove ALL splitters if possible, to get all of the signal loss out of the system.

Garbage signal in = amplified garbage signal out.

If you have an antenna, install your amp as close to the antenna as you can get it, so that it can compensate for the cable run(s) going to your sets. If your picture does not improve the way you expect, you should look at the Over-the-Air Digital Television (OTA DTv) website. It is one of our favorites for reference and education. There are a lot of factors to consider in improving your HD signal, and the amplifier is only one thing in your toolbox.

Q: Can I use the amplifier with my satellite receiver?

Answer: No. The products manufactured by PCT and Motorola (Arris) are intended for use on cable TV  and antenna systems, NOT satellite. Although you might look at an amplifier as boosting a signal - no matter what type - they are actually very different designs for cable TV and satellite. Satellite receivers work at different frequencies than Cable TV systems, and they carry real voltage on the receiver lines. If you install one of our products on a satellite system, it will totally block the signal to the receiver. Satellite systems carry measurable voltage on the receiver lines - which can damage the PCT and Motorola products.

Q: Will an amplifier work with an Over-the-Air (OTA) HD antenna?

Answer:  We always answer this with a follow-up question: Is the antenna you are using amplified? We will also ask you for the make and model of your antenna. The next thing we do is Google to find the specs and see if the manufacturer has a "built in" amplifier, or an "in line" amplifier as part of the package. This is VERY important. If your antenna already has an amplifier, our expectation is that another amplifier - our product -  will not help your situation, and in fact might make it worse. You would think that installing a multi-port amplifier connected to your amplified antenna is OK. This is incorrect. Connecting 2 amplifiers back to back can cause undesirable effects which include total loss of channels, audio dropouts, and pixilation. Aren't those the very reasons you installed an amplifier or better antenna in the first place? Yep. Exactly. See the NEXT QUESTION for more detail on that.
If your antenna is NOT amplified, then the chances are very good that the amplifier can help you. Your best chances of success are to install the amplifier as close as possible to the antenna - perhaps close by in the attic, under the eaves (weather protected), or in an outdoor enclosure like the Keptel CG-1000. There will always be homes that have HD reception issues, and it is not because you received a defective amplifier. Defects are RARE.

Q: Can I use 2 amplifiers to boost the signal even more?

When one amplifier feeds another without some sort of signal reduction in between them, the result is that the signal gets clipped. What is clipping? It is not just a football term. What it means is that when a signal has a high level, and then gets amplified further, the high points will get clipped off the signal as they exceed the capabilities of the amplifier. For example, when you use a PA system at full volume, and talk normally, your voice is very loud. but if you YELL into the fully amplified PA system what happens? Your voice gets broken up, distorted, and maybe you even get some bad feedback from the speakers. Not what you desired. Essentially back to back amplifiers do the same thing. One boosts the signal to a "LOUD" level, and then the second one can't boost it any further without cutting off the peaks, which are essential to getting a complete, stable picture. So if you have an amplified antenna and then you installed a product that you bought from us, the channel reception may get worse (or maybe just does not improve at all). Try a regular splitter. Also try going to the Over-the-Air Digital Television (OTA DTv) website for further tips.

Q: Will a 1-port amplifier give me more power than an 8-port model?

Answer:  Yes and no. It all depends on what happens AFTER the amplifier. Also - more power is not always better. Increasing the power of the cable signal also creates the opportunity to create something called DISTORTION, which is not good for your picture or data connections (cable modem). That is also the reason you should never use more than one amplifier without professional advice or design.

If you place a 1-port amplifier on a cable line before a couple splitters, it is probably no different than if you REPLACE the splitters with a 4 or 8-port amplifier. The goal is to reduce signal degrading connections. Splitters are notorious for causing problems. Not only that, they add extra connections into the cable line. You want to eliminate as many connection points as possible and keep the cable as "clean" as possible.

Q:  I have Verizon FIOS. Will my amplifier work with their equipment?

Answer:  Great question. In some circumstances it will work fine - depending on your location and what type of equipment is installed in your home. In the case of NEWER installations, you may find that installing an amplifier - especially a multi-port version - causes your services to work intermittently or fail. Verizon FIOS often requires something called MoCA support in order to work. MoCA uses the cable line not only for cable signals, but also to send data between the devices in different rooms (DVRs, Cable Modems, etc). Installing an amplifier which does not have MoCA support is not wise to do if you have a FIOS installation.

Products with guaranteed compatibility with FIOS services are the PCT MAB-F14P (Passive Return) and the PCT VC-F19A (Active Return). But even these products have limitations when it comes to the most advanced cable offerings - where the cable company installs the main gateway OUTSIDE your home.

Q: I have a cable modem. Will an amplifier speed up my internet?  

Answer:  The short answer is no. The long answer is that Active Return amplifiers can make it easier for your cable modem to "talk back" to the cable company. If the "talk back" is easier the cable modem can become more reliable and maintain a better connection. You may perceive a speed increase, but it is not the speed - it is just the reliability of the connection. Think of it like a cell signal. When you have no dropouts you take it for granted - but when you get into a crummy cell area, and you start losing bits of words, you ask your friend to repeat what they just said. Same thing happens with cable modems. If the Cable Modem temporarily loses connection or "drops some bits" then the data has to be retransmitted which makes things appear slower. You will still be subject to any speed caps from your internet provider even if you install Active Return.

If you are concerned about the performance of your cable modem, most cable companies allow you to look at the cable modem to see its health. If you have not yet purchased a  product you need to do a quick cable modem check. For a short tutorial on this - look HERE.

Active Return Amplifiers: PCT-VC9U, PCT-VC-F19A, PCT MAB1015-1A, PCS-MAB1015-4A

Q: I installed the amplifier and now I have even more problems. It is defective!  

Answer:  Unlikely. The products we sell are rock solid from a quality view, and they have less than a 0.1% (that is one-tenth of one percent) defect rate. An amplifier does exactly what it is designed to do... amplify a signal. The problem is usually with the signal that the amplifier has to work with.

GARBAGE IN = GARBAGE OUT or in other words BAD SIGNAL IN = AMPLIFIED BAD SIGNAL OUT. The point of an amplifier is to take a GOOD signal and make it stronger, not take a marginal or bad signal and fix it. An amplifier is not a fixer-upper, it is an insurance policy. If you amplify your signal BEFORE it gets weak or damaged, you have a much better chance of good reception at the TV or cable modem. So let's look at it from the perspective of your home wiring.

When the cable signal hits your house it is supposed to meet certain FCC requirements for strength and noise. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. Basically when the cable company has an issue, they hope that the signal is "good enough" even if it does not meet the requirements. If they can get the equipment working with a marginal signal, and you don't complain, it is a win for their business. If you do complain, they may play an excuse, tech support, or "truck roll" game which doesn't fix the problem, but at least keeps you - the customer - busy trying to get their problems fixed.

Every time the cable signal goes through a connector or splitter it has an opportunity to mess things up. Bad connectors are notorious for causing problems, which include low signal, intermittent shorts (loss of signal), reflections - which cause interference inside the cable, or just add noise which ultimately results in audio dropouts, screen pixilation or cable modem drops. If you don't get the idea yet, let me make it clear - every time the cable has a connector or splitter the signal gets degraded a little bit. Your goal is to minimize the connections, and minimize the noise and signal loss caused by the connections.

Q: Fine - you say it is not defective, but it does not work for me and I want a refund!  

Answer:  The answer is another question. Do you want a good picture and/or working cable modem, or a refund? Unfortunately with cut-throat competition, and low profit margins we cannot provide direct advice to every customer. What we can do is give you some things to try to fix the problem with what you bought. It is much more likely that you bought the wrong product, installed it in a not-so-good way, or have some other problem than that the amplifier is defective. Please do not return it as "defective" until you know it is bad. Look through the information here, try a few things, and if necessary return the wrong item and order what you really need (based on reading here or asking us). Look through our Amazon feedback and you will see that we have a TON of customers who swear that an amplifier worked for them. In most cases it can work for you too. Let's see if we can help you.

Q: After installing the amp, why is my picture worse?  

Answer:  Is the green power LED lit? An amplifier that is not plugged in works like a very bad splitter. It will block a lot of signal. Power is required for the amplifier to do it's job.
Answer:  Are all the connectors tight and in good shape? Loose connectors and bad cables are very common problems, and connecting an amplifier to one of them could knock out the signal altogether.
Answer:  Make sure the center wire on the cable connector is sticking out far enough to connect with the amplifier properly. If the center wire is too far back (bad connection) then you will not have a good connection.
Answer:  Where did you install the amp? If you put the amp right behind your TV or cable box and expected it to improve things, it just proved you wrong. Remember the whole goal is to PREVENT the signal from getting degraded. If the picture stinks at your TV and you install an amp there, you will get an amplified, stinky picture. You need to move the amp to a point where you know the signal is good. Then the GOOD signal can be boosted to your problem device.