Why does an iPad ruin my cable signal?

Something’s wrong with my cable service. That’s a given. Repair person is supposed to come to look at it today. We have a TV and internet package. Very often the TV picture will begin to pixelate, and often this will lead to a complete freeze of the image on the TV screen. This is while watching any channel on our cable system.

But while this can happen fairly arbitrarily, I’ve also discovered that we can force it to happen by streaming video over the internet connection on a mobile device or computer and watching cable TV at the same time. When we do this, the cable signal becomes unstable.

It’s maddeningly consistent. Play a YouTube video on a device (iPhone, iPad, Mac), and within about 30 seconds we’ll see the picture on our TV, while tuned to any cable TV channel, start to get pixelated in spots. It kind of comes and goes every few seconds. Often this will culminate in a complete freeze of the cable signal – the picture freezes and the sound cuts off. Change to another channel and that channel will be fine, and if we change back to the original channel, it too is fine again. But if we keep streaming that YouTube video on the other device, the TV picture will soon begin to pixelate again and, sometimes, eventually freeze again. Stop the YouTube video, and the cable signal generally remains stable.

What has me a little perplexed is that I’ve narrowed down the main offender to a 2017 iPad Pro. When we do this video-streaming experiment, all of our other devices (2012 MacBook Pro, 2012 iPad, iPhones 6, 7, and 8) will cause some disruption to the TV picture. But only the 2017 iPad Pro can actually cause the cable signal to grind to a halt, often within just a minute or two.

All of our devices connect to the internet wirelessly via an Airport Time Capsule. I know nothing about networking, but from my layman’s perspective, it appears as though something in the network in our house is allowing an imbalance in the bandwidth – that is, the internet signal is taking up too much bandwidth, which disrupts the cable signal. But why would the iPad Pro in particular have this power to shut it down altogether? Does the iPad (which is the newest of all of our devices) have the ability to suck up even more bandwidth than the other devices?

What is your advertised download speed? http://Fast.com is a good site for a quick check.

I only have 1 tv, an iPad, and a iPhone operating during the day. And my 25 mb download speed is not enough to reliably stream video on two devices at the same time.

The technician who came to the house said we had a bad switch and replaced it. He said that while it’s not typical to see internet usage intrude on the cable signal like ours was doing, he wasn’t surprised by it, given the state of the switch.

I didn’t expect it to be resolved that quickly. I thought there’d be more testing and waiting. So the issue is gone now, thank goodness.

Our plan gives us “up to 60M,” and my tests just now at fast.com all came in around 58 to 61.

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Good news, glad they solved your problem.