Regarding splitting cable signal in the house

Here’s the deal.
We’ve recently started getting internet service from our cable provider. Additionally, we’re also now using Vonage for our phone service.
We’ve also got two televisions that we’d like to receive the cable signal as well.

Here’s my question…
What’s the best way to split the cable signal?
And is it worth the investment to buy the higher quality coaxial on which to run that signal?

The system may “require” the higher quality coaxial in order to work properly.

You should ensure that you get new coaxial, and not just something from your basement. All new coaxial cable is designed to handle the higher frequency signals that cable companies use for internet signals. Likewise, you may have to spend an extra two or three bucks on each splitter. Ensure that the splitter is able to handle anything from 5 MHz up to 900 MHz; this image shows a perfectly adequate splitter for your purposes.

Internet traffic is almost always carried in the lower frequencies of the transmitted CATV spectrum. Forward data is slotted somewhere between 70 to 130MHz; Reverse data is carried in the range between 5 to 42 MHz. There’s nothing wrong with your answer, though; you just arrived there for the wrong reason. The highest frequencies in the CATV spectrum are typically used for HD signals.

From the Society of Cable Televsion Engineers’ published standard titled: “Digital Cable Network Interface Standard”

Okay… all new coaxial in the house will be done.

Another question regarding the splitter…
As I see it, I have two options for splitting the signal once it comes inside my house.
1-Split the signal immediately using a three-way splitter and run one line each to the computer and the two televisions.
2-Split the signal twice. That is, once it comes into the house, split the signal immediately into two lines. Run line A directly to the computer. Then split line B into B1 and B2 to each television.

Will option #2 provide a better signal quality?

Okay, I know the scenario is more like an extension cord and not a garden hose… but please reassure me which way is better

You might ask the cable company for a splitter. The local cable tech replaced mine with one from his toolbox while he was troubleshooting a problem with poor signal strength. He said that the cable company supplied him with higher quality parts and cabling than the stuff found at the local Radio Shack store. Since the cable company is legally responsible for leakage from their system, even if caused by faulty customer premise wiring, they may be happy to assist you and ensure that the wiring is done properly.

Those are gonna be pretty much the same - at least they are if you use what’s called a balanced splitter for your two-ways. (Balanced meaning the two output legs are equal. You may also find unbalanced splitters; if you find and use one of these, you’ll wanna use the high output leg to feed the second two-way splitter.). A three-way splitter is nothing more than a device with two internal two-way splitters inside it. You’ll get one “hot” leg and two “down” legs out of the thing. Go here and open the .pdf for splitter spec. The three way is model #SSP-3-636N. The devices in here are all designed for outside plant on the CATV distribution network, but the electronics inside 'em are pretty much identical; the difference is really just the housing.
http://broadband.motorola.com/catalog/productdetail.asp?ProductID=199

Me? I’d use whatever configuration allows for the shortest cable runs. There’s a lot of loss in drop cable. You’re probably getting about 14dB to 18dB at the tap to your house at the upper frequency. You don’t wanna drop below 0dB at any the input to any attached appliance. You can find a cable loss calculator here: http://www.timesmicrowave.com/cgi-bin/calculate.pl and Wikipedia has a pretty good article here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coaxial_cable

If you’re doing all new wiring in the walls anyway, I’d suggest home runs from each TV/cable modem location to the point where the cable enters the house. Then, you can redo the splitter configuration yourself, or get the cable company to do it - when Comcast came out to hook up my new house, they just gave me the splitters & filters I needed. He installed a 2 way - 1 leg for internet, 1 for TV, then a 4 way downstream on the TV leg to get the signal for each TV. Having all the coax terminate at one location made that easy.