How to Activate a Basic Cable TV Outlet

By Heather Bliss

When faced with a budget squeeze, entertainment services like premium cable can be the first to go. Cutting your cable service down to basic channels can be a way to ease the pressure and still enjoy some of your favorite programs. Basic cable television is a helpful community tool, since it offers an inexpensive way to stay connected to local news, sports, weather, and emergency announcements. With a subscription to a cable service from a local provider and a TV with a built-in tuner, you can get your basic cable outlet activated in a few easy steps.

Things You'll Need

  • Telephone
  • Cable provider
  • Cable TV wall outlet(s)
  • Antenna cable

Step 1

Find out who provides cable television service in your local area. One way is to check the information packet you received when you changed your address at the post office. The welcome packet for an address change often contains coupons and information about local utilities. Major cable providers include Cox, Comcast, Charter, Adelphia, Earthlink and Time Warner.

Step 2

Look to see if there are any cable TV wall outlets in your new residence--or if there are enough, should you want to connect more than one television to the service.

Step 3

Call the cable provider and request that your outlet--or outlets--for basic cable be activated. The cable company may charge a connection fee, and you may need to make an appointment to have a technician come to your home to activate the service. Additional outlets in your home may need to be individually activated or installed by the technician.

Step 4

If the cable TV service provider is able to activate your service remotely (usually while you're still on the phone), you'll need to connect the TV to the cable outlet with a standard antenna cable. Just plug one end into the wall outlet and hand-tighten, then plug the other end into the plug in the back of your TV that looks exactly like the wall plug.

Step 5

If yours is a "cable-ready" TV, use the TV menu to set it on "CATV" (or simply "cable" on some sets); be sure it's not set on "antenna" or something similar. If necessary, you'll also be prompted to run "Channel Programming" or similar prompt. Doing that will "tell" your TV to accept the channels from your cable provider.

Tips & Warnings

  • If your television has a TV tuner built-in, you don't need a converter box to get basic cable.
  • Don't worry if some of your favorite channels in the "basic" tier are broadcasting digitally and your television is not "digital-ready." The recent "Digital TV" federal mandate impacts only those who use antennas to receive TV signals.
  • When talking to the cable company, insist on basic cable with no converter box. Because few people opt for just basic cable with no upgrades, the telephone sales representative at the cable company may not be aware that you can order basic cable without paying for a converter box.

References & Resources