My splitter is at the wall similar to yours. I'm sure the surge protector does degrade the signal somewhat although it's probably marginal. Also, I have a friend who used to work for Comcast (AT&T then). According to him the number of splitters you run without ghosting or signal degredation varies in different areas. (You can also run active splitters / powered splitters" instead of the Walmart brand passive splitters) For passive units, it largely depends on how many houses are served from the nearest hut. Comcast mainly has fiber to the curb in most metro areas so it's no longer dependant on how far you are from the cable head-end.