How Cable television works
Cable television is a system of providing television programs to consumers via radio frequency (RF) signals transmitted to televisions through coaxial cables or digital light pulses through fixed optical fibers located on the subscriber's property. This can be compared to over-the-air method used in traditional broadcast television (via radio waves) in which a television antenna is required. FM radio programming, high-speed Internet, telephony, and similar non-television services may also be provided through cable television.
Most American television sets are cable-ready and have a cable television tuner capable of receiving cable TV already built-in that is delivered as an analog signal (UK televisions are set up to receive Freeview digital terrestrial broadcasting). To obtain premium television most televisions require a set top box called a cable converter that processes digital signals. The majority of basic cable channels can be received without a converter or digital television adapter that the cable companies usually charge for, by connecting the copper wire with the F connector to the Ant In that is located on the back of the television set.
The abbreviation CATV is often used to mean "Cable TV". It originally stood for Community Access Television, from cable television's origins in 1948: in areas where Over-the-air reception was limited by distance from transmitters or mountainous terrain, large "community antennas" were constructed, and cable was run from them to individual homes. The origins of cable broadcasting are even older as radio programming was distributed by cable in some European cities as far back as 1924.
Other cable-based services
Coaxial cables are capable of bi-directional carriage of signals as well as the transmission of large amounts of data. Cable television signals use only a portion of the bandwidth available over coaxial lines. This leaves plenty of space available for other digital services such as cable internet, cable telephony and wireless services, using both unlicensed and licensed spectrum.
Broadband Internet is achieved over coaxial cable by using cable modems to convert the network data into a type of digital signal that can be transferred over coaxial cable. One problem with some cable systems is the older amplifiers placed along the cable routes are unidirectional thus in order to allow for uploading of data the customer would need to use an analog telephone modem to provide for the upstream connection. This limited the upstream speed to 31.2k and prevented the always-on convenience broadband internet typically provides. Many large cable systems have upgraded or are upgrading their equipment to allow for bi-directional signals, thus allowing for greater upload speed and always-on convenience, though these upgrades are expensive.
In North America, Australia and Europe many cable operators have already introduced cable telephone service, which operates just like existing fixed line operators. This service involves installing a special telephone interface at the customer's premises that converts the analog signals from the customer's in-home wiring into a digital signal, which is then sent on the local loop (replacing the analog last mile, or Plain old telephone service (POTS) to the company's switching center, where it is connected to the Public switched telephone network (PSTN). The biggest obstacle to cable telephone service is the need for nearly 100% reliable service for emergency calls. One of the standards available for digital cable telephony, PacketCable, seems to be the most promising and able to work with the Quality of Service (QOS) demands of traditional analog Plain old telephone service (POTS) service. The biggest advantage to digital cable telephone service is similar to the advantage of digital cable TV, namely that data can be compressed, resulting in much less bandwidth used than a dedicated analog circuit-switched service. Other advantages include better voice quality and integration to a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) network providing cheap or unlimited nationwide and international calling. Note that in many cases, digital cable telephone service is separate from cable modem service being offered by many cable companies and does not rely on Internet Protocol (IP) traffic or the Internet.
Beginning in 2004 in the United States, the traditional cable television providers and traditional telecommunication companies increasingly compete in providing voice, video and data services to residences. The combination of TV, telephone and Internet access is commonly called triple play regardless of whether CATV or telcos offer it.
More recently, several US cable operators have begun offering wireless services to their subscribers. Most notably was the September 2008 launch of Optimum Wi-Fi by Cablevision. This service is made available, at no additional cost, to Optimum Broadband subscribers, and is available at over 14,000 locations across Long Island, NY, parts of NJ and CT. Cablevision has reported a double digit reduction in subscriber churn since launching Optimum Wi-Fi, even as Verizon has rolled out FiOS, a competitive residential broadband service in the Cablevision footprint. Other Tier 1 cable operators, including Comcast, have announced trials of a similar service in sections of the US Northeast.
History and beginnings of Cable TV-originated live programs
During the 1980s, mandated regulations not unlike Public, educational, and government access (PEG) channels created the beginning of the Cable-originated live television program that evolved into what we know today in 2012 where many cable networks provide live cable-only broadcasts of many varieties, cable-only produced television movies, and miniseries. Various live local programs with local interests were rapidly being created all over the United States in most major television markets in the early 1980s. One of the first was with the local ATC broadcasting station in Columbus, Ohio, the company being based in Colorado at the time, where, in 1982, at the age of 16, while still in high school, Richard Sillman was one of if not the youngest Cable TV Director in the US of these live on-air Cable TV programs.
With the development of the internet, by the late 1990s and early 2000, much of that regulation had been replaced where newer industry technologies developed, offering viewers alternate choices for local events and programming leading to what is today, that being Digital Cable, Internet, and Phone being offered to consumers, bundled, by 2010.