Cable television is on the cutting edge of communications
technology. The changes now sweeping America’s telecommunications
industry-which promise to revolutionize how we access entertainment and
information-clearly point to a continued leadership role for the cable
industry and its vast communications network, now available to 97% of
American homes. By the end of this decade, cable will have invested
at least $14 billion in new technology to offer world-class voice, video,
data and wireless communications services.
Cable systems typically transmit their television signal through a
combination of fiber optics and coaxial cable-a high capacity "broad
band" capable of carrying at least 1,000 times more information than
the ordinary copper twisted pair telephone wire and 100 times faster than
ISDN (integrated services digital network) phone lines. The wiring
of America by the cable industry has resulted in the country’s single
largest private construction project since World War II.
cable industry’s existing coaxial cable network, coupled with its
continued development and deployment of advanced technologies, positions
it to lead the way on America’s "information superhighway."
Fiber optic technology uses very thin strands of glass to carry light
signals generated by laser transmitters. Fiber optic cable can carry
television signals for long distances without losing much power.
Fiber offers cable systems the opportunity to greatly increase channel
capacity, improve system reliability, reduce operating costs and improve
signal quality. About half of all cable customers are now served
through fiber-enhanced cable lines. In 1995, cable increased fiber
deployment by nearly 20 percent of 1994; telephone companies, in contrast,
increased their deployment by only three and half percent. Virtually
all cable companies are now installing fiber, and most systems will be
upgraded within the next few years-creating the most advanced and
multifaceted communications network in the world.
The average cable television system currently offers over 40 channels of
programming. Consumer demand for even more variety and choice in
television has led to the development of technology called "digital
compression," which will significantly expand channel capacity.
Compressing the normal video signal through digital
transmission allows for more information to be transmitted over existing
cable wires. The primary benefit of digital compression will be for
cable systems to offer subscribers additional choices, such as specialized
niche programming, greatly expanded pay-per-view channels, interactive or
The marriage of computer software and hardware with the cable industry's
high capacity distribution network will soon yield an astonishing family
of entertainment and information services for consumers and business.
An important component of the new generation of digital services is the
set-top converter box that will contain computer chips to store, navigate,
manipulate and manage the profusion of information and entertainment
options available to cable subscribers.
The advent of advanced digital and computer technology is setting the
stage for a new era of interactive television. The cable television
industry is well-suited to deliver interactive programs and services,
because its high-capacity network can move vast quantities of information
quickly and can be upgraded to send signals to and from various points.
Most of cable's existing coaxial network is capable of
two-way communications. As technology progresses, cable subscribers
will be able to conduct research from electronic encyclopedias that
feature text, graphics, video and audio; select movies from thousands of
titles available on demand; pay bills; enroll in distance learning
courses; shop and make purchases at home; or play a video game with a
friend across town.
Cable television systems currently provide a high capacity, high
speed broad band connection to homes, schools, and businesses through
coaxial cable and fiber optic networks. The addition of cable modem
technology enables customers to access a wide range of multimedia content
including graphics, audio, and video from all over the world at high rates
cable television industry is branching out from its traditional role as an
entertainment service industry into a high speed data service industry.
Cable television systems were originally designed as one-way, analog
transmission system utilizing coaxial cable. However, to support the
recent growth in demand for Internet access and other two-way services,
many cable companies are in the midst of upgrading their existing coaxial
cable systems with fiber optic technology. These hybrid
fiber-coaxial, or HFC, networks allow cable systems to provide reliable of
existing cable television services, as well as new services such as high
speed data delivery and continuous, high speed access to the Internet.
SPEED CABLE MODEM: APPLICATIONS FOR HOME, SCHOOL AND BUSINESS
Cable modems open the door for customers to enjoy a wide range of
high-speed data services, all at speeds hundreds of times faster than
traditional telephone modems. Subscribers will be fully connected,
24 hours a day, to services without interfering with their existing cable
television or telephone service. Among the services supported by
cable modem technology are:
Access- providing electronic mail, chat groups, and access to the
World Wide Web. Cable's high speed access means images download
faster, transforming Internet access from a waiting game to an
efficient, robust experience.
Applications- interconnecting LANs or supporting collaborative work;
transmission of large amounts of data from one site to another.
- Telecommuting- enabling employees to work from home,
yet access business files quickly and efficiently.
allowing students to quickly access educational resources from around
the world, making the Internet a vital tool to students and teachers,
both in the classroom and at home.
Information Services- access to local
shopping, data bases, weather maps, household bill paying services,
HIGH SPEED INTERNET ACCESS SERVICE
The Cable industry's broad band network is uniquely suited to accessing
the vast amounts of information available on the Internet. Cable's
network infrastructure can currently carry data over 1,000 times faster
than the telephone companies twisted pair copper lines and 100 times
faster than ISDN (integrated services digital network) telephone lines.
Access to the Internet and information service providers over cable lines
provides customers with two primary benefits: speed and freedom. The
higher bandwidth of cable's fiber-coax lines provides faster data
transmission speeds than traditional telephone lines, and the since access
is provided over existing coaxial connections to customer's homes, the
cable connection does not interfere with normal telephone activity.
COMPARATIVE DATA TRANSMISSION SPEEDS
Time to Transmit a Single 1 MB Graphic Image (Such as a high resolution
Modem 28.8 kb
Modem 10 mbps
Transmit a 5 Mb Audio/Video Clip (Video Clip approximately 1.5 minutes
Modem 28.8 kbps
Modems 10 Mbps
[kbps = kilobits per second, Mbps= megabits per second]
The television industry has a long-standing, on-going commitment to
education. Through cable's state -of-the-art technology,
quality programming, and education initiatives, the industry provides a
range of learning resources to America's families and children.
IN THE CLASSROOM
Cable in the Classroom, founded in 1989, is the cornerstone of the cable
industry's commitment to education. It represents an investment of
over $420 million by the cable industry to enhance the resources available
to teachers, students and their schools for improving education. To
date, local cable systems have provided free cable hook-ups and free
monthly service to 75,000 schools in all 50 states. Cable
networks provide teachers and students with more than 540 hours per month
of educational, commercial free programming to compliment current
FAMILY AND COMMUNITY CRITICAL VIEWING PROJECT
The Family and Community Critical Viewing Project trains cable and PTA
leaders nationwide in the elements of "critical viewing" and in
conducting Taking Charge of Your TV workshops. Many parents and
educators in more than 36 states have participated in local workshops.
The goal of the project is to help families make informed choices about
the TV programs they watch, and to improve the way they watch these
programs. The critical viewing workshops and materials offer
concrete steps to help parents teach their children to be smarter, more
critical TV viewers, and provide strategies to address parent's concerns
about TV violence and commercialism.
Taking Charge of Your TV project is now complemented by a new video
featuring Rosie O’Donnell. The video, available free-of-charge
through an 800-number, will broaden the reach of the critical viewing
project, offering the program's fundamentals to families and organizations
Cable's state-of-the-art technology has provided additional learning
opportunities. Cable systems across the country deliver instruction
and learning opportunities from leading universities and other continuing
education providers directly to the home. Distance learning through
cable also allows both rural and urban school districts to make better use
of resources by enabling students from several schools to attend classes
and interact with teachers via live television connections.
This allows schools to offer courses which otherwise may be prohibitively
expensive, or for which strong enough demand may not exist within one
school. Today, students are afforded such opportunities as virtual
"electronic field trips," where they have the chance to
interact, in real-time via satellite along with experts on-location at the
Berlin Wall, the rain forests of Costa Rica, the plains of Kenya, and many
other exciting destinations.
above is an adaptation of information presented on the National Cable
Television Associations Web site, WWW.NCTA.COM
Additional information taken from educational resources published by
Falcon Cable TV, Tele-Communications, Inc.]