Cable Internet access
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In telecommunications, cable Internet access, shortened to cable Internet is a form of broadband Internet access that uses the cable television infrastructure. Like digital subscriber line and fiber to the premises services, cable Internet access provides network edge connectivity (last mile access) from the Internet service provider to an end user. It is integrated into the cable television infrastructure analogously to DSL which uses the existing telephone network. Cable TV networks and telecommunications networks are the two predominant forms of residential Internet access. Recently, both have seen increased competition from fiber deployments, wireless, and mobile networks.
Hardware and bit rates
Broadband cable Internet access requires a cable modem at the customer's premises and a cable modem termination system at a cable operator facility, typically a cable television headend. The two are connected via coaxial cable or a Hybrid Fiber Coaxial (HFC) plant. While access networks are sometimes referred to as last-mile technologies, cable Internet systems can typically operate where the distance between the modem and the termination system is up to 160 kilometres (99 mi). If the HFC network is large, the cable modem termination system can be grouped into hubs for efficient management.
Downstream, the direction toward the user, bit rates can be as much as 400 Mbit/s for business connections, and 250 Mbit/s for residential service in some countries. Upstream traffic, originating at the user, ranges from 384 kbit/s to more than 20 Mbit/s. One downstream channel can handle hundreds of cable modems. As the system grows, the cable modem termination system (CMTS) can be upgraded with more downstream and upstream ports, and grouped into hubs CMTS for efficient management.
Most Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS) cable modems restrict upload and download rates, with customizable limits. These limits are set in configuration files which are downloaded to the modem using the Trivial File Transfer Protocol, when the modem first establishes a connection to the provider's equipment. Some users have attempted to override the bandwidth cap and gain access to the full bandwidth of the system (often as much as 30 Mbit/s), by uploading their own configuration file to the cable modem - a process called uncapping. Uncapping is almost always a violation of the moral agreement.
Most residential broadband technologies, such as FTTX, Satellite Internet, or WiMAX, a population of users share the available bandwidth. Some technologies share only their core network, while some including Cable Internet and PON also share the access network. This arrangement allows the network operator to take advantage of statistical multiplexing, a bandwidth sharing technique which is employed to distribute bandwidth fairly, in order to provide an adequate level of service at an acceptable price. However, the operator has to monitor usage patterns and scale the network appropriately, to ensure that customers receive adequate service even during peak-usage times. If the network operator does not provide enough bandwidth for a particular neighborhood, the service can become sluggish if many people are using the service at the same time. Operators have been known to use a bandwidth cap, or other bandwidth throttling technique; users' download speed is limited during peak times, if they have downloaded a large amount of data that day.
Bundled service offerings
Many cable TV Internet access providers offer Internet access without tying it to a cable television subscription, but stand-alone cable Internet is purposely provided at higher rates—the extra cost is said to cover the cable line access much like phone companies charge a small line-access fee for having DSL Internet service without a phone subscription. There are those who allege that the higher stand-alone rates are not so much to more efficiently cover actually-increased cost as it is to compel the customer to bundle it with a cable television subscription (and thus to buy or lease a television receiver from the company). In the instances where a cable Internet customer insists on using stand-alone cable Internet, the cable TV signals are often removed by filtering at the line tap outside the customer's premises.
Meanwhile, Internet service providers (ISP) who purchase and then re-sell high-speed Internet access from, or through, cable companies (such as TekSavvy in Ontario) are generally not subject to the cable companies' higher rates, and thus can pass on regular-market-rate cable Internet to their end-user customers (giving the appearance of a "lower price"). Billing for such ISP-sponsored cable Internet services is still handled by the cable company, albeit on behalf of the ISP.
- Ferri, Vic. "Cable Internet-Are You Being Capped?". Using the Internet. MouseTrax Computing Solutions. Retrieved 2009-06-10.
- "Types of Cable Theft". Time Warner Cable. Retrieved 2009-06-10. "Uncapping of Modems"
- WHO (May 2007). "Virgin Media cuts broadband speeds for the heavy downloaders".