Cable television

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Coaxial cable used to carry cable television into subscribers' residences.

Cable television is a system of distributing television programs to paying subscribers via radio frequency (RF) signals transmitted through coaxial cables or light pulses through fiber-optic cables. This contrasts with traditional broadcast television, in which the television signal is transmitted over the air by radio waves and received by a television antenna attached to the television. FM radio programming, high-speed Internet, telephone service, and similar non-television services may also be provided through these cables.

The abbreviation CATV is often used for cable television. It originally stood for Community Access Television or Community Antenna 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.


A cable television distribution box (left) in the basement of a building in Germany, with a splitter (right) which supplies the signal to separate cables which go to different rooms.

In order to receive cable television at a given location, cable distribution lines must be available on the local utility poles or underground utility lines. Coaxial cable brings the signal to the customer's building through a service drop, an overhead or underground cable. If the subscriber's building does not have a cable service drop, the cable company will install one. The standard cable used in the U.S. is RG-6, which has a 75 ohm impedance, and connects with a type F connector.

The cable company's portion of the wiring usually ends at a distribution box on the building exterior, and built-in cable wiring in the walls usually distributes the signal to jacks in different rooms to which televisions are connected. Multiple cables to different rooms are split off the incoming cable with a small device called a splitter.

There are two standards for cable television; older analog cable, and newer digital cable which is capable of carrying high definition signals used by newer digital HDTV televisions. Many cable companies have upgraded to digital cable infrastructures since it was first introduced in the late 1990s. To receive digital cable, most television sets require a digital television adapter (set-top box or cable converter box) supplied by the cable provider. A cable from the jack in the wall is attached to the input of the box, and an output cable from the box is attached to the "Antenna In" or "RF In" connector on the back of the television. Different converter boxes are required for newer digital high definition televisions and older legacy analog televisions. The box must be "activated" by a signal from the cable company before use.

Most American television sets are "cable-ready" and have a television tuner capable of receiving older analog cable television. The cable from the wall is attached directly to the "Antenna In" connector on the back of the television.

How it works[edit]

Diagram of a modern hybrid fiber-coaxial cable television system. At the regional headend, the TV channels are sent multiplexed on a light beam which travels through optical fiber trunklines, which fan out from distribution hubs to optical nodes in local communities. Here the light signal from the fiber is translated to a radio frequency electrical signal, which is distributed through coaxial cable to individual subscriber homes.

In the most common system, multiple television channels (as many as 500, although this varies depending on the provider's available channel capacity) are distributed to subscriber residences through a coaxial cable, which comes from a trunkline supported on utility poles originating at the cable company's local distribution facility, called the headend. Multiple channels are transmitted through the cable by a technique called frequency division multiplexing. At the headend, each television channel is translated to a different frequency. By giving each channel a different frequency "slot" on the cable, the separate television signals do not interfere. At the subscriber's residence, either the subscriber's television or a set-top box provided by the cable company translates the desired channel back to its original frequency (baseband), and it is displayed on-screen. Due to widespread cable theft in earlier analog systems, the signals are encrypted on modern digital cable systems, and the set-top box must be activated by an activation code sent by the cable company before it will function, which is only sent after the subscriber signs up. There are also usually "upstream" channels on the cable, to send data from the customer box to the cable headend, for advanced features such as requesting pay-per-view shows, cable internet access, and cable telephone service. The "downstream" channels occupy a band of frequencies from approximately 50 MHz to 1 GHz, while the "upstream" channels occupy frequencies of 5 to 42 MHz. Subscribers pay with a monthly fee. Subscribers can choose from several levels of service, with "premium" packages including more channels but costing a higher rate.

At the local headend, the feed signals from the individual television channels are received by dish antennas from communication satellites. Additional local channels, such as local broadcast television stations, educational channels from local colleges, and community access channels devoted to local governments (PEG channels) are usually included on the cable service. Commercial advertisements for local business are also inserted in the programming at the headend (the individual channels, which are distributed nationally, also have their own nationally oriented commercials).

Hybrid fiber-coaxial[edit]

Modern cable systems are large, with a single network and headend often serving an entire metropolitan area or county. Most systems use hybrid fiber-coaxial (HFC) distribution; this means the trunklines that carry the signal from the headend to local neighborhoods are optical fiber to provide greater bandwidth and also extra capacity for future expansion. At the headend, the radio frequency electrical signal carrying all the channels is modulated on a light beam and sent through the fiber. The fiber trunkline goes to several distribution hubs, from which multiple fibers fan out to carry the signal to boxes called optical nodes in local communities. At the optical node, the light beam from the fiber is translated back to an electrical signal and carried by coaxial cable distribution lines on utility poles, from which cables branch out to subscriber residences.

Deployments by country[edit]

It is mostly available in North America, Europe, Australia and East Asia, and less so in South America and the Middle East. Cable television has had little success in Africa, as it is not cost-effective to lay cables in sparsely populated areas. So-called "wireless cable" or microwave-based systems are used instead.



Cable television is the most common transmission method in all urban areas of mainland China – television aerials are an extremely rare sight. Cable systems in China usually carry all the CCTV channels in Mandarin, along with all the channels of municipal, provincial or regional networks in question (some examples of such stations are listed below). The remaining slots carry the main channels from several other province-level stations, and may carry additional channels from metropolitan stations such as BTV and Shanghai Media Group. They may also carry a local channel for a particular sub-provincial municipality, prefecture or county. Individual compounds (hotels, housing estates, etc.) often add a request channel showing karaoke music videos and animations. An extremely small number of compounds with many foreign residents and/or tourists (for example, five star hotels in Beijing) will also carry selected channels from Hong Kong, Taiwan and the West. Phoenix Television has the widest carriage under this rule.

Mainland China had more than 44.5 million digital cable television users in 2008.[1]

Unlike many cable television operators in other countries that support two-way modes, China's cable television systems operate in a one-way mode (download only, no upload).

Hong Kong[edit]

Cable television was introduced to Hong Kong in 1957 when Rediffusion Television (predecessor to Asia Television Limited) began transmissions as Hong Kong's first television station. This arrangement ended in 1973 when Rediffusion Television was granted a free-to-air terrestrial broadcast licence by the Hong Kong government. Cable television returned to Hong Kong in 1993 when Wharf Cable Television (now known as Cable TV Hong Kong) began operations as Hong Kong's first subscription-based multichannel television platform. Cable TV Hong Kong currently competes with the IPTV platforms HKBN bbTV and now TV as well as the pay television service TVB Pay Vision.


Cable television was introduced to Japan in 1955, in Shibukawa, Gunma Prefecture. Until the 1980s, cable television in Japan was mainly limited to rural mountainous areas and outlying islands where the reception of terrestrial television was poor. Cable television started to proliferate in urban areas in the late 1980s, beginning with Tokyo, whose first cable television station began broadcasting in 1987.[2] In the mid 1990s, two-way multichannel cable television platforms first appeared in the market; broadband internet services started being bundled to cable television subscriptions in the late 1990s.

Currently, there are several national and regional cable television providers in Japan, the largest being J:COM, followed by Japan Cablenet (JCN). These companies currently compete with the Japanese satellite television platforms SKY PerfecTV! and WOWOW, as well as the IPTV platform Hikari TV.

Japan Cable Television Engineering Association (JCTEA) is the umbrella organisation representing 600 member companies involved in research, designing, manufacturing, installation and maintenance of cable television facilities in Japan.


Cable television was introduced to Malaysia in 1995 when Mega TV was launched as the country's first subscription-based pay television service. Mega TV ceased operations in 2001, due to stiff competition from the Malaysian satellite television operator Astro as well as a failure to expand its range of channels. In 2013, ABNXcess was launched as Malaysia's second cable television service and marked the return of cable television to Malaysia after a 12-year absence.


There are only two cable television providers in the Maldives.[citation needed] As the population of the country is separated across around 200 inhabited islands, there is a cable providers for nearly every island. MediaNet Pvt. Ltd. is the country's largest cable system, providing state of the art digital service. MediaNet is a Male-based cable providers that provides cable and Multichannel Multipoint Distribution Service (MMDS) service to five islands near Male. MediaNet holds a distribution license for 75 channels and distributes channels to nearly all the operators of the country. In Maldives, cable television subscribers can get most premium channels available in Asia.


There are several cable television providers in Mongolia. The main three are SuperVision, Hiimori and Sansar CATV. All three cover approximately 15 national channels and 40 foreign channels, such as CNN, the BBC and NHK. Sansar has the largest network in Ulaanbaatar. SuperVision is the first digital cable television service in Mongolia and other CATVs are planning to launch digital cable television with CA systems.


NUVUE, the first cable television system in the Philippines, was set up in Baguio City by American expatriate Russel Swartley in 1969. Cable television became popular in the 1980s after the Marcos administration. SkyCable, the largest cable television provider in the Philippines, began operations in 1992. Cable providers have proliferated since then, including Destiny, Cablelink and some regional cable providers. In 2007, SkyCable introduced the DigiBox, a set-top box that provides a digital television (DTV) signal for higher video quality and prevents illegal cable connections. In 2008, SkyCable also broadcast the 37th Ryder Cup in high-definition television (HDTV). In 2009, SkyCable became the first cable television service provider in the Philippines to broadcast the UAAP Games in high definition via the new SkyHD Cable TV service.


Cable television was introduced to Singapore in 1991 when Singapore Cable Vision (now known as StarHub TV) was licensed to develop and establish a cable-based subscription television network in Singapore. The project was completed in stages between 1995 and 1999 and upon achieving 100% cable television coverage in 1999, SCV was granted the exclusivity in the provision of pay television services in Singapore for three years until 2002. That same year, StarHub, a Singapore telecommunications company, acquired SCV and the cable television network was subsequently renamed as StarHub Cable Vision, and again as StarHub TV in 2007. Digital cable was introduced to Singapore in November 2004 and completely replaced the previous analogue cable service by June 2009.[3] As the private ownership of satellite dishes is banned in Singapore, StarHub TV and its IPTV counterpart mio TV (launched in 2007) comprise the only multichannel television platforms available in Singapore as of October 2013.

South Korea[edit]

Cable television was legalised by the South Korean government in 1993, and was formally introduced in 1995 with an initial 20 operators covering various regions of South Korea. As of 2014, there are 149 cable television operators in South Korea, mainly operating at a regional level. These companies compete with the South Korean satellite television platform SkyLife as well as the IPTV platforms HanaTV, U+ TV and Olleh TV.


Cable television is prevalent in Taiwan, as a result of cheap subscription rates (typically around NT$550, or US$15 a month) and the paucity of free-to-air television, which comprises four channels. Programming is mostly in Mandarin and Taiwanese, with some English, Japanese and other foreign-language channels. Miniseries, called Taiwanese drama, are popular. There is a dedicated station for Taiwan's Hakka minority as well as the arrival in 2005 of an aboriginal channel. Almost all programmes are in their original language with traditional Chinese subtitles.

Cable television in Taiwan is claimed by the industry to have begun in 1969 in the Taipei suburb of Shipai, and CATV antennas were subsequently set up in Taiwan's mountainous areas to remedy poor terrestrial reception in those areas. In the 1970s, illegal cable television systems nicknamed "fourth channels" (zh:第四台) to differentiate it from the then-three legal Taiwanese terrestrial channels were set up in every location in Taiwan. These illegal cable television systems, while technically considered to have operated outside the boundaries of Taiwanese law because there was no provision for cable television in the Taiwanese Broadcasting Act at that time were, however, popular with the Taiwanese public as they offered more choices in programming compared to those offered by terrestrial television. Fourth channels initially obtained much of their programming from VCR videotapes, which were then played and retransmitted via coaxial cables to connected households with a subscription, and subsequently enjoyed massive growth after the late 1980s when the legalisation of Ku band satellite receptions in 1988 and private installations of C band satellite dishes in 1992 substantially increased the range of available channels. Fourth channels were also popular among Taiwan's then-nascent opposition political parties, who used this medium to communicate pro-democracy views.[4]

Despite the Taiwanese government's unsuccessful attempts in cracking down on the fourth channels, including a major raid in which 370,000 kg (820,000 lb) of coaxial cables were forcibly removed and destroyed over a four-month period in 1991, the straw that broke the camel's back only occurred when the United States began threatening trade sanctions against Taiwan in retaliation for massive copyright infringement committed by the fourth channels, in part due to the fourth channels' illegal retransmission of satellite signals from domestic and foreign sources, especially those from Hong Kong, Japan and the United States which became possible only when satellite receptions became legal as explained above.[5][6]

Faced with this problem, the Taiwanese government eventually legalized cable television in July 1993 when the Government Information Office ratified the Cable Television Act. In October 1994, 209 companies took part in a series of competitive tenders which were called as a result of the implementation of the said Cable Television Act. On May 13, 1998, Keelung Cable Television (zh:吉隆有線電視) became the first Taiwanese cable television operator to obtain a broadcasting license which covers the city of Keelung in northern Taiwan. By 2001, there were 66 cable television operators in Taiwan, mainly operating at a regional level.

The Taiwanese government is pushing for a switch to digital cable television services by 2015; this will be provided through a set-top box and will increase the number of available channels.


Cable television was introduced to Turkey in the early 1980s when several cable companies started operations such as Sky, Amunarie, ODus and Mediafield.



Cable television was introduced to Denmark in 1963 when Jysk Telefon, a Danish telecommunications company, started cable television services on the Jutland peninsula. However it was not until 1985 that cable television became the preferred method of receiving television in Denmark, when the then-four regional telecommunications operators in Denmark began a considerable expansion of the Danish cable television network. In 1990, the four regional telecommunications operators were merged into a single entity called Tele Danmark (now known as TDC A/S) and in 1995 Denmark's first nationwide cable television company called Tele Danmark Kabel TV (now YouSee) was formed. As of 2011, 93% of Danish households subscribe to cable television, the highest rate in the world. The cable television market in Denmark is dominated by three operators, namely YouSee, Stofa and Dansk Bredbånd respectively.


Finland has a cable television infrastructure, which is also used for cable internet.


Cable television is the most common[citation needed] system for distributing multi-channel television in Ireland. With more than 40 years of history and extensive networks of both wired and "wireless" cable, Ireland is amongst the most cabled countries in Europe. Forty percent[7] of Irish homes received cable television in September 2006. The figure dropped slightly in the early years of the 21st century due to the increased popularity of satellite reception, notably Sky, but has stabilized recently.

In the Republic of Ireland, UPC Ireland is by far the largest cable and MMDS operator, owning all of the state's MMDS licenses and almost all of the state's cable television providers. UPC offers analogue and digital cable television services in cities and towns throughout the country (with the exception of Cork, where the network is digital-only). It offers MMDS services in rural areas. In areas previously served by NTL, the network is digital-only, while Chorus areas still have both analogue and digital services. Other than UPC, the only other operator providing analogue and digital cable is Casey Cablevision, which operates in Dungarvan, County Waterford. There also exists a small number of analogue-only cable networks such as the Longford service Crossan Cable.


In the 1950s and 1960s, the Italian state broadcaster RAI was the only one authorized to broadcast television programming in Italy, hence making RAI a monopolist. That monopoly status was broken in 1971, when Giuseppe Sacchi, a former RAI editor, launched on April 21 that year the first "free" television station in Italy, called Telebiella and based in Biella, which was only possible through a legal loophole in Italian broadcasting law which did not specifically prohibit the existence of cable television. Telebiella and later of such stations provided Italy's first cable television services free from the influence of the Italian state. However, these early cable television channels, which operated as pirate broadcasters in a sense were soon heavily stifled by the Italian government and most were forced to shut down. Later, the Italian government introduced laws to regulate and allow for cable television, albeit with heavy restrictions: only one cable system for every city and only one television channel for each system.

Only in the 1990s was a nationwide cable television system developed, first by Telecom Italia and later by FASTWEB. In 2001 TV di Fastweb became the first commercial cable television platform in Italy, however, after just over a decade in operation TV di Fastweb shut down in November 2012 due to competition from other similar services such as Sky Italia and Mediaset Premium as well as internet video-on-demand services such as Hulu. As of October 2013, no cable television platform exists in Italy.


In the Netherlands, cable television is the most widely used television distribution system. As of 2012, about 5.3 million households (about 70%) have a cable television subscription.[8] This number is slowly dropping since the rise of cheaper alternatives such as IPTV. The basic subscription of all major providers costs between 15 and €20 and includes analog and digital television and radio.

The cable infrastructure is owned by the television providers. This means that depending on where you live, there is only one available provider. The largest providers are UPC and Ziggo. Lately, there have been efforts to 'open up' these monopolies and force the providers to allow other providers on their networks, but this hasn't been successful so far.


Cable television was introduced to Portugal in 1992 when TV Cabo Madeirense began operations on the island of Madeira. Cable television was extended to mainland Portugal in 1994 under the name TVCabo (now part of ZON Optimus). In 1995, Cabovisão began operations in the cities of Palmela and Setúbal. In the late 1990s, TVTEL, PluriCanal and Bragatel also began to offer cable television services.

In 2005, ZON became the first Portuguese cable television provider to adopt digital cable. The Autoridade Nacional de Comunicações (ANACOM) has requested all Portuguese cable television providers to switch over to digital cable as soon as possible. Because TVTEL, PluriCanal and Bragatel decided not to renew their licenses after the said announcement, ZON has decided to acquire them and all their customers have been transitioned to the ZON cable service, making ZON the largest cable television provider in Portugal.


In 1972, the Dirección General de Radiodifusión y Televisión (now part of RTVE) started collaborating with the Spanish telecommunications provider Telefónica in implementing cable television in Spain, first in the cities of Madrid and Barcelona and eventually in other Spanish cities. The initial cable television system implemented in Madrid and Barcelona covered a total area of 8 km2 (with future provision for extending coverage area to 32 km2), and allowed a total of nine channels to be received. The project was deemed complete by 1976, although due to the political situation in Spain at that time the first cable television networks in Spain only came into existence in the early 1980s. These early Spanish cable television networks mainly operated at a regional level, whereas each cable operator served a defined area.

As more cable operators sprung up in Spain in the intervening years and without a national policy to coordinate cable television, the Spanish government eventually ratified the Spanish General Telecommunications by Cable Act 42/95 in 1995 and established a legal framework over which all Spanish cable television providers would be regulated. In 2003, the Spanish General Telecommunications Act 32/2003 was implemented and repealed many of the provisions of the previous Cable Act 42/95, while establishing a new regulatory framework for cable television, public radio, information technology services, etc.

Currently, the largest cable television provider in Spain is ONO, which operates in several regions and autonomous communities of Spain. Other well-known Spanish cable television providers include Euskaltel, which mainly operates in the Basque Country; Telecable, which operates in northern Spain; and R, which operates in Galicia in northwestern Spain. All major cable television operators and many smaller ones offer triple play and quadruple play services.


Cable television was introduced to Sweden in 1961 when Informations-TV AB started a cable television service in the city of Malmö that same year, which mainly transmitted locally-produced programming and from 1981 retransmitted satellite broadcasts beginning with the Soviet television channel Horizont. In the 1970s and 1980s a few cable television networks sprung up in different Swedish cities, sometimes operating on an experimental basis.

In 1983 the then-telecommunications monopoly Televerket launched Sweden's first nationwide cable television network called Televerket Kabel-TV (now known as Com Hem). On January 1, 1986 the Swedish government ratified the Swedish Local Cable Broadcasting Act (SFS 1985:677), which formally legalised cable television in Sweden. Currently the largest cable television provider in Sweden is the aforementioned Com Hem with a 75% market share. Other Swedish cable television providers include Tele2Vision, Canal Digital and Sappa.

United Kingdom[edit]

When the infant BBC Television service was started in 1936, Rediffusion, which had supplied cable radio services since 1928, started providing "Pipe TV" to its customers who had difficulties tuning into the weak television broadcast signal.[9]

Suspended during World War II, the BBC service was re-established in June 1946, and had only one transmitter, at Alexandra Palace, which served the London area. From the end of 1949, new transmitters were steadily opened to serve other major conurbations, and then smaller areas of population. The areas on the fringes of the transmitter coverage provided an opportunity for Rediffusion and other commercial companies to expand cable systems to enlarge the viewing audience for the one BBC television channel which then existed. The first was in Gloucester in 1950[10] and the process gathered pace over the next few years, especially after a second television channel, ITV, was launched in 1955 to compete with BBC. By the late 1970s, 2.5 million British homes received their television service via cable.[11]

By law, these cable systems were restricted to the relay of the public broadcast channels, which meant that as the transmitter network became more comprehensive, the incentive to subscribe to cable was reduced and they began to lose customers. In 1982, a radical liberalization of the law on cable was proposed by the Information Technology Advisory Panel,[12] for the sake of promoting a new generation of broadband cable systems leading to the wired society.[13] After setting up and receiving the conclusions of the Hunt Inquiry into Cable Expansion and Broadcasting Policy, the Government decided to proceed with liberalization and two pieces of legislation: the Cable and Broadcasting Act and the Telecommunications Act, were enacted in 1984.

The result was that cable systems were permitted to carry as many new television channels as they liked, as well as providing a telephone service and interactive services of many kinds (as since made familiar by the Internet). To maintain the momentum of the perceived commercial interest in this new investment opportunity, in 1983, the Government itself granted eleven interim franchises for new broadband systems each covering a community of up to around 100,000 homes, but the competitive franchising process was otherwise left to the new regulatory body, the Cable Authority, which took on its powers from January 1, 1985.

The franchising process proceeded steadily, but the actual construction of new systems was slow, as doubts about an adequate payback from the substantial investment persisted. By the end of 1990 almost 15 million homes had been included in franchised areas, but only 828,000 of these had been passed by broadband cable and only 149,000 were actually subscribing.[14] Thereafter, however, construction accelerated and take-up steadily improved.

The first new television channels launched for carriage on cable systems (debuting in March 1984) were Sky Channel, Screensport, Music Box and The Movie Channel. Others followed, some were merged or closed down, but the range expanded. A similar flux was seen among the operators of cable systems: franchises were granted to a host of different companies, but a process of consolidation saw the growth of large multiple system operators, until by the early 2000s, virtually the whole industry was in the hands of two companies, NTL and Telewest.

In 2005, it was announced that NTL and Telewest would merge, after a period of co-operation in the preceding few years. This merger was completed on March 3, 2006, with the company being named ntl Incorporated. For the time being, the two brand names and services were marketed separately. However, following NTL's acquisition of Virgin Mobile, the NTL and Telewest services were rebranded as Virgin Media on February 8, 2007, creating a single cable operator covering more than 95% of the UK cable market.[citation needed]

There are a small number of other surviving cable television companies in the UK other than Virgin Media including WightFibre (Isle of Wight) and Smallworld Cable (Ayrshire, Carlisle and Lancashire).

Cable television faces intense competition from BSkyB's Sky satellite television service. Most channels are carried on both platforms. However, cable often lacks "interactive" features (e.g. text services, and extra video-screens), especially on BSkyB owned channels, and the satellite platform lacks services requiring high degrees of two-way communication, such as true video on demand.

However, subscription-funded digital terrestrial television (DTT) proved less of a competitive threat. The first system, ITV Digital, went into liquidation in 2002. Also, Top Up TV which was launched in 2004 closed on November 1, 2013 because of low take-up, a dwindling offering, and competition from services such as Lovefilm and Netflix.[citation needed]

Another potential source of competition in the future will be television transmitted over broadband internet connections; this is known as Internet Protocol television (IPTV). Some IPTV services are currently available in London, while services operated in Hull ceased in April 2006.[citation needed] As the speed and availability of broadband connections increase, more television content can be delivered using protocols such as IPTV. However, its impact on the market is yet to be measured, as is consumer attitude toward watching television programs on personal computers instead of television sets. At the end of 2006, BT (the UK's former state owned monopoly phone company) started offering BT TV, which combines the digital free-to-air standard Freeview through an aerial, and on-demand IPTV, delivered over a BT Broadband connection through the television set-top box (BT has chosen to deploy Microsoft's Mediaroom platform for this).[citation needed]

North America[edit]


In 1949, Broadcast Relay Service began negotiations for the implementation of what was to be the first large scale cable television system in North America. The development of the system relied on reaching agreement with Quebec Hydro-Electric Commission to utilise their existing network of power poles supplying power to the Greater Montreal area. Initial discussions began with a meeting with Montreal City Council on June 21, 1949. After many months of negotiation, an agreement was reached between Hydro-Québec and Rediffusion on February 28, 1950 for an initial five-year period. The Rediffusion cable system was operational in 1952 and eventually supplied 80,000 homes in Montreal, Quebec. Cable television in Canada began in 1952 with community antenna connections in Vancouver and London, Ontario; which city was the first is not clear. Initially, the systems brought American television stations to viewers in Canada who had no Canadian stations to watch; broadcast television, though begun late in 1952 in Toronto and Montreal, did not reach a majority of cities until 1954.

In time, cable television was widely established to carry available Canadian stations as well as import American stations, which constituted the vast majority of signals on systems (usually only one or two Canadian stations, while some systems had duplicate or even triplicate coverage of American networks). During the 1970s, a growing number of Canadian stations pushed American channels off the systems, forcing several to expand beyond the original 12-channel system configurations. At the same time, the advent of fiber-optic technology enabled companies to extend their systems to nearby towns and villages that by themselves were not viable cable television markets.

Dominican Republic[edit]

Cable television in the Dominican Republic is provided by a variety of companies. These companies offer both English- and Spanish-language television, plus a range of channels in other languages, high definition channels, pay-per-view movies and events, sports packages and premium movie channels such as HBO, Playboy TV and Cinecanal. Also, the channels are from not only the Dominican Republic, but also the United States and Europe. In the Dominican Republic television spectrum, there are 46 VHF, UHF, and free-to-air (FTA) channels. The free of charge channels programming consists mainly of locally produced entertainment shows, news, and comedy shows; and foreign sitcoms, soap operas, movies, cartoons and sports programs.

The main service provider in the Dominican Republic is Telecable from Tricom. Aster is concentrated in Santo Domingo, but is expanding its service throughout the Dominican Republic. There are also new companies using new technologies that are expanding quickly such as Claro TV (IPTV), Wind Telecom (MMDS) and SKY (satellite television).


Panamanian company Rexa introduced cable television in Panama City in 1983. In other regions, there were also local cable companies. Rexa's successor, Cable Onda, was dominant throughout the 1990s, and expanded to Chiriqui Province. Since 2000, the largest Panamanian cable television companies have been Cable Onda (40% share), Cable and Wireless (started in late 2009) and CTV.[citation needed]

United States[edit]

Cable television in the United States is a common form of television delivery, generally by subscription. Cable television first became available in the United States in 1948, with subscription services in 1949. Data by SNL Kagan shows that as of 2006 about 58.4% of all U.S. homes subscribe to basic cable television services. Most cable viewers in the U.S. are in the suburbs and tend to be middle class;[15] cable television is less common in low income, inner city, and rural areas.[15]

Cable television franchise fees stem from a community's basic right to charge for use of the property it owns. The cable television franchise fees represent part of the compensation a community receives in exchange for the cable operator's occupation and the right-of-way use of public property. A franchise fee is not a tax; it is a rental charge.



Cable television began in the early 1990s in Australia. Several companies appeared including Foxtel, Galaxy TV, Optus TV, SelecTV and Austar offering services to homes across the major states of Australia. Services to Tasmania and the Northern Territory took longer to start, not until the mid-2000s when the digital satellite pay television service had picked up momentum and was beginning to be used for metropolitan installs and not just rural installs.

Foxtel dominates the cable television landscape and was originally rebroadcast by Austar (in rural areas) and Optus TV, until both latter companies respectively ceased operations in 2014 and 2011. Galaxy TV and SelecTV likewise no longer operate. The effective Foxtel monopoly has drawn criticism within Australia for being anti-competitive and inflating prices.

New Zealand[edit]

Vodafone New Zealand operates a hybrid cable/IPTV pay television network formerly owned by TelstraClear (until its acquisition by Vodafone in 2012) under the brand "InHomeTV". It is delivered over both UFB cable and UFB fiber, available in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Whangarei, Palmerston North and Dunedin. InHomeTV competes with the New Zealand satellite television operator SKY TV (unrelated to its UK namesake) and the prepaid pay television service Igloo.

Customers receive Freeview HD channels via a digital video recorder and can subscribe to SKY TV channels. No content is sourced by Vodafone itself except for 36 Vodafone Pay-Per-View channels. Selected content is available in high definition.

In September 2010, TelstraClear released their own PVR called the T-BOX. The launch followed the release by its then-parent company Telstra of a similar product. In June 2011, TelstraClear ceased all analogue cable services, converting exclusively to digital.

South America[edit]


Cable television was first introduced to Argentina in 1965, in the city of Junín. In the 1990s, cable television became very popular in Argentina and by 1996, 53% of Argentinian homes had access to cable television.[16] The rapid growth of cable television in Argentina continued throughout the 2000s and currently 83% of Argentinian households subscribe to cable television, the fourth highest rate in the world, surpassed only by Canada, the United States and Denmark.


Cable television was first demonstrated in Chile in the early 1960s, and was formally introduced in 1986 in the commune of Providencia in Santiago Province. The first cable television operator in Chile was Intercom, owned by the newspaper company El Mercurio, and featured four in-house produced channels. In the 1990s, cable television became very popular in Chile and more cable operators sprung up in those years to provide cable television in Chile. Currently there are many cable television providers in Chile, the largest being VTR, followed by Claro Americas.


Cable television was introduced to Peru in 1982, in the city of Iquitos. Polish entrepreneur Stanisław Tymiński established a company called TVS (Televisión Selva) that year and was the first cable television system to deliver pay content to homes in Iquitos and in Peru. Eight years later, in 1990, controversial businessman Genaro Delgado-Parker established Peru's second cable television system in Lima, called Telecable, delivering contents via MMDS only to high class neighborhoods. In 1993, Cable Mágico was established, widely spreading the reach of cable television to the middle and lower classes, expanding operations later that decade to the eight main cities throughout the country. From then on, many local companies started offering pay contents in almost every town in Peru. These small companies are grouped through APTC (Asociacion Peruana de Television por Cable) and they count approximately 400 current members. According to INEI, the statistics organization for Peru, pay television services reach approximately 26% of the country's population and 52% of the population in Lima. DTH services are also offered by DirecTV, Claro and Movistar.

Other cable-based services[edit]

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 access 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, 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. 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 television, telephone and Internet access is commonly called "triple play", regardless of whether CATV or telcos offer it.

More recently, several U.S. 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, New York, and parts of New Jersey and Connecticut. 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 Northeastern United States.


During the 1980s, in the United States, 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 is known today in the 2010s 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 in Columbus, Ohio where Richard Sillman became the nation's youngest cable television Director at age 16.[17]

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 telephone being offered to consumers, bundled, by 2010.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 44,5 millions d'abonnés au câble numérique en Chine. ChinaNewsMedia. 2009-01-23. Retrieved 2014-01-10.
  2. ^ "A Partial Guide to Broadcastings in Japan". The Web Kanzaki. 1996. Retrieved 2014-01-23. 
  3. ^ StarHub dropping analog Cable TV service. CNET Asia. 2009-02-17. Retrieved 2013-10-07.
  4. ^ Chen, Ping-Hung (2002). "Who Owns Cable Television? Media Ownership Concentration in Taiwan". Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. Retrieved 2014-01-10. 
  5. ^ Byrd, Sophia R. (1996). "Changing The "Fourth Channels": Taiwan Tunes In To A New Cable Television Law". Pacific Rim Law & Policy Association. Retrieved 2014-01-10. 
  6. ^ Liu, Yu-Li (1994). "The Development of Cable Television in China and Taiwan". Malaysian Journal of Communication. Retrieved 2014-01-10. 
  7. ^ "Commission for Communications Regulation". Retrieved 2012-02-12. 
  8. ^ Kriek, Jarco (19 April 2012). "Kabel verliest abonnees aan IPTV, satelliet en Digitenne stabiel". Totaal TV. Totaal TV. Retrieved 5 September 2013. 
  9. ^ Writer Russ J Graham EMAIL MORE ARTICLES WEBSITE. "A short history of Rediffusion by Russ J Graham". Retrieved 2012-02-12. 
  10. ^ "The Michael Aldrich Archive - Cable Systems". Retrieved 2012-02-14. 
  11. ^ 1982 Aldrich MJ co-author Cable Systems p18 HMSO London ISBN 0-11-630821-4
  12. ^ "The Michael Aldrich Archive - The Cable Story". Retrieved 2012-02-14. 
  13. ^ 1982 Aldrich MJ co-author Cable Systems HMSO London ISBN 0-11-630821-4
  14. ^ Cable Authority, Final Report and Accounts 1990
  15. ^ a b "Chart close-up from SNL Kagan Cable Subscription Data Contradicts FCC Chairman Kevin Martin". 2012-01-29. Retrieved 2012-02-12. 
  16. ^ Clarin (1996). "La otra televisión".  Retrieved 2013-09-05.
  17. ^ Media Management in the Age of Giants, Business Dynamics of Journalism. Iowa State University Press, first edition 2003. Second edition, University of New Mexico Press, 2012. Retrieved 2013-05-13. 

Further reading[edit]

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