Top 10 Questions about Cable TV

Cable TV is one of those things that we’ve accepted as part of our daily lives. Most people watch TV almost every day. But most people probably take it for granted and don’t think about its technology. So when that idea light goes on, and it suddenly occurs to you that you need a question answered, you need to know where to go. Well, this is the place – cable TV’s Top 10 Questions. Check it out and you’ll have a better understanding of your cable TV.

1. Why was cable TV invented?

The inception and growth of cable TV is a manifestation of society’s move towards commercialism. Entertainment was a wonderful media that attracted millions of viewers. Which meant that there was money to be made from commercials.

Since all TV was filmed live, there was no way to send taped commercials around the world as they do now. So it was important to find a way to reach more viewers. As the technology of transmitting signals expanded, so did the number of viewers. The bottom line was, reach more viewers – make more money. The invention of cable TV did exactly that!

2. How is my cable TV sent to me?

The process is fairly simple. Cable providers import signals from the broadcasters, the ones who originate the programming. They pay the broadcasters for these signals. Then they export them to you, the cable subscriber, charging you a fee for receiving the signals.

The actual transmission of these signals is done via satellite. The broadcaster bounces his signal off a satellite and back down to the cable provider, who captures it with an antenna. The cable provider then arranges the programming in packages and bounces those signals off a satellite, and back down to a local antenna, where it’s captured and sent to you though a cable.

3. What’s a cable converter?

A cable converter is a box that sits on top of your TV, and is designed to receive cable TV signals, and convert them from their sending frequency to your receiving frequency. You only need a converter if your TV is an older model that isn’t cable-ready. Most newer models have built-in converters, that enable them to receive over a hundred channels, so cable converters will soon be a thing of the past.

4. What’s a digital converter?

Digital technology is creeping into every phase of our lives. Basically, it allows the transmission of much higher quality, and a much greater quantity of, cable TV signals. That’s because digital transmission almost completely eliminates interference, which has always been a boon to the cable TV industry.

A digital converter has the same purpose as the old cable converter, except it’s able to receive the larger digital signals. Digital signal transmissions carry much more data than analog, and more data means better picture and sound. And since we’re always looking for a brighter, sharper TV picture, and theatre-quality sound, digital TV is a welcome element.

5. What’s HDTV and is it a good thing?

HDTV stands for High-Definition TV and yes, it’s definitely a good thing in our quest for theatre-like viewing. As was explained in our digital converter question, digital technology allows cable providers to transmit a much better picture and sound. However, it’s important to know that this technology is being phased in gradually.

You can’t receive an HDTV-broadcast program unless you have an HDTV set. Many people who like to be on the leading edge, ran out and bought one when they were first introduced. However, they soon found out that HDTV sets don’t receive an analog signal very well, and there aren’t many programs broadcast in actual HDTV, although that number is steadily increasing. So those with HDTV sets will have to wait until the switch is made to 100% digital broadcasting to get maximum use of their theater-quality TVs.

6. When is cable TV going to be all digital?

According to the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) in the U.S., analog TV will be phased out by the end of 2006, or shortly thereafter. It’s probably safe to assume that other countries are on similar schedules.

Right now, all broadcasters are required to transmit their programming both in analog and digital, so we, as consumers, are left in a bit of cable limbo. But when all TV broadcasting is digital, it’ll be worth waiting for, because the picture and sound quality will be just like a theater.

7. Is cable TV better than satellite TV?

Cable TV vs. satellite TV is an ongoing battle. Of course, they’re just competing for their market share of TV viewers – that’s what business is all about. They each have their pros and cons. Digital cable TV wins out when it comes to local programming options, lower up-front costs and Internet access.

Satellite TV offers more stable pricing, and superior sound and picture quality. Also, most or all of their programming is in HDTV format. But you have to buy the dish, have it installed, and sign a contract. And the low up-front costs are only due to special promotions – once they’re over, the price goes up.

So it’s a trade-off, and it depends what your priority is. You’ll have to make that decision for yourself.

8. I’m being charged a “Franchise Fee” on my cable bill – what’s that?

Franchise Fees are a provision given by the U.S. government to cable providers, allowing them to charge as much as 5% of the company’s gross revenues, as a surcharge on subscribers’ bills. It’s basically a business licence fee and, if you want cable, you’re stuck with it.

9. I want to install a home theater system – is cable TV a good enough medium?

The new home theater systems available these days come very close to duplicating theater-like picture and sound quality. And digital cable is definitely a good enough medium to give you that quality. Just be aware that HDTV gives the best quality, but there aren’t that many HDTV programs broadcast. But in the meantime, enjoy your cable TV – you’ll soon have many more viewing choices.

10. What’s the best place to find information on cable TV?

There are many websites offering answers to your cable TV questions. Of course, you’ve found the best one right here. But if you want to dig deeper, we suggest you “surf the Net”. It’ll save you a lot of time on the phone, trying to find the right person with the right answer.

Also, check out our “Related Resources” below for links that’ll complete the picture.

In Conclusion

Cable TV is getting better all the time, with the introduction of HDTV. Just remember, it’s only in its beginning phase. But HDTV broadcasting will gradually increase, and should be complete sometime in 2007.

So be patient, and enjoy the great selection of cable programming available now. Pretty soon, you’ll have hundreds of channels to choose from, with every type of program you could ever want to watch. And by the time the switch is made to total HDTV broadcasting, you’ll be in the driver’s seat – or should we say, the theater seat, popcorn in hand, watching your theater-quality cable TV.

Related Resources:

About the Author:

Arden Mellor is a successfully published freelance writer, one of experience and diversity. The knowledge brought to you through Arden's articles has been designed for simplicity. The world is much too complicated, and Arden’s contribution to the world is to bring the complexities of life into a simpler arena, one that anyone and everyone can understand and use. Arden writes many informative articles on such topics as discount audio speakers, compressing mp3 files and hdtv tuner reviews, and our wishes are that you benefit from the wisdom presented in these articles in making life simple.

This article on the "Top 10 Cable TV Questions" reprinted with permission.

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