In order to provide cable TV service, a physical broadband connection, typically a high-bandwidth coaxial cable, is run into your home. This is the most fundamental aspect of the process though some fiber-optic-based offerings are starting to become available in some markets.
The various forms of broadcast equipment used by cable TV providers effectively aggregate hundreds of analogue and digital TV channels into a single cable that can be decoded and interpreted when the cable is inserted into the appropriate kind of set-top box. The hardware that is coupled to cable companies’ networks is subject to highly stringent monitoring, and the cable companies allow only devices that have known physical hardware addresses to access their signals. Even while in some areas you can buy your own cable equipment, you won’t be able to use it until the provider reads its hardware address and enables it to interact with their signals.
This process can take several weeks. If you want to watch cable TV signals on more than one television, you will typically need a set-top box for each television, and you will also need a physical cable hook-up for each set-top box. This is similar to the situation with satellite TV. Before they are able to support digital set-top boxes and HDTV transmissions, the vast majority of cable companies are required to first ensure that individual hook-ups are digital ready. These days, suppliers of cable and satellite TV services offer bundled packages of other types as well. The phrase “triple play” was coined by the cable television industry. Under this model, cable companies provide households with television, telephone, and Internet access on a single bill, typically at a reduced rate compared to the separate services and products on this list.
Satellite businesses will gladly supply the same combinations to their consumers; however, in most cases, they are required to join up with communications carriers in order to deliver Internet and telephone services to their customers. Cable providers such as Time Warner and Cox, for example, provide customers the opportunity to purchase a genuine triple play. If you choose to get triple play from Dish Network or DirecTV, it’s likely that another business, will also be involved in the process of providing those services to you.
When deciding between the two options, it is important to pay close attention to the stations that are included in their bundles and to consider how much the availability of local channels matters to you.