What is "Digital Cable"?

Digital cable is today's generation of cable television services, allowing viewers to watch television and bundle their high speed internet service without the need for a telephone line.

The hundreds of high-definition television channels you are able to watch, along with pay-per-view programming, digital music channels and video gaming systems, wouldn't be possible by the analog cable technology of the past. 

In the past, cable television providers used an analog system to transmit your favorite television channels through a cable to your home. Television networks transmitted their signals over the air to many regional cable companies as well as homes that could get good reception, and the cable companies distributed those signals through cables.

But the analog cable system was limited and took up a lot of radio frequency space. As the demand grew for more diverse television channels, it lead to the development of digital cable in the 1990s. Most cable providers offered some digital cable services to customers by 2000. In 2009 the United States mandated a switch to all-digital broadcasting. Television consumers who want to receive these digital signals must have an antenna, satellite or a cable box in their home.

Digital cable allows cable service providers to transmit many digital television channels by compressing the digital data as it is streamed into your home. Digital cable is efficient at moving large amounts of information through the cable quickly. When you decide to switch a channel, that signal is instantly decompressed, allowing you to watch your television show on your screen. When you changed the channel on an analog system, it would send a signal to your receiver to make  the switch. Each analog television channel had its own switch.

A digital cable system uses binary code, or a series of 1s and 0s, to send the compressed digital signal to a converter box in your home. This receiver processes the digital signal so you are able to watch your channels. It also has a two-way communication system that enables your receiver to send information back to your cable service provider. This allows you to watch pay-per-view programming and other interactive services which require your input.

If you don't have a digital television, the receiver converts the digital signals to analog for you to watch on your television screen.

With digital cable, there is no satellite dish or outdoor antenna required on your roof to view your favorite television channels.

The development of digital technology provides many benefits to homeowners, including high-quality video and sound, along with hundreds of television channels that otherwise wouldn't have been available.