May 12, 2009 by CSCC
Background and Infrastructure
The U.S. cable industry has invested more than $100 billion over ten years to build an extensive and robust broadband network. This technology platform provides American consumers with an vast array of integrated entertainment, information and communications services.
The cable industry serves approximately 61.1 million basic cable customers, or 47.8% of U.S. homes passed by cable video service. The cable industry is composed of approximately 7,189 cable systems, with 7,622 headend facilities. Many of the systems are owned by Multiple System Operators (MSO), with the ten largest MSOs providing service to 55.4 million customers. In addition to analog and digital video programming services, the cable industry provides digital telephone service to 23.1 million customers, and high-speed Internet access service to 43.2 million customers.
Cable broadband networks are designed with redundancies and safeguards that minimize the impact of failures and ensure that customers continue to receive reliable service. Resiliency is achieved by the technology, redundancy, and diversity employed in network design.
Cable broadband typically are composed of a headend, at least one distribution hub and multiple fiber nodes connected together using a mixture of fiber and coaxial cable to provide bi-directional signal paths between the operator and the customer. This “hybrid” fiber-coaxial (HFC) architecture effectively segments the cable system into a number of parallel distribution networks. The HFC architecture is beneficial to the cable operator because it improves signal performance and reliability, increases available bandwidth, and is generally easier to maintain than older architectures, which relied solely on coaxial cable.
Video service offerings provided by cable systems typically include content generated by national cable news networks and local broadcast television affiliates, which are an important source of news and information for the public. In addition to these services, there are many channels of nationwide cable programming and on-demand and interactive services that serve a wide diversity of interests for entertainment and information.
In the mid 1990’s, the cable industry begin to offer an affordable, residential high-speed Internet service. Today, cable’s high-speed broadband platform delivers an enormous array of Internet content, applications, and services. Cable broadband service is now available to 122 million homes, or 92 percent of all American households.
In addition to high-speed Internet access, the cable industry has expanded its service offerings to include business and residential telephone services delivered over its infrastructure. A cable system can offer telephone service over the same cable line that already carries digital video, high-speed Internet and other services to consumers. Cable companies are certified local exchange carriers offering competitive residential voice services across the country.