In a world where Internet access has become essential, people often wonder why their connection does not equal that of their neighbors or colleagues. Terms like “broadband,” “cable,” “digital subscriber line (DSL),” and “fiber optics” get thrown about, and it could get quite confusing.
This post will answer what is cable Internet access, how it works, and how it differs from other forms of connection.
What Is Cable Internet?
Cable Internet is a form of high-speed connection that uses a cable television infrastructure to provide access to end users. Therefore, the network that provides your cable TV connection is the same one that allows you to access the Internet.
Thus, cable Internet access is usually bundled with TV channels, and the service mainly comes from a local cable TV service provider.
How Does Cable Internet Work?
For cable Internet to work, you need two things—a modem inside your house and a coaxial wire or cable that runs from the modem to the cable modem termination system (CMTS) housed in the premises of your Internet service provider (ISP).
Put simply, cable Internet works by connecting your modem to the CMTS using a coaxial cable. The process is visualized by the image below.
To better understand what is cable Internet and how it works, let’s dive deeper into these terms:
- Modem: This is the small box inside your house that facilitates communication between your computer and the cable service provider’s systems. Most cable companies provide subscribers with this hardware often combined with a router so you can connect multiple gadgets to the Internet.
- CMTS: This is a piece of hardware found in a cable company’s facilities or site. It needs to communicate with the modem in your house so you can have cable Internet access.
- Coaxial cable: This allows the transmission of data over long distances. It connects your modem to the provider’s CMTS even when the latter is far from your home.
How Does Cable Internet Differ from Other Connection Types?
Now that you know what cable Internet is, we can distinguish it from other forms of connection. First off, cable Internet access is an excellent improvement from dial-up, which, as we know, is very slow.
When talking about high-speed or broadband Internet, the differentiating feature of cable Internet is that it rides on a cable TV network. Your distance to the local cable TV service provider’s CMTS doesn’t affect Internet speed.
Besides cable Internet, other forms of high-speed access are DSL, fiber optic, and satellite. DSL service provides Internet access with the help of unused telephone lines. Unlike dial-up, this setup does not interrupt your phone service. However, the Internet speed slows down the farther you are from the provider’s switching station.
A relatively new form of broadband Internet service is fiber optic, and its infrastructure is still being set up. It works the same way as cable Internet, but instead of copper inside the wired cables, it uses glass fiber.
Lastly, satellite Internet connection draws Internet signals from a satellite in space to the dish in your home. Unlike cable Internet that uses coaxial wires to transmit data, satellite Internet is wireless.
Cable Internet is one of the most used forms of broadband service, mainly because of its availability and speed. Knowing how it works and what devices you need can help you troubleshoot minor technical problems that may arise.
For example, there may be times when all you need to do to fix your Internet connection is restart your modem or make sure that the cables are not damaged or too dirty.