In telecommunications, cable Internet is a form of broadband Internet access that uses the cable television infrastructure. Like digital subscriber lines and fiber optic networks, cable Internet bridges the last kilometre or mile from the Internet provider to the subscriber. It is layered on top of the existing cable television network infrastructure; just as DSL uses the existing telephone network. Cable networks and telephone networks are the two predominant forms of residential Internet access. Recently, both have seen increased competition from fiber deployments, wireless, and mobile networks.
Cable is one of the most common home Internet connections in the United States. Unlike dial-up and DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) service, cable ISPs (Internet service providers) don't transfer data over phone lines; instead, they use the same coaxial cable that delivers TV signals to your television. The data and TV signals travel along separate channels in the cable, which means that you can view TV shows and access the Internet (assuming you subscribe to both services) without running separate cables to your home.
Users who regularly access the Internet will appreciate cable Internet service for two reasons: It’s fast, and it’s always available. The aging dial-up Internet service is only available when you dial into your Internet service provider’s server via your dial-up modem. And whereas the dial-up Internet service transfers data at a mere 56Kbps (kilobits per second), a cable modem can transfer data at up to (theoretically) 30Mbps (megabits per second). That said, your cable Internet service will never offer the maximum speeds. Cable speed will slow somewhat as more people in your neighborhood access the Internet over cable. Also, some Internet service providers cap your access at a certain speed and charge more for faster service. Maximum cable Internet speeds of about 5Mbps or even lower are common but are still much faster than dial-up. DSL is generally a little slower than cable but in some cases lets users upload data to the Internet at a faster pace.
Many cable Internet providers offer Internet access without tying it to a cable television subscription. This is achieved by charging higher rates than if one bundles it with a cable television subscription. The extra cost is to cover the cable line access, much like phone companies charge a small line access fee for having DSL Internet service without a phone subscription (naked DSL). The cable line tap outside the residence is adjusted to prevent analog cable television channels from being transmitted through. The customer does not receive any cable television channels, including the basic channels. Internet Service Providers who resell high-speed Internet access from or through cable companies, such as Earthlink and AOL, are generally not subject to these higher rates. They can as well provide you Internet service without a cable television subscription. However, it is likely that the bill will be sent by the cable company on behalf of the Internet Service Provider.
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