Cable / Satellite / Digital TV
It all began with television, which revolutionized our lives, then cable, satellite, and finally digital TV - all different ways that TV programming is transmitted.
Cable TV provides programming through radio frequency signal by optical fibers or coaxial cables, rather than through airborne radio waves. One of the original reasons for cable TV was to provide reception in areas where regular TV access was difficult (i.e. in mountainous areas). While many people think of cable as beginning with Ted Turner's empire, it actually began in 1948. Public access television began in 1971, and most recently, on-demand programming is offered with a number of cable TV packages; the market is constantly changing.
The service is provided to subscribing customers and allows for viewing of channels not available on standard TV. Cable programming content is less restricted than regular TV programming.
Satellite TV originated from Europe when the first satellite was launched in 1962. Satellite television did not become available in the U.S. until the 1970s. TV satellite transmission begins with an antenna at a large uplink dish, transmitted on a specified frequency, bounced off a transponder in space, and then sends signals back to Earth.
Satellite TV sends and receives channels worldwide, allowing U.S. viewing of programming from around the globe, and is a subscriber-only service. Television receive-only, called "big dish" satellite TV refers to open reception equipment. Direct broadcast via satellite, known as "mini-dish," or closed reception system, is a relatively recent development.
Digital TV works in conjunction with satellite TV, providing more channels for a more realistic viewing experience. Digital TV (DTV) carries more channels than analog TV, and has high definition capabilities (HDTV). Part of HDTV's increasing popularity has to do with the quality of the picture and CD-quality sound.
When viewers have the standard analog cable box, the technology has to be upgraded to provide digital programming. Additional features of digital TV include seven-day programming guides, along with reminders to watch, and censorship options. Digital TV also can be interfaced with the Internet and become an interactive medium (i.e. playing video games, video-on-demand, etc.).
Digital TV has opened up new vistas in television viewing; technology in this area is exploding. To receive the full range of TV options, consumers must pay extra, but services are customizable.