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Cable TV is a distribution system that sends out channels over coax, satellite, and Fiber. Did you know the first cable company started in 1948? Simultaneously in Arkansas, Oregon, and Pennsylvania in response to poor overhead antenna TV reception? By 1952, cable tv was servicing close to 14,000 subscribers nationwide. When cable companies originated, their sole purpose was to take local poorly disseminated tv air channels, receive them and repeat them to subscribers. Throughout this article, I will share the evolution of cable and how to cut that exponentially growing bill each month. 

Cable companies by 1950 started to maximize their business by receiving broadcast signals from hundreds of miles away. As a result of this insight, cable providers went from providing and transmitting remote local channels to including a diverse set of channels for their subscribers. These new channels offered a significant dichotomy of new programming to their subscriber base, allowing them to increase their revenue overnight. Thus, what was once built to help communities receive their local and news programming grew into much more.

Yes, the FCC (Federal Communication Commission) responded to broadcasting concerns and restricted retransmitting signals from distant sources. This new business model was to receive signals from other non-local areas, seen as competition by the local TV channels. Nearly eight hundred cable systems serviced about 850,000 subscribers online in 1962, and household names like Westinghouse, TelePrompTer, and Cox began investing in the business.  By the1970s, the FCC continued to impose restrictions that prohibited cable companies from offering movies, sporting events, and other syndicated programming. It was not until 1972 that the FCC lifted its ban, which slowly allowed deregulation and resulted in changes to the originally imposed restrictions that were placed in the 1970s. These laws, unfortunately, caused the cable industry to experience a downturn in its financial stability for several years.

The Federal, State, and local governments continued to drop restrictions and saw substantial growth in their subscribers with the development of satellite cable companies. Also in 1972, Charles Doland and Gerald Levin of Sterlin Manhattan Cable announced the nation’s first pay-tv network, HBO (Home Box Office). The HBO venture leads to the developing and installing a national satellite distribution system. HBO opened many new doors for them and allowed cable companies to grow at lightning speeds since they now had access to so many different types of programming.

Late another local television station in Atlanta used this service to primarily broadcast sports and classic movies. The station is owned by R.E. “Ted” Turner and was distributed nationwide by satellite to cable providers and quickly became known as WTBS. Did you know that by 1980 the lines of cable growth started to flow faster than ever and had close to sixteen million subscribers?

The FCC, local, state and other investors now realized this would continue to be excellent for people. Thus, the Cable Act of 1984 was passed. Between 1984 to 1992, the cable industry dumped close to fifteen billion dollars on wiring America. They didn’t stop with the infostructure but also invested another billion more in program production. Did you know this was the largest private construction project funded since World War II?

Thanks to government deregulation, the cable act and satellite delivery allowed the cable industry to make significant sources for high-quality video entertainment and information for consumers. By 1990, there were about fifty-three million subscribers online; unfortunately, some considerable profit increases came from operators jacking prices. In 1992, Congress did respond to these price increases with new rules that caused cable growth to plummet. One part of these new rules was to enforce exclusive programming and wireless distribution and DSB (Direct Satellite Broadcast).

With nearly sixty-five billion dollars invested in the recent upgrade, cable providers now had broadband networks, allowing them to provide high-speed internet and affordable phone service in the mid-1990s. The next thing to hit the cable industry was DCS (Digital Cable Services), which allowed them to add more channels to their system. By the time 1996 rolled around, most homes had about 7-10 TVs. Despite the 92 Act, satellite networks continued to blast nationwide as people wanted more options for what they could watch. By 1995, we had about 139 cable programming services nationwide plus the regional programming selections. When the spring of 1998 hit, cable network video channels grew to 171. Soon after, cable providers began upgrading their network to mix coax and fiber for channel delivery. Then the Act of 1996 was then passed, becoming a game changer that now permitted more competition and choices for consumers to select from

Cable Companies in the 2000s started testing video services such as VOD: video on demand, subscription video on demand, and interactive TV, which provided new options to consumers and raised their sales once again. AT&T in response to new adverse business costs of equipment in 2001, AT&T turned their systems over to Comcast, making them the largest cable operator with over twenty-two million customers.

The STB (Set Top Boxes), a box used to describe the cable signal by amplification, became available at more affordable prices in the mid1990. However, customers that wished for more cutting-edge services such as HD-TV were available at a higher rate. Some of these video services where they started with these services were HBO, Showtime, Discovery, and ESPN.           

After a study’s results were published in 2002 by CTAM (Cabel & Telecommunication Association for Marketing), they found that. About two of every household had access to three cutting-edge technologies: cable television, cell phones, and computers. Also, they learned that eighteen percent of all US homes had digital cable, and twenty percent used high-speed modems to connect to the internet.

Thus, many providers invested in upgrading their facilities to handle two-way communication because of the report and their current broadband data growth. Since cable companies noticed an increasing demand for more digital channels, and thus they did so with close to two hundred and eighty national channels. At the end of 2002, the consumer electronics and cable industry reached a “plug-and-play” agreement supporting one-way communication to digital TVs without requiring an STB. TVs in stores nationally were marked as DCR Ready, and all they needed was a cable security card that controlled which channels would be decrypted and allowed to be watched. By 2003, tremendous growth was made in HD TV Installations, VOD (Video-On-Demand), digital cable, and many other advanced services. Did you know that by 2003 the cable industry had over five million users comprising TV and telephone using VOIP(voice over IP)? 

NCTA also verified that by September 1, 2004, seven hundred cableCARDS were installed and close to five thousand by mid-November. When 2005 surfaced, the NCTA (National Cable & Telecommunication Association) estimated that their customer base had grown to one hundred thousand. At the end of the 3rd quarter of 2005, Cable’s capital reached one hundred billion and 24.3 million subscribers.

Today, many cable companies offer video entertainment, internet service, and digital telephone service to millions of consumers and businesses. Some providers offer internet services from 100MB to 10Gig and support direct fiber from the street. The providers will run the fiber from their gigapond to an ONT (Optical Network Terminal) installed in your home. What started with a repeater service for local broadcasts that were not received well has now evolved into a network with over. Eight hundred programming networks are seen by 93% of consumers.

True, cable operators have gotten quite clever, offering a variety of programming, gaming, music, premium pay-per-event, high-speed internet, and interactive TV options. You can even view your account, review all your devices, make changes to your account, and pay your bill with many cable companies today. Unfortunately, they have started to extort many of their customers by installing with an affordable price today and then when the year ends, seeing the bill get jacked up to double or more. 

Cable companies feel that if you want their service, you have to pay, and they think they can charge and raise your bill whenever they want. They often blame it on networks asking for more money, but this is not the case; they are greedy. So, you can do two simple things right now to ensure you get the lowest possible cable bill charges. Call them, ask them for the lower promotion, and mark it on your calendar when it ends. They will have no problem billing you two or three times what you pay for the same service when the promotion ends.

Did you know you can get all your local channels on Roku and many pay channels there for free? You can also use your cable company for high-speed internet, either 500/Mbs, 1/Gbps, or higher, cancel all your TV Channels, and return those boxes immediately. Why would I do that? Simple, they charge too much money for channels you can get for much less or free. How? Invest in a smart TV or purchase a ROKO Stick or other internet tv smart box and stream your channels.

What’s the catch? Nothing, your cable company doesn’t want you to know you can do this. You can download free apps to connect and get your local news channels that say they are only broadcasted on your cable network. You must understand two things to do this: 1) Subscribe to at least 500 M/bps or higher and 2) Realize that you will be streaming your channels, and there may be a 1-2 second pause when changing channels. 3) You will be connected to the internet and have access to everything on the internet; thus, when you use a voice controller, it will search for what you want, just like you were online. Hooking up to a direct ethernet is the most reliable unless you have a decent router that supports the latest WIFI standards.

We learned a lot about how cable started and evolved and that they know what is happening, so expect changes for other types of content they want to sell you.