Does Cable TV Use Bandwidth?


Suppose you are in the middle of a Zoom call and your video starts jittering. The signal transmission faces interruptions and you inspect your entire internet equipment to find the root cause but to no avail. Your in-home network is working perfectly, yet the lag in your online activity suggests otherwise. What else could be the reason? You look at your cable TV and start to wonder. Does your cable TV use bandwidth? This is where we come in. Understanding the technical aspect of your connections is not as easy as it sounds, but this post will aim at making comprehension a piece of cake. Stay tuned to find out whether your television signals block your internet signals or not.

How does a Cable Connection Work?

Cable companies provide internet, TV, and landline services to consumers, nowadays. Traditionally, though, cable providers only carried television programming. However, with time, they capitalized on the capability of cable networks and started delivering additional connectivity services to beat the market competition. For instance, today, when you reach out to Cox cable, you can get both cable internet and phone on top of the Cox cable TV. This is the case with the rest of the cable providers, as well.

How do cable companies deliver these services to households, anyway? Using coaxial cable infrastructures, which run the length of the entire United States, underground, on poles and even, undersea. Coaxial cables are copper wires that consist of an inner conductor through which electrical signals flow, carrying television or internet data. You might have seen these cables if you have a television. Coaxial cables were once used for TV transmissions only, but they now supply internet connectivity as well. 

Cable connections work in this way: A cable provider sends an internet or TV signal through cable distribution lines to a target community. From there, the signal reaches a consumer’s home via a service drop. Then, the cable wiring in the house transmits the signal to cable jacks in the walls. This is the point where the consumer has a choice whether to connect an internet modem to the wall outlet via a coax cable or a television set-top box, depending on the degree of the subscription. This is how cable connections supply different services to the subscribers.

What does Cable Bandwidth Mean?

Cable bandwidth is the total capacity of a coax cable to carry signals from one point to another. Let’s take the example of a water pipe, here. The diameter of the pipe is its bandwidth. The greater the diameter of the pipe and the wider the passage, the more volume of water droplets it can carry in one second. On the other hand, the smaller the diameter of the pipe and the narrower the passage, the lesser volume of water droplets will get to flow through it in one second.  

Thus, bandwidth is the maximum cable data that can be transmitted through a coaxial wire in a given amount of time. Since cable signals travel in the form of radio waves, cable bandwidth is the range of frequencies that carry these signals from the provider to the subscriber. Usually, cable bandwidth is denoted by “bps” or bits per second, wherein a bit is the smallest unit of data. 

For instance, when you browse different cable internet plans in the market, you see them spelled out by their bandwidth and speed. Suppose you choose a 100 Mbps internet plan for your home. This means that your selected cable connection will be capacious enough to carry 100 million bits of data at a signified speed.

Does Cable TV Use Bandwidth?

Every type of radio communication or information transmission conducted over copper cables uses bandwidth. This includes television service. As mentioned above, your cable provider sends television programming to your house in the shape of radiofrequency signals. These TV signals travel over the coaxial cables to reach your connected cable box. Doing so, they take up space on the overall cable bandwidth. Yet, they pick only a few selective frequency channels to move through the insulated wires, instead of usurping the entire spectrum. Thus, cable TV does use the cable bandwidth transmitted by your cable company.

Does Cable TV Use Internet Bandwidth?

We can say yes and no to that. Let us explain. 

No, cable TV signals do not clash with internet signals on the cable pathway. They share the same cable bandwidth as supplied by the cable provider. However, they stick to their respective frequency channels. This ensures a completely distinct yet simultaneous transmission of data. So, if your cable internet is slowing down, then rest assured, your cable TV is not the culprit behind it. Its signals are broadcast on separate frequencies. This is evident by the fact that even if your cable internet faces an outage in your area, your cable TV stays immune to the occurrence and keeps on displaying your favorite networks and channels unless intentionally withheld by the provider at the backend.

The only instance in which your television service may tap into the internet bandwidth is for IP streaming. Many cable providers in this era integrate the top streaming apps like Netflix into their cable boxes to entice the viewers and make sure that they don’t miss out on exclusive content. Netflix requires internet access to function, which is why cable boxes come internet-enabled and connect to the internet data to play streaming content. Despite this, the cable TV signals and the internet signals remain distinct in the cable bandwidth spectrum at the source.

The Final Word

Cable connections may be confusing for average consumers, yet knowing how they work and how they carry data is key to utilizing them optimally. This post shows you how cable TV signals and cable internet signals travel alongside each other through the coax cables, how they feed into the cable bandwidth collectivity, and how they co-habit. To rephrase, cable TV does use cable bandwidth to transmit data, but it does not clash with internet signals or their bandwidth share. We hope this answers your question.

Speak Your Mind