Cable companies use digital technology to compress video signals, allowing multiple video program streams to be carried in the bandwidth space normally required for one analog channel. Typically, the signal is sent to the home and decompressed in the set-top box for display on the television. Digital cable allows cable systems to offer a greater choice and quality than is possible with analog television. The popular supplement to traditional cable service provides a variety of services that are becoming household standards, such as video-on-demand, interactive television and commercial-free music.
Digital television also allows cable companies and programmers to offer high definition television. Cable networks have responded to the availability of additional digital capacity by launching a wide array of new programming services. Digital tiers often package network lineups by genre, such as sports, music, movies, family, and Spanish-language programming.
Pennsylvania's cable industry began an aggressive rollout, more than a decade ago, of High Definition Television (HDTV) to the vast majority of the state's households. HDTV continues to enhance the quality of television viewing, with more than three-quarters of U.S. households having an HDTV set in 2012 - an increase of 14 percent from a year earlier. And, 40 percent of those homes have multiple HD sets, a trend likely to increase as bulky, standard definition sets are exchanged for today's sleeker, tech-advanced models.
The nation's cable networks have been at the forefront of providing programming available in high definition. In addition to providing improved picture quality, HDTV offers a widescreen format with many programs also featuring digital surround sound. HDTV has been described as the most dramatic change for viewers since the introduction of color television. Cable companies began delivering HDTV service in earnest to customers in 2002, and deployment has been on a dramatic upward arc ever since.
From the inception of high definition, the cable industry has worked closely with television manufacturers to ensure that consumers receive HDTV in the most convenient and user-friendly ways possible. The deployment of HDTV service and programming represents one of the most rapid rollouts launched by the broadband cable industry. Today, consumers continue to enjoy a growing choice of creative and innovative high definition programs and features.
Video-on-Demand is a method of delivering video to customers upon request and is unique to broadband cable because of the industry's robust two-way network. Programming is ordered with the push of a remote button and the content plays with pause, rewind and fast-forward functionality. The content is stored on servers at the cable system headend. Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) capture video programming onto a hard drive located in the set-top box for viewing at a later time, DVRs also allow the viewer to pause, fast forward and manage other functions and applications. With the introduction of digital, HD and interactivity, video offerings have improved dramatically in recent years...and consumers now have more choice than ever before.