The term cable Internet access (or simply cable) refers to the delivery of Internet service over a cable television infrastructure. What this means is that instead of using the standard telephone line to transfer data, a standard cable line is used in its place.
Not only does using a cable Internet connection free up your telephone line for incoming calls, but, it also provides much higher transfer rates compared with what is capable through a standard telephone line.
The reason why a cable connection can accomplish this is due to the type of lines used to deliver the internet content to your home computer. While standard Dial Up connections use a small telephone line, which constricts the amount of usable bandwidth available at any one given time, a coaxial cable line has enough bandwidth available through just one line to deliver any of your cable television channels and your internet content.
It does this by allotting a standard 6Mhz "channel". Incredibly, this is the same amount of bandwidth supplied to deliver any one cable television channel. So, when the internet data is sent through the cable line, it is read as if it were just another cable television channel signal. In addition, more likely than not, you will be sharing this internet access with other users within your neighborhood. This is much like having your own web hosting account through one hosting server that you share with other web hosting customers. Even though you have "shared access" the speed is consistently high enough that you will definitely see a vast difference between cable and regular phone line internet connections.
But, just having the coaxial cable line alone will not allow you to receive the information, or get you "surfing the web" at break-neck speeds. You will need to have a cable modem in order to receive the internet signals.
There are several ways that you can get ready to receive all that high speed data transfer. You can either have an external (the most popular way) or internal cable modem unit associated with your computer, or have the cable internet capabilities incorporated within your set-top cable box.
Most cable internet access providers will offer a "lease" of sorts of their own modem equipment to their customers when they sign up for cable, or broadband, internet services. In comparison to this lease option, you can also visit your local computer store and purchase your own cable modem to reduce your monthly costs of accessing the internet.
If you decide to purchase your own cable modem, you must be sure that the unit you are purchasing is a DOCSIS 1.1 compliant Cable Modem. Otherwise, it may not work properly. Or at all. The best decision when considering either leasing/renting or purchasing outright a cable modem is in all honesty to lease/rent one from your cable company.
The reason is two-fold. One, you will have less complications when you need technical support if something goes wrong with your modem. And two, if the cable company decides to do an all around upgrade on their internet system, you will be provided with a new, compliant modem to make the transition as smooth as possible. Plus, leasing/renting a unit from your local cable company is fairly inexpensive at around $10 a month. A small price to pay if anything ever goes wrong and you need a replacement unit.