How Cable Internet Works
Cable Internet works similar to cable television. Cable providers use an infrastructure of fiber optic wires to transmit television broadcasts. These same lines are used to connect you to the Internet. This is possible because each wire actually consists of multiple channels. Most of these channels are used for television transmission, but some are reserved for data transfer. Those channels are used for accessing the Internet and separate ones are used for uploading and downloading. Your speed, in part, depends upon the number of channels made available for users.
The transmissions travel to your cable provider's regional data center. This center acts as the main hub for all of the television and data transmissions for your area. From here, the transmissions are sent out along the fiber optic lines to your Local Node Box. This box collects transmissions for all of the households in your neighborhood; one neighborhood consists of between 1,000 and 1,500 households. From the node, the transmissions are sent into the individual homes.
Because you only have one wire bringing cable into your home, it will need to be split so that one part can connect to your cable television receiver while the other hooks into your cable modem. You will also need an Ethernet card if your computer does not already have one. Most providers will supply and install both your Ethernet card and your cable modem if necessary.
When your cable modem receives the Internet transmission, it translates it into Ethernet data which is then converted by the Ethernet card into information your computer can understand. The process is reversed when you send data from your computer to the Internet.