When Is Cable Coming to My Area?

Cable TV is available in nearly every community in the United States, but some people in distant rural locations cannot receive cable because they are out of the service area. Although cable companies continue to expand, the market is in a slump, and some areas may never receive service because it is simply not economical to offer it. However, those who are without service should not give up hope. It is still possible to discover whether cable TV service is coming to a particular area and when it will be available.

How Cable TV Works

Before a prospective cable subscriber attempts to go about the task of discovering when service will be available in a specific area, it can help to understand why it is not already available. Cable TV, as the name suggests, is a wired service. It was originally developed in the late 1940s and early 1950s when all TV programming was broadcast through airwaves. TV stations, most of which were affiliates of the major networks, had to set up large broadcasting towers to transmit content over the air. Televisions then received the transmission signals through built-in antennas.

While this system worked well for the majority of people in the United States, it left many others without service because airwaves can only travel so far before they break up and can no longer be received. Everyone living in communities over 100 miles from a broadcast tower or in communities with mountains in the way of the nearest towers could not receive any television service at all.
In 1948, television changed forever when a method to relay cable signals to areas that could not otherwise receive them was conceived. The man credited with the invention of cable TV is John Walson of Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania. Mahanoy City is located in a valley surrounded by mountains, and no one there was able to receive TV signals at the time. However, Walson had the idea to erect an antenna on top of a mountain where reception was strong and run wires from it to individual residences. In return for this service, he charged customers a one-time installation fee and a $2 monthly service fee.

In less than five years, cable companies were springing up across the country to offer pay TV service through copper coaxial cables. Eventually, new, cable-only networks emerged, and cable systems became what they are today. However, cable TV still requires a wired connection to a local hub and another wired connection from the hub to a regional station where the signals are received via microwave satellite transmissions and processed into separate channels.

The problem with cable TV is that it costs money to install and maintain all the cables, and cable providers are for-profit companies. If residences exist in rural areas or in small communities, cable companies may decide that there is not enough profit potential to justify the cost of establishing service in these areas.

Is Cable Already Available?

It is never a good idea to assume that cable TV is not available simply because it was never previously offered. New technologies, such as fiber optic cables, are allowing cable providers to expand into areas that were once too costly to service. However, discovering if cable is available may require a little effort.

Most people discover that cable service has arrived to an area through some form of advertising. Cable companies mail flyers, cards or letters to every home in new service areas. Many other people hear about cable through neighbors and nearby friends who have already subscribed. In addition, some people see the service trucks emblazoned with the logo of a major cable company and are able to connect the dots.

If all of the aforementioned methods fail, it could help to make a few phone calls or write a few emails. Cable companies contract their services through municipal governments, and the city or town council decides whether they will allow a provider to establish service in the area. This means that it is possible to contact the local authorities in charge of general utilities and telecommunications. These authorities will be able to answer most questions about current and future cable availability.

People who live outside of established communities have the most difficult time discovering when cable will be available. Anyone in an isolated rural area should call the cable providers that operate in surrounding communities. While this may not always yield results, chances are that when cable is available, it will be through one of the providers already on the outskirts of the unserviced area.

The final way to discover when cable is coming to an area is to use a third-party retailer. Several companies exist that operate as independent sales branches for cable providers. These companies often have websites with useful search and comparison tools that can be used to find out whether cable is available and who is providing it. If services are pending, this information may also be found online.