Streams

When a cable company offers Internet access over the cable, Internet information can use the same cables because the cable modem system puts downstream data -- data sent from the Internet to an individual computer -- into a 6-MHz channel. On the cable, the data looks just like a TV channel. So Internet downstream data takes up the same amount of cable space as any single channel of programming. Upstream data -- information sent from an individual back to the Internet -- requires even less of the cable's bandwidth, just 2 MHz, since the assumption is that most people download far more information than they upload.

Putting both upstream and downstream data on the cable television system requires two types of equipment: a cable modem on the customer end and a cable modem termination system (CMTS) at the cable provider's end. Between these two types of equipment, all the computer networking, security and management of Internet access over cable television is put into place.