What is a Broadband Cable Modem?

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

A broadband cable modem is a piece of digital equipment used to connect computers to Internet service provided by a cable television company. Often, a person receives a broadband cable modem from the company through which he purchases his Internet service. In some cases, however, an individual may need to or want to purchase one on his own. A broadband cable modem may be used to provide Internet service for a single computer or a whole network of them within a person’s home or business.

Man holding computer
Man holding computer

In the past, people connected to the Internet via telephone wires. Today, however, they have more choices for establishing an Internet connection. Now, a person can use a broadband cable modem, which is attached to a coaxial cable, to connect to the Internet. This type of modem allows a person to surf the Internet, chat online, and send e-mail without using a telephone line. This means a person can use the Internet and his telephone at the same time, without worrying that callers will get a busy signal while they’re on the Internet.

Broadband cable modems provide a very fast way to connect to and surf the Internet, using the same lines that send cable television service into a person’s home. Essentially, cable signals condense data and send it along a cable line. These electronic streams of data take up very little space, allowing multitudes of signals to move through a cable line at one time. The signals are sent to a broadband cable modem and are decoded. The computer connected to the modem receives an electronic signal that it can translate for the benefit of the computer user.

There are some basic parts broadband cable modems have. Each one has a tuner that makes sure the modem only receives a signal from a particular part of a cable line. This prevents the interception of unwanted data streams. A cable modem also has a demodulator, which receives the signal from the tuner and converts it for recognition by the modem’s analog/digital (A/D) converter. It is this part, also referred to as an A/D converter, that translates the signal data into the form a person’s computer can understand.

Often, people compare broadband cable with DSL service, which requires a DSL modem. Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) service, which many telephone companies provide, also offers high-speed Internet connections. There are pros and cons of both types of service, and both allow a consumer to make telephone calls and use the Internet at the same time. In many cases, cable Internet service offers faster connection speeds, however.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a EasyTechJunkie writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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Discussion Comments


Cable Internet is typically so much faster than DSL that AT&T has been in the process of favoring out its old copper DSL network and replacing it with fiber optic cable. DSL was struggling in many areas to keep up with cable in terms of both price and speed. Fiber optic networks are being put in place to solve that perceived problem. Still, the old DSL network is fantastic for people who live in areas where a fiber optic network isn't in place.

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