A cable modem is a modem designed to operate over cable TV lines. Because the coaxial cable used by cable TV provides much greater bandwidth than telephone lines, a cable modem can be used to achieve extremely fast access to the World Wide Web. This, combined with the fact that millions of homes are already wired for cable TV, has made the cable modem something of a holy grail for Internet and cable TV companies.
There are a number of technical difficulties, however. One is that the cable TV infrastructure is designed to broadcast TV signals in just one direction – from the cable TV company to people’s homes. The Internet, however, is a two-way system where data also needs to flow from the client to the server. In addition, it is still unknown whether the cable TV networks can handle the traffic that would ensue if millions of users began using the system for Internet access.