Glossary of Cable Terms

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Abrasion Resistance – Ability of material or cable to resist surface wear.

Access Channels – Cable channels, including public, educational, and governmental, made available to community members on a free or leased basis either with or without studio and production facilities. An Issuing Authority may require as part of a licensing agreement that such channels be provided. The cable operator may not exercise editorial control over the programming on these channels, except that a cable operator may refuse to transmit any programming that contains obscenity or indecency, 47 U.S.C. ¤ 531 (compare Local Origination).

Access Corporation – An corporation organized within a municipality for the purpose of operating that municipality’s access channel(s).

Alternating Current – An electric current that continually reverses its direction giving a definite plus and minus wave form at fixed intervals.

Alternating Current Resistance – The resistance offered by any circuit to the flow of alternating current.

Ambient Temperature – Any all encompassing temperature within a given area.

American Wire Gage (AWG) – The standard system used for designating wire diameter. Also referred to as the Brown and Sharpe (B&S) wire gage.

Ampacity – (See current-carrying capacity).

Amplifier – A device used to increase the power of amplitude of an electrical signal. Amplifiers are spaced at regular intervals throughout a cable system to restore the amplitude of television signals which are attenuated as they pass through the cable network.

Analog – Technology originally designed for transmitting voice (e.g., telephones) where signals are sent as electromagnetic waves. For video service, the signal is sent from the television broadcaster to the local cable operator to the subscriber’s home. Along the way, there are a series of amplifiers; however, the manner in which the signal is sent is analogous to making a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy so that by the time the signal gets to the subscriber’s home, the quality of the picture or audio may not be as clear as the original, meaning there may be snow or noise interference (compare Digital).

Anneal – To subject to heat with subsequent cooling. When annealing copper; the act of softening the metal by means of heat to render it less brittle.

Anti-Oxidant – A substance which prevents or slows down oxygen decomposition of a material.

Anti-Ozonant – A substance which prevents or slows down material degradation due to ozone reaction.

Armor – Mechanical protection usually accomplished by a metallic layer of tape, braid or served wires. Normally found only over the outer sheath.

Armored Cable – A cable provided with a wrapping of metal, usually steel wires, flat tapes, or interlocked tapes, primarily for the purpose of mechanical protection.

Ascertainment – A process that affords the public with an opportunity to comment and participate during the initial licensing of a cable operator or the renewal licensing of the incumbent cable operator. It is also a period of time for the Issuing Authority to gather data and review the cable operator’s past and present performance and to identify the community’s future cable-related needs and interests.

ASTM – Abbreviation for American Society for Testing and Materials. Attenuator – A device for reducing the amplitude of a signal.

American Wire Gage (AWG) – a standard system used for designating wire diameter. Also referred to as the Brown and Sharpe (B&S) wire gage.

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B&S Gage – Brown and Sharpe wire gage used for copper conductor (same as American Wire Gage).

Bandwidth – (1) The range of usable frequencies that a cable television system can carry. (2) A measure of the information-carrying capacity of a communication channel. The bandwidth corresponds to the difference between the lowest and highest frequency signal that can be carried by the channel. (3) The speed (bit rate of velocity) at which data can be transferred and presented. A voice transmission by telephone requires a bandwidth of 3 kHz. An NTSC TV channel occupies a bandwidth of 6 MHz. A cable system bandwidth may occupy from 5 to 550 MHz on the electromagnetic spectrum. Baseband RCA Jack On the DCT, they are used for audio and video connections from the DCT to a video monitor, stereo or VCR. It provides signal output to the TV.

Binder – A helically applied tape or thread used for holding assembled cable components in place until additional manufacturing operations are performed.

Black Box – Term used to describe a cable television descrambling device that receives converts, and decodes scrambled signals without proper authorization from the cable operator. Black boxes are illegal.

Blackout – Term used to describe the non-broadcast of a live event (e.g., sports, cultural) usually imposed by the sponsor(s) of the event (e.g., NFL).

Boot – A protective covering over any portion of a cable or conductor in addition to its jacket or insulation.

Braid – A fibrous or metallic group of filaments interwoven in cylindrical form to form a covering over one or more wires.

Breakdown (Puncture) – A disruptive discharge through insulation due to failure under electrostatic stress.

Breakdown Voltage – The voltage at which the insulation between two conductors, or a conductor and ground will break down.

Broadband – A general term used to describe wide bandwidth equipment or systems which can carry a large proportion of the electromagnetic spectrum. Descriptive term for evolving digital technologies that provide consumers with a single-switched facility offering integrated access to voice, video, video-on-demand, high-speed data, and interactive information delivery.

Basic Service Tier (BST) – Lowest level of service available; includes the retransmission of local television broadcast signals and local public access channels. Rates for the basic service tier are the only rates currently regulated. Subscribers with cable-ready televisions do not need to rent or purchase cable converters in order to obtain only the basic service tier.

Building Wire – Wire used for light and power in permanent installations utilizing 600 volts or less. Usually in an enclosure and which will not be exposed to outdoor environments.

Bunch Stranding – A method of stranding where a single conductor is formed from any number of wires twisted together in the same direction, such that all strands have the same lay length, but no specific geometric arrangement.

Butt Joint – A splice or connection formed by placing the ends of two conductors together and joining them by welding, brazing or soldering.

Butt Wrap – Tape wrapped in an edge-to-edge manner with no over-lapping between adjacent turns.

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Cable Core – A cable core is the portion of an insulated cable lying under the protective covering or coverings.

Cable Filler – The material used in multiple conductor cables to occupy the spaces formed by the assembly of components, thus forming a core of the desired shape.

Cable In – On the DCT, an F-type connector used for the coaxial cable input port.

Cable Advisory Committee (CAC) – CAC is appointed by the Issuing Authority, and its role varies according to the authority defined by the Issuing Authority. Typical responsibilities include informing and educating the public about cable television service, overseeing the ascertainment process, acting as liaison to the cable operator, supervising the cable operator’s response to complaints, responding to residents’ questions regarding the cable system, and staying abreast of community programming issues.

Capacitance (Capacity) – That property of a system of conductors and dielectrics which permits the storage of electricity when potential difference exists between the conductors.

Capacitive Coupling – Electrical interaction between two conductors caused by the capacitance between them.

Capillary Action – The phenomenon of liquid rising in a small interstice due to surface tension.

Carbon Black – A black pigment. It imparts useful ultraviolet protective properties, and so is frequently suspended into plastic and elastomeric compounds intended for outside weather exposure.

Charging Current – The current produced when a d-c voltage is first applied to conductors of an unterminated cable. It is caused by the capacitive reactance of the cable, and decreases exponentially with time.

Chlorinated Polyethylene (CPE) – A synthetic rubber jacketing compound.

Chlorosulfonated Polyethylene (CSPE) – A synthetic rubber jacketing compound manufactured by Du Pont under trade name of Hypalon.

Circular Mil – A unit of area equal to the area of a circle whose diameter is 1 mil (0.001 inch). Used chiefly in specifying cross-sectional areas of round conductors.

Coating – A material applied to the surface of a conductor to prevent environmental deterioration, facilitate soldering or improve electrical performance.

Coaxial Cable – A cable consisting of a conducting outer metal tube insulated from a central conducting core, used for transmission of electronic signals.

Cold Flow – Any permanent deformation due to pressure or mechanical force, without the aid of eat softening.

Cold Joint – A soldered joint made with insufficient heat.

Cold Test – Any test to determine the performance of cables during or after subjection to a specified low temperature for a specified time.

Cold Work – The hardening and embrittlement of metal by repeated flexing action.

Color Code – A color system for circuit identification by use of solid colors tracers, braids surface Printing, etc.

Color Saturation – The degree to which a color is free of white.

Community antenna TV (CATV) – now more commonly known as “Cable TV”. Channel In television, a single path or section of the spectrum 6 MHz wide which carries a television signal.

Compact Round Conductor – A conductor constructed with a central core surrounded by one or more layers of helically laid wires and formed into final shape by rolling, drawing, or other means.

Compact Stranded Conductor – A unidirectional or conventional concentric conductor manufactured to a specified diameter, approximately 8 to 10% below the nominal diameter of a noncompact conductor of the same cross-sectional area.

Concentric – lay Conductor – Conductor constructed with a central core surrounded by one or more layers of helically laid wires.

Concentric Stranding – A method of stranding, wherein a single conductor is formed from a central wire surrounded by one or more layers of helically layed wires. Each layer is applied with an opposite direction of lay. The first layer has six wires, and each additional layer has six more wires than does the previous one. Thus the second layer has twelve wires, the third layer has eighteen wires, etc.

Concentricity – In a wire or cable, the measurement of the location of the center of the conductor with respect to the geometric center of the circular insulation.

Conductivity – A term used in describing the capability of a material to carry an electrical charge. Usually expressed as a percentage of copper conductivity — copper being one hundred (100%) percent. Conductivity is expressed for a standard configuration of conductor.

Conductor – A wire or combination of wires not insulated from one another, suitable for carrying an electric current.

Conductor Core – The center strand or member about which one of more layers of wires or members are laid helically to form a concentric-lay or rope-lay conductor. Continuous Vulcanization (CV) – Simultaneous extrusion and vulcanization of wire coating materials.

Contrahelical – A term meaning the application of two or more layers of spirally twisted, served, or wrapped materials where each successive layer is wrapped in the opposite direction to the preceding layer.

Conventional Concentric Conductor – Conductor constructed with a central core surrounded by one or more layers of helically laid wires. The direction of lay is reversed in successive layers and generally with an increase in length of lay for successive layers.

Converter – Equipment authorized by and often provided by a cable operator for a fee that allows access or controls interference to cable services. Both analog and digital converters are currently available. Analog converters use traditional radio wave technology and provide programming through the one-way transmission of information from the cable operator to the subscriber. Digital converters use computer technology and provide two-way transmission resulting in access to digital programming and interactive services, such as the on-screen purchase of pay-per-view movies and on-screen television guides (see Black Box, Descrambler, and Set-Top Box).

Cord – Small, flexible insulated cable usually size l0AWG or smaller.

Core – Any portion of a cable over which some other cable component, such as a shield, jacket, sheath or armor, is applied.

Corona – A luminous discharge due to ionization of the gas surrounding a conductor around which exists a voltage gradient exceeding a certain critical value.

Corona Resistance – The time that insulation will withstand a specified level field-intensified ionization that does not result in the immediate complete breakdown of the insulation. Also called voltage endurance.

Corona Test – A test to determine the ability of a cable to withstand the formation of corona under an increasing applied voltage, and to extinguish corona when a corona-producing voltage is reduced.

Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) – equipment residing at the customer’s site.

Cable Programming Service Tier (CPST) – Unregulated service tier that typically includes channels such as CNN, ESPN, Lifetime, MTV, and Nickelodeon. Subscribers wishing to obtain CPST programming must subscribe to BST and in some circumstances must rent or purchase a converter.

Cramming – Term used to describe the situation where a cable operator charges the subscriber for services or equipment that the subscriber did not request.

Crazing – Minute lines appearing in or near the surface of materials, such as ceramics and plastics usually resulting as a response to environment. Crazing cannot be felt by running a fingernail across it. If the fingernail catches, it is a crack, not crazing.

Creep – The dimensional change with time of a material under load. At room temperature, it is sometimes called cold flow.

Creepage – Electrical leakage on a solid dielectric surface.

Crimp Termination – A wire termination that is applied by physical pressure of terminal to wire.

Cross Linking – The establishment of chemical bonds between polymer molecule chains. It may be accomplished by heat, vulcanization, irradiation or the addition of a suitable chemical agent.

Cross Sectional Area – The area of the cut surface of an object cut at right angles to the length of the object.

Cross Sectional Area of a Conductor – The sum of cross sectional areas of all the individual wires composing the conductor. It is generally expressed in circular mils.

Crush Resistance Test – A test to determine the ability of a cable to resist damage from radial compression, such as might be encountered in service.

Cure – (See Vulcanization.)

Current-carrying Capacity – The maximum current an insulated conductor or cable can continuously carry without exceeding its temperature rating. It is also called ampacity.

Cut-through – Resistance of solid material to penetration by an object under conditions of pressure, temperature, etc.

Cut-through Resistance – The ability of a given material to withstand penetration by a solid object of specified dimensions and weight, which is permitted to free fall onto this material from a specified height.

Continuous Vulcanization (CV) – Simultaneous extrusion and vulcanization of wire coating materials.

Cycle – One complete sequence of variations in an alternating current. The number of cycles occurring in one second is called the frequency.

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Decibel – Unit to express differences of power level. It is used to express power loss in cables.

Decoder – The source that receives a digital message and translates it back into an analog message. Converts scrambled TV signal into a viewable picture. Also known as “descrambler” and decryptor. See ENCODER.

Demarcation Point (DEMARC) – a point at which two services may interface and identify the division of responsibility. An example is a private network.

Density – The weight per unit volume of a substance.

Derating Factor – A factor used to reduce a current carrying capacity of a wire when used in other environments from that for which the value was established.

Descrambler – An electronic circuit that restores an intentionally scrambled video signal to its original standard form. An electronic device which translates scrambled or decoded signals in such a way as to recover the original message or signal. Descrambling technology is legal when the device is authorized by the cable operator and illegal when used to obtain services not purchased through the cable operator (see Black Box, Converter, Decoder, and Set-Top Box).

Designated Market Area (DMA) – Standard established by Nielsen Media Research used to determine a broadcast station’s market area. The FCC adopted this standard under which broadcast stations are given options of carriage by either selecting mandatory carriage (must carry) or retransmission consent (may carry) for each cable system operating within the broadcast station’s DMA.

Dielectric Breakdown – The voltage at which a dielectric material is punctured; which is divisible by thickness to give dielectric strength.

Dielectric Constant – That property (K) of an insulating material which is the ratio of the parallel capacitance (C) of a given configuration of electrodes with the material as the dielectric, to the capacitance of the same electrode configuration with a vacuum as the dielectric.

Dielectric Strength – The voltage which an insulating material can withstand before breakdown occurs, usually expressed as a voltage gradient (such as volts per mil).

Dielectric Tests – 1). Tests which consist of the application of a voltage higher than the rated voltage for a specified time for the purpose of determining the adequacy against breakdown of insulating materials and spacings under normal conditions. 2). The testing of insulating materials by application of constantly increasing voltage until failure occurs.

Digital Cable Terminal (DCT) – A device that will receive analog signals, receive digital signals and convert them to analog, and transmit analog signals to the TV.

Digital Cable TV – A digital TV service by the Cable Company which adds channels to current programming. Programming includes PPV channels, digital music, special niche programming and multiplexed premium services. Digital Compression Reducing the storage space and/or transmission data rate necessary to store or transmit information represented in a digital format. Common digital compression methods include the suppression of long strings of “1s” and “0s”.

Digital – Takes the continuously varying physical quantities of analog (amplitude and frequency) and represents those varying quantities with codes consisting of “1s” and “0s”. This puts the signal into “discrete” (separate and distinct) levels and not “continuously varying” levels. Computer technology that transmits signals by breaking up the message into electronic bits, sending the message over the network, and recreating the message at the other end. Since the signal is recreated at the end location, the system is less sensitive to interference such as noise and snow. In addition, digital technology allows for compression so that more channels can be carried. Often cable operators who utilize digital technology will offer digital cable television, high-speed data (Internet), and digital telephone services (compare Analog).

Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS) – a satellite service of one or more entertainment or information program channels which can be received directly using an antenna on the subscriber’s premises.

Direction of Lay – The lateral direction, designated as left-hand or right-hand, in which the wires of a member or units of a conductor run over the top of the member or conductor as they recede from an observer looking along the axis of the member or conductor.

Dissipation – Unusable or lost energy, as the production of unused heat in a circuit.

Distant Signal – A television channel from another market (DMA) imported and carried locally by a cable television system, e.g., “Superstation” WTBS Channel 17-Atlanta.

Digital Music Express (DMX) – Downlink Transmission of signals from a satellite to a dish or earth station.

Drain Wire – An uninsulated wire, usually placed directly beneath and in electrical contact with a grounded shield, which is used for making ground connections.

Drawing – In the manufacture of wire, pulling the metal through a die or series of dies for reduction of diameter to specified size.

Drop – (House Drop) A line from the feeder cable to the subscriber’s television or converter.

Durometer – A measurement used to denote the hardness of a substance (usually of thermosetting and thermoplastic materials).

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Eccentricity – A measure of the lack of coincidence of longitudinal axes of a circular cross-sectional wire and its surrounding circular cross-sectional insulation. It is expressed as the percentage ratio of the distance between wire and insulation centers to the difference between wire and insulation radii.

Effective Competition – Where two or more cable operators provide service in the same municipality, one or both of the cable operators may seek a determination from the FCC that there is sufficient competition to control BST rates and thus government regulation is no longer required. If the FCC grants the cable operator’s petition, the FCC deems the municipality to have effective competition and revokes the Cable Television Division’s authority to establish BST rates for that municipality.

Egress – In cable television, unwanted leakage of signals from a cable system. Elastic Deformation – A change in a substance whereby it reverts to its original dimensions on release of an applied stress.

Elastomer – A material that at room temperature returns rapidly to approximately its initial dimensions and shape after substantial deformation by a weak stress and release of the stress.

Elongation – The fractional increase in length of a material stressed in tension.

Embossing – A means of marker identification by means of thermal indentation leaving raised lettering on the sheath material of cable.

Encryption – Process intended to ensure message security or secrecy. Also an approach to securing TV transmissions.

Environmental Stress Cracking Resistance – The ability of a material to resist crack formation and crack propagation when subjected to stress within a contaminating environment.

Equal Opportunity Rule – If a political candidate obtains time on a broadcast station, other candidates for the same office (or their appointed representatives) may obtain an “equal opportunity” on that station. Equal opportunity usually includes equal time, but the term means more than equal time. For example, it means the right to obtain time in a period likely to attract approximately the same size audience as the period in which the opposing candidate appeared. Bona fide news programming is exempt, meaning that a news program may determine one candidate is especially newsworthy on a specific occasion and does not need to provide equal coverage or opportunity to the other candidate(s). The equal opportunity rule applies to local origination channels and broadcast channels; it does not apply to access channels which are handled on a first-come first-served basis.

Equilay conductor – Conductor constructed with a central core surrounded by more than one layer of helically laid wires, all layers having a common length of lay, direction of lay being reversed successive layers. (See Concentric-lay Conductor.) Ethylene Propylene Rubber – A synthetic rubber insulation based upon ethylene propylene hydrocarbon.

Extrusion – The process of continuously forcing either a plastic or elastomer and a conductor or core through a die, thereby applying an insulation or jacket to the conductor or core.

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“F”- Type Connector – A connector used by the cable television industry to connect coaxial cable to equipment.

Fatigue Resistance – The ability of a repeatedly deformed material to resist crystallization and accompanying failure.

Fault Current – The maximum electrical current that will flow in a short-circuited system prior to the actuation of any current-limiting device. It is far in excess of normal current flow and is limited only by a system’s generating capacity and a cable’s impedence. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) – Federal government agency responsible for the regulatory oversight of the communications infrastructure in the United States. (

Fibrous Filler – A material used to fill interstices in cables made from fibers, such as jute, polypropylene, cotton, glass, etc.

Filler – Any material used in multiconductor cables to occupy interstices between insulated conductors or form a core into a desired shape (usually circular). Also, any substance, often inert, added to a plastic or elastomer to improve its properties or decrease its cost.

Film – Thin, plastic sheeting having nominal thickness usually not greater than 0.010 inch.

Flame Resistance – The ability of a burning material to extinguish its own flame, once its flame-initiating heat source is removed.

Flame Retardance – Ability of a material to prevent the spread of combustion by a low rate of travel so the flame will not be conveyed.

Flex Life – The number of bends or twists, of specified type, that a cable will withstand before failure.

Flexing Test – Any test to determine the ability of a cable to withstand repeated bending and twisting.

Franchise Authority – Legal term for governmental entity authorized to regulate rates, oversee license process, and enforce customer service standards. (compare Issuing Authority).

Franchise Fee – A fee paid by a cable operator to a government authority(ies) for the right to operate the cable franchise in a specified area.

Frequency – The physical quantities that vary to produce varying degrees of tone and pitch in a voice signal. The number of times an electromagnetic wave repeats an identical cycle in a unit of time (usually one second). One Hertz (Hz) is one cycle per second. A kHz (kilohertz) is one thousand cycles per second; a MHz (megahertz) is one million cycles per second; a GHz (gigahetz) is one billion cycles per second. See AMPLITUDE.

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Ghost – A weak image of the received picture, offset either to the left or right of the primary image, usually caused by signal path reflections.

Grade A Contour – Field strength of a television broadcast station computed in accordance with regulations promulgated by the FCC. Line setting forth the area where broadcast signals are strong enough to be received by 90% of the subscribers in the specific location at least 70% of the time. Predicted Grade A Contour is that area in which a good picture is computed to be available (see Local Signals and Must Carry).

Grade B Contour – Field strength of a television broadcast station computed in accordance with regulations promulgated by the FCC. Line setting forth the area where broadcast signals are strong enough to be received by 90% of the subscribers in the specific location at least 50% of the time. Predicted Grade B Contour is that area in which a good picture is computed to be available (see Local Signals and Must Carry).

Ground – A conducting connection, intentional or accidental, between an electric circuit or equipment and the earth or some conducting body serving in place of the earth.

Ground Potential – Zero potential with respect to the ground or earth.

Grounded Neutral – A circuit operates with grounded neutral when the neutral is metallically connected to ground and there is a provision for immediate removal of a faulted element.

Grounding Conductor – A conductor used to connect equipment or the grounded circuit of a wiring system to a grounding electrode or electrodes; usually colored green.

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Hard-drawn Wire – As applied to aluminum and copper, wire that has been cold drawn to final size so as to approach the maximum strength obtainable.

High Definition Television (HDTV) – A very high quality television signal with picture resolution nearly equal to that of film. Improved television system that provides approximately twice the vertical and horizontal video resolution of existing standards and audio quality approaching that of compact discs. The result is an enhanced picture and audio quality.

Head-end In The Sky (HITS) – A business venture to provide services through digital compression. Digitally compressed video and audio are up-linked from the NDTC to one or more satellites and down-linked to cable television head-ends at various locations.

Head-end – A head-end is a facility that contains sending and satellite receivers, has antennas which receive signals from local TV studios and sometimes has TV studios inside the facility which produce shows and send the signals to other locations by satellite or antenna. When a head-end facility receives signals from another satellite, it retransmits the signals (analog and digital) at frequencies the cable plant can use. The electronic control center of a cable system. This is the site of the receiving antenna and the signal processing equipment essential to proper functioning of a cable system.

Heat Endurance – The time of heat aging that a material can withstand before failing a specific physical or electrical test.

Heat Resistance – Ability of a substance to maintain physical and chemical identity and chemical identity and electrical integrity under specified temperature conditions.

Heat Shock – A test to determine stability of a material by sudden exposure to a high temperature for a short period of time.

Helix – A spiral winding.

Hertz – (Abbr. H) A term rapidly replacing cycles-per-second as an indication of frequency.

High Voltage Time Test – A high-voltage time test is an accelerated life test on a cable sample in which voltage is the factor increased.

Homes Passed – Those homes within a municipality that are located close enough to a cable line to be able to connect with cable service, regardless of whether those households actually opt to subscribe to the cable service.

Hygroscopic – Attracting or absorbing moisture from the ambient atmosphere.

Hypalon – Du Pont trademark for chlorosulfonated polyethylene (CSPE) synthetic rubber.

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Input/Output (I/O) – the process of transmitting data between a peripheral unit and a unit of equipment more centrally located.

Insulated Cable Engineers Association (ICEA Formerly lPCEA) – An Association of Engineers of most cable manufacturers.

Impulse Pay-Per-View – A pay-per-view ordering mechanism whereby subscribers place orders directly into cable converters via their universal remote. Events are immediately authorized for viewing.

Institutional Network (I-Net) – A separate closed loop network for municipal institutional use only. Used to connect police, fire departments, town or city hall, and schools; can contain both video and data; can also be used to monitor heat, light, and security systems.

Ingress – The unwanted leakage of interfering signals into a cable television system.

Interactive Cable System – A two-way cable system that has the capability to provide a subscriber with the ability to enter commands or responses on an in-home terminal. An example would be the order entry of Pay-Per-View events.

Irradiation – The exposure of a material to high energy emissions. In insulations for the purpose of favorably altering the molecular structure. Excessive exposure can be detrimental to the physical and electrical properties.

Issuing Authority – Legal term for the governmental entity authorized to grant a license or franchise to a cable operator. (compare Franchise Authority). Jack – A connecting device to which a wire or wires of a circuit may be attached and which is arranged for the insertion of a plug.

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Jacket – A material covering over a wire insulation or an assembly of components, usually an extruded plastic or elastomer.

Jumper – A short length of conductor used to make a connection between terminals, around a break in a circuit, or around an instrument.

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LAN – Local Area Network.

Lap Splice – A permanent joint formed in a short overlapping region of two parallel conductors or tapes. Also called parallel splice.

Lay – The distance along a cable occupied by one complete helix of a strand or conductor. The direction of lay (left or right hand) is the direction of the helix looking away from an observer. Also to arrange the wires or members of a conductor either by twisting them or by forming them into one or more layers helically applied.

Leakage – Undesired emission of signals out of a cable television system, generally through cracks in the cable, corroded or loose connections, or loose device closures.

Light Emitting Diode (LED) – Visual channel display found on the face of most cable TV converters.

Length of Lay – The axial length of one turn of the helix of a wire or member.

License Amendment – Formal change in the terms and conditions of an existing license.

License or Franchise Renewal – Contract executed by the Issuing Authority and the cable operator that renews the authorization to operate a cable system.

License or Franchise – An agreement between the Issuing Authority and the cable operator that authorizes the construction or operation of a cable system. It also establishes the terms and conditions of cable service such as the length of the contract, customer service standards, and procedures for funding public access channels.

Line Extension – Construction of a cable line in an area that falls outside or exceeds the primary service area as defined in the license. The cable operator may require that subscribers pay for the extra costs involved in laying cable to this geographical area. (See also Primary Service Area; compare Non-Standard Installation).

Local Origination Channel – A channel on a cable system (exclusive of broadcast signals) which is programmed by the cable operator and subject to his exclusive control.

Local Origination – Cable channel owned and operated by the cable operator and over which the cable operator may exert editorial control. Typically carries programs of local interest and local advertising (compare Access Channels).

Local Signals – Stations falling within the Predicted Grade B Contour (see Grade B Contour and Must Carry).

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Marker Tape – A narrow strip of fabric, paper or plastic laid longitudinally within a cable; it bears printed information such as the specification to which the cable was made and the name of the cable’s manufacturer.

Marker Threads – Colored strings laid parallel and adjacent to the strands of an insulated conductor to reveal information such as the conductor’s manufacturer, the specification to which it was made, or its thermal capability.

MegaHertz (MHz) – One million cycles per second.

Messenger Wire – A metallic supporting member either solid or stranded which may also perform the function of a conductor.

Migration – The loss of plasticizer from a plastic, usually due to heat or aging. It is undesirable since it will make the plastic hard and brittle. It is also called leaching.

Mil – Unit of measure equal to 1/1000 of an inch.

Mining Cable – A flame retardant cable especially constructed to withstand rough handling and exposure to moisture for underground use in the environment of a mine or tunnel, or surface use where exposed to sunlight and extremes of temperature.

Moisture Absorption – The amount of water that an insulation or jacket, which is initially dry, will absorb under specified conditions. It is expressed as the percentage ration of the absorbed water’s weight to the weight of the jacket or insulation alone.

Multiple System Operator (MSO) – A cable operator that owns two or more cable systems, meaning service is provided in two or more distinct geographic areas. Adelphia, AT&T Broadband, Charter, Cox, RCN, and Time Warner all qualify as MSOs.

Multiplexing – More than one signal sent in the same channel without mixture. Division can be by frequency, time or space.

Must Carry – Refers to situation where commercial and noncommercial television broadcast stations are considered local to the area served, and therefore the cable operator is required to provide the channel on the basic service tier in that area (see Local Signals).

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Navigator – Guides the viewer through the operation of the DCT, programming and viewer services. Node for networks, a branching or exchange point.

NEMA Standards – Property values adopted as standard by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.

Neoprene – Trade name for polychloroprene, used for jacketing (See Polychloroprene).

Nitrile Rubber – A rubbery copolymer of butadiene and acrylonitrile. It is usually compounded and vulcanized.

Nominal – Name or identifying value of a measurable property by which a conductor or component or property of a conductor is identified, and to which tolerances are applied. Non-Duplication Rules – Restrictions placed on cable television systems that prohibit the providing of programming from outside the service area if the programming is simultaneously available on a local channel.

Non-Standard Installation – Installation of cable service or a drop line that exceeds the standard installation distance specified in the license. Typically greater than 150 feet from the cable line existing on a public road. The cable operator may charge the subscriber for the costs involved with laying the cable this extra distance. (compare Line Extension).

Nordel – Du Pont trademark for EPDM synthetic rubber.

Near Video On Demand (NVOD) – A video technology allowing a consumer to purchase an event within 15 minutes of its scheduled starting time.

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Obscenity and Indecency – The United States Supreme Court set forth a three-prong test to be used in determining whether individual programming constitutes obscene or indecent speech. More information may be found on a fact sheet at the FCC’s website (

Overbuild – When a competing cable operator builds a cable network system in an area already serviced by a cable operator, this competing cable operator is known as an overbuilder.

Oxygen Bomb Test – A test to determine the ability of conductors and insulations to withstand physical and electrical change when immersed in pure oxygen gas of specified temperature and pressure for a specified time.

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Parental Control – A feature of the DCT that allows lock-out of a selected service.

Parental Lock Capability – Option available on some televisions that allows user to block access to channels (see V-Chip).

Pass-Through Costs – External costs, such as franchise fees and PEG operating costs, that a cable operator may recover from subscribers through rates.

Pay-Per-View (PPV) – Usage-based fee structure in which the user is charged a price for individual programs requested. Programming, typically movies or special events, that a subscriber specifically requests to receive for a single fee added to the monthly cable bill. Some cable operators have the capability of determining whether the pay-per-view program was purchased via telephone or by on-screen interactive remote control and whether the converter channel was then set on the appropriate movie channel in order to receive the programming.

PEG – Public, educational, and governmental channels (see Access Channels).

Plastic – Any solid material employing organic matter of a high molecular weight as a principal constituent, which can be shaped by heat and pressure during manufacturing or processing into a finished article.

Plasticizer – A substance incorporated into a material to increase its workability or flexibility.

Plating – Any thin metallic coating applied over a metallic substratum.

Polling – The method used on a multi-drop communications line operating from a Front End Processor to multiple cluster controllers which keeps more than one from transmitting at the same time.

Polychloroprene – Chemical name for neoprene. A rubber-like compound used for jacketing where wire and cable will be subject to rough usage, moisture, oil, greases, solvents and chemicals.

Polyester – A resin generally used as a thin film in tape form.

Polyethylene – A thermoplastic material composed of polymers of ethylene.

Polymer – A material formed by the chemical combination of monomers having either the same or different chemical composition.

Polypropylene – A thermoplastic polymer of propylene.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) – A thermoplastic material composed of polymers of vinyl chloride, which may be rigid or elastomeric, depending on specific formulation.

Pothead – An insulator used in making a sealed joint between an underground cable and an overhead line.

Potting – Applying a hydrostatic seal and mechanical reinforcement by means of a thermosetting liquid, which cures either at room temperature or at a slightly elevated temperature.

Premium Channels – Channels not included in a cable operator’s regular service tiers. HBO and Showtime are examples of premium channels. In order to obtain premium channels, cable operators are allowed to require that the subscriber purchase the basic service tier, rent or purchase a converter box, and pay additional fees. Rates for premium channels are not regulated.

Primary Service Area – The geographical area within the municipality designated by the providing of programming from outside the service area if the programming is simultaneously available on a local channel.

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Quad – A structural unit employed in cables, consisting of four separately insulated conductors twisted together.

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Rebuild – Process where the cable television system in a municipality is reconstructed as if there were no existing wires or capabilities (compare Upgrade).

Renewal Proposal – Formal application presented by cable operator to municipality setting forth its plan regarding the rights and responsibilities of both parties in providing cable services to the municipality.

Resistance – Property of a conductor that opposed the current flow produced by a given difference of potential. The ohm is the practical unit of resistance. Radio frequency (RF) – an electromagnetic signal above the audio and below the infrared frequencies (frequency spectrum from 15 kHz to 100 GHz).

Request for Proposal (RFP) – Documentation provided to cable operator(s) by municipality seeking to initiate original licensing or renewal process. Outlines what the municipality expects the cable operator(s) to include in the proposed contract and includes questions that require the cable operator’s response.

RJ 11/14 Plug – A telephone outlet plug.

RJ 45 Plug – An Ethernet plug for computer networks.

Rope-lay conductor – Conductor constructed of a bunch-stranded or a concentric-stranded member or members, as a central core, around which are laid one or more helical layers of such members. (See Concentric-lay Conductor.)

Rubber – A material that is capable of recovering from large deformations quickly and forcibly, and can be, or already is, modified to a state in which it is essentially insoluble (but can swell) in boiling solvent.

Rupture – In the breaking strength or tensile strength tests the point at which a material physically comes apart as opposed to yield strength, elongation, etc.

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Scrambler – An electronic device usually located in the head-end. Used to alter a signal so that it can’t be viewed on a normal TV unless another electronic device (a decoderÑDCT) is attached to the subscriber’s set to unscramble the picture.

Screen – (See Shield.)

Secondary Insulation – Any extremely high resistance material which is placed over primary insulation to protect it from abrasion.

Semi-conductor – A solid material characterized by comparatively high resistivities.

Serve – Any helical wrapping applied over a wire or cable core. It may consist of wires, fibers, yarns or tapes.

Served Wire Shield – A barrier to the passage of interference formed by a helical wrapping of wires over a cable core. It is also called spiral shield.

Service Tier – Category of cable channels for which a separate rate is charged by the cable operator.

Set-Top Box – Equipment authorized by and often provided by a cable operator in a subscriber’s home that allows access to or controls interference from cable services (see Black Box, Converter, and Descrambler).

Sheath – The material, usually an extruded plastic or elastomer, applied outermost to a wire or cable. Very often referred to as a jacket, or an impervious metal covering usually lead.

Shield – Any barrier to the passage of interference – causing electrostatic or electromagnetic fields, formed by a conductive layer surrounding a cable core. It is usually fabricated from a metallic braid, foil or wire serving.

Shield Coverage – The amount of cable core surface area which is covered by a shield. It is expressed as a percentage of the cable core’s total surface area. It is also called braid coverage when applied to a braided shield.

Shielding – The practice of confining the electrical field around a conductor to the primary insulation of the cable by putting a conducting layer over and/or under the insulation. (External shielding is a conducting layer on the outside of the insulation. Strand or internal shielding is a conducting layer over the conductor itself).

Signal Bleed or Signal Leakage – Excessive levels of radio frequency (RF) energy that leak from cable television systems. Leaks can cause interference to communications users, including safety service users such as aviation, police, and fire departments. FCC rules specify the maximum RF leakage and require that cable television systems be operated within certain guidelines. Term also refers to video or audio coming through on a scrambled channel.

Skeleton Braid – A braid of widely separated wires or fibers, used to reinforce a jacket, bind a cable core, or prevent the passage of electrostatic or electromagnetic fields.

Small System – A small system is defined by Federal Regulations as “a cable television system that serves 15,000 or fewer subscribers. The service area of a small system shall be determined by the number of subscribers that are served by the system’s principal headend, including any other headends or microwave receive sites that are technically integrated to the principal headend.” 47 C.F.R. ¤ 76.905(c).

Snow – Heavy random noise.

Soft Wire – Wire that has been drawn or rolled to final size and then heated to remove the effects of cold working.

Spark Test – A test designed to locate pin-holes in an insulated wire by application of an electrical potential across the material for a very short period of time while the wire is drawn through an electrode field.

Specific Dielectric Strength – The dielectric strength per millimeter of thickness of an insulating material.

Specific Gravity – The density (mass per unit volume) of any material divided by that of water at a standard temperature.

Specific Inductance Capacitance – That property of a dielectric material which determines how much electrostatic energy can be stored per unit volume when unit voltage is applied.

Specific Resistance – The resistance of a unit conductor having a length of one foot and across-sectional area of one circular mil.

Spiral Wrap – A term given to describe the helical wrap of a tape or thread over a core.

Splice – A joint used for connecting two lengths of conductor or cable with good mechanical strength as well as good conductivity.

Stabilizer – Any ingredient added to plastics to preserve their physical and chemical properties.

Static – Electrical discharges in the atmosphere such as lightning, corona, etc. Store and forward – A technique used to purchase services wherein the purchase data is stored in the subscriber’s terminal (DCT) and retrieved later by a polling device. The retrieved information is forwarded to a data collector which is interfaced (linked) to a billing service for bill generation. Used for PPV programming.

Strand – One of the wires of any stranded conductor.

Strand Lay – The distance of advance of one strand of a spirally stranded conductor, in one turn, measured axially.

Stranded Conductor – A conductor composed of a group of wires, usually twisted, or of any combination of such groups of wires.

Stress Cone – A conical section built up of insulating tapes or a pennant to relieve the stress at the terminal end of the cable.

Subscriber – A customer who pays a fee for cable television service.

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Tank Test – A voltage dielectric test where the specimen to be tested is submerged in a liquid (usually water) and a voltage potential applied between the conductor and the liquid as ground.

Tap – A device installed in the feeder cable which connects the home TV set to the cable network (also called a Drop).

Tape Wrap – A term denoting a spirally or longitudinally applied tape material wrapped around the wire, either insulated or uninsulated, used as an insulation or mechanical barrier.

Tear Strength – The force required to initiate or continue a rip in a jacket or other insulation under specified conditions.

Temperature Rating – The maximum temperature at which a given insulation or jacket may be safely maintained during continuous use, without incurring any thermally-induced deterioration.

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Tensile Strength – The longitudinal stress required to break a specimen of prescribed dimension divided by the original cross-sectional area at the point of rupture (usually expressed in pounds per square inch).

Termination – 1) The load connected to the output end of a transmission line. 2) The provisions for ending a transmission line and connecting to a bus bar or other terminating device.

Thermal Conductivity – Ability of material to conduct heat.

Thermal Endurance – The time in hours at a selected temperature for an insulating material or system of material or system of materials to deteriorate to some predetermined level of electrical, mechanical, or chemical performance under prescribed conditions of test.

Thermal Expansion (Coefficient of) – The fractional change in length (sometimes volume) of a material for a unit change in temperature.

Thermal Rating – The maximum and/or minimum temperature at which a material will perform its function without undue degradation.

Thermoplastic – A classification of resin that can be readily softened and reformed by heating and be rehardened by cooling.

Thermoset – 1) To cure through chemical reaction by heat to a point of not being resoftened by subsequent heating. 2) A resin which cures by chemical reaction.

Tinned Wire – Copper wire that has been coated during manufacture with a layer of tin or solder to prevent corrosion or facilitate soldering.

Tolerance – A specified allowance for error from a standard or given dimension, weight or property.

TPR – A trade name of Uniroyal Inc. for their thermoplastic rubber.

Transponder – A combination receiver and transmitter on a satellite that relays signals transmitted to it back to earth on a different frequency. For cable TV customers this means the numbers of channels available, which is directly related to the number of programming options. For example, 3-transponder (or 3-pack) system has the space to accommodate 36 digital channels.

Trap – A passive device used to black a channel(s) from being received by a subscriber (negative trap), or used to remove an interfering carrier from a channel that a subscriber wants to receive (positive trap).

Triad – Any grouping of three conductors or three assemblages of conductors, generally twisted together and found within a cable.

Triplex – Three single conductors twisted together, usually three single conductor cables twisted without over-all covering. Do not use for three conductors laid parallel on a reel.

Tuner – A device, circuit, or portion of a circuit that is used to select one signal from a number of signals in a given frequency range.

TV Guide Interactive – A program of convenient options offered in menu format on the TV screen. Some of the options include: Reminders, Parental Control and Favorite Channels.

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Ultra Violet Degradation – The degradation caused by long time exposure of a material to sunlight or other ultraviolet rays containing radiation.

Unidirectional conductor – Conductor constructed with a central core surrounded by more than one layer of helically laid wire, all layers having a common direction of lay, with increase in length of lay for each successive layer. (See Concentriclay Conductor.) Unilay conductor – conductor constructed with a central core surrounded by more than one layer of helically laid wires, all layers having a common length and direction of lay. (See Concentric-lay Conductor.)

Universal Remote Control – A remote control that controls the functionality of a TV, converter or DCT, VCR and/or other related equipment.

Upgrade – Process where cable television system is modified through the addition of electronic components capable of providing enhanced services. Upgrade typically occurs on a municipality basis (compare Rebuild).

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V-Chip – System that is built into television sets and allows users to screen out, based on television ratings, programs they do not want household members to watch. Those subscribers with older television sets may need to purchase a set-top box that utilizes V-Chip technology in order to access this feature (see Parental Lock Capability).

Videocassette recorder (VCR) – an electronic device capable of playing or recording video tape in cassette format.

Video Home System (VHS) – a popular videocassette format developed for home use.

Video On Demand – Programming that offers movies and events to be viewed immediately after selection.

Volt – Unit of electromotive force. It is the difference of potential required to make a current of one ampere flow through resistance of one ohm.

Voltage Drop – The voltage developed between the terminals of a circuit component by the flow of current through the resistance or impedance of that part.

Voltage Rating – The maximum voltage at which a given cable or insulated conductor may be safely maintained during continuous use in a normal manner. It is also called working voltage.

Vulcanization – An irreversible process during which a rubber compound through a change in its chemical structure (for example, cross-linking), becomes less plastic and more resistant to swelling by organic liquids and elastic properties are conferred, improved, or extended over a greater range of temperature.

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Water Absorption – The ratio of the weight of water absorbed by a given material under specified conditions, to the weight of that material when dry. It is generally expressed as a percentage.

Wicking – The longitudinal flow of a liquid in a wire or cable construction due to capillary action.

Wire Gage – Any of several standard systems for designating wire sizes. As an example, see American Wire Gage.

Work Hardening – The increased stiffness and brittleness accompanying plastic deformation of metal.

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Yield Strength – The lowest stress at which a material undergoes plastic deformation. Below this stress, the material is elastic; above it, viscous.

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