Broadcast television and cable television service providers transmit signals via satellite, cable network, or over the open airwaves. Satellite television providers send signals from a terrestrial base station to an orbiting satellite. The signals are then transmitted back to Earth and received by individual satellite dishes for decoding. Cable television or community antenna television (CATV) providers transmit radio frequency (RF) signals to subscribers through fiber optic or coaxial cables. Over-the-air (OTA), terrestrial, or broadcast television also transmits radio waves, but in an unencrypted format that requires neither a satellite dish nor a cable subscription. Although OTA programming is still popular in much of the world, broadcast and cable television service providers in North America and Europe are increasingly focused on newer technologies such as high definition television (HDTV).
There are many different types of broadcast television and cable television service providers. Broadcasters offer news, media, datacasting and e-commerce services for events such as business conferences and annual shareholder meetings. Cable television companies provide a variety of programming options, typically in the form of channel-based packages. Many cable TV companies are also Internet service providers (ISP) which enable businesses to connect to the World Wide Web. Large-scale ISPs offer private line hookups such as ATM, T1, T3, and fractional T1. Telephone companies are local exchange carriers (LEC) that provide residential phone service and voice, data, and Internet communications. Telecommunications companies are larger broadcast and cable television service providers that offer products such as digital video recorders (DVR) and services such as satellite radio. Telephone cooperatives are small, independent carriers that provide telecommunications services in rural areas.
Broadcast television and cable television service providers must conform to national regulations and international standards. In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable. In Europe, broadcast and cable television service providers are regulated by both national organizations and the European Union (EU).