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The History of cable TV in the uk
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Old 22-01-2004, 21:38   #1
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The History of cable TV in the uk

I thought this was interesting.
Quote:
History of cable TV in the UK
Cable TV in the UK has its origins as far back as 1938, when towns such as Bristol used wires to carry television signals to homes that couldn't receive transmissions over the air. It wasn't until the '60s, however, that a more useful version of the system came along, courtesy of Rediffusion Vision, that relayed four channels of 625-line signals from the BBC and ITA stations.

In the early eighties the government signaled (no pun intended) its intent to give cable TV - by this time already well established in the United States - the go-ahead, mainly to assist in the push to introduce competition in the telecoms market that would come in the early nineties. More on that later.

Rediffusion Vision renamed itself Rediffusion Cablevision in the early eighties, and began supplementing its CATV (Community Antenna TeleVision - e.g. the re-broadcasting of over-the-air signals down cables) service with other channels such as the Music Box, Screensport, Sky Channel, and TEN. (More details about Rediffusion can be found on Edwin J Hearn's dedicated website.)

1984 and 1985 were key years in the development of next-generation cable services. In 1984, Swindon Cable was the first operator to be licenced under a new regime that would see cable franchises be scattered around the UK. 1985 saw the establishment of the Cable Authority, which started to advertise more licences around the country; the first to go operational was Aberdeen Cable, later known as Atlantic.

In 1991, the cable companies were granted the right to offer telephony alongside their TV services - this would prove crucial in the battle against the satellite operator BSkyB, created as a result of a merger between BSB and Sky television.

It was the development of "broadband" cable, capable of supporting a 750MHz+ bandwidth and served by a fibre-optic backbone that took cable TV forward in the mid-nineties. By then, consolidation was the key, with the first major acquisition being the American company International CableTel purchasing Insight Communications along with franchise-holders in South Wales and other regions. 1994 was a big build year for the industry, as it sought to cover as many homes as possible in order to rival satellite provider Sky.

Slowly but surely, the small cable operators that had been licenced by the old Cable Authority - by now incorporated into the ITC - were swallowed up by the larger players, such as International CableTel, Cable & Wireless and Telewest Communications. In 1996, CableTel bought National Transcommunications Ltd - NTL - and decided to use that name for all its operations. The old names didn't disappear overnight however, living on in a hybrid arrangement - NTL CableTel, NTL Comcast and NTL Diamond Cable being examples. Meanwhile, Telewest was busily extending its coverage, purchasing franchises in Birmingham and Yorkshire among others.

1999 was truly a monumental year, with ntl (as it was now known), buying Cable and Wireless' UK cable operations - which now contained digital TV capability in some franchises. There had been much speculation that either ntl or Telewest - by now the big players in the cable industry after most of the consolidation had been done. The general consensus was that there was room only for two big operators to rival Sky - and that it wouldn't be long before ntl and Telewest leapt into bed. That has yet to happen.

November of that year also saw Telewest launch its "Active Digital" service. Also in 1999, Telewest gained full control of Cable London after ntl sold its 50% stake in that operator. It wasn't until May of 2000 that ntl started rolling out "digitalplus" in some of its franchises, and all cable operators took a substantial length of time to upgrade the old legacy cable systems to support digital service. Even today, some franchises aren't yet capable of providing digital service.

The development of interactive cable TV, utilising the return path of the new broadband systems, is still ongoing. ntl and Telewest both provided access to a "walled garden" of adapted-for-TV websites after launching their digital services, although again rolling this out across their myriad of franchises - bearing in mind that the corporate consolidation took place much faster than did the actual network consolidation - proved to be a "long haul" task. It is only recently that "enhanced" interactivity synchronised with a live TV programme has come online, with Telewest being the first to roll this out to their customers. ntl followed afterwards, and is still rolling this capability out network-wide.
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Old 22-01-2004, 21:48   #2
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Re: The History of cable TV in the uk

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ramrod
I thought this was interesting.
To whom?


Incog.
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Old 22-01-2004, 21:53   #3
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Re: The History of cable TV in the uk

Blokes, obviously
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Old 22-01-2004, 22:03   #4
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Re: The History of cable TV in the uk

I enjoyed it matey!!!
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Old 26-01-2004, 16:04   #5
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Re: The History of cable TV in the uk

Quote:
Originally Posted by Incognitas
To whom?

Why comment on it if it has no interest to you? Why even look at the topic?
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Old 26-01-2004, 16:39   #6
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Re: The History of cable TV in the uk

This should move to the ntil.info site IMHO. I've seen it before, either on someones web site or .com. Thinking about it, it must have been a web site as there were pictures of the old Bristol Cables.
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Old 26-01-2004, 19:37   #7
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Re: The History of cable TV in the uk

Quote:
Originally Posted by asdf
Why comment on it if it has no interest to you? Why even look at the topic?

So why comment on why did I comment?
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Old 26-01-2004, 19:46   #8
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Re: The History of cable TV in the uk

Well i thought it was interesting also, nice find.
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Old 26-01-2004, 19:54   #9
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Re: The History of cable TV in the uk

Quote:
Originally Posted by SMHarman
This should move to the ntil.info site IMHO. I've seen it before, either on someones web site or .com.
It's on Digital spy. I linked to it.
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Old 26-01-2004, 20:18   #10
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Re: The History of cable TV in the uk

I found it very interesting and will have a good look at that site.

Rediffusion were called British Cable TV by the time that I joined them back in 1987 they had a few name changes and were part of the BET group of companies. They were bought by Robert Maxwell around that time who asset stripped the company, I am not sure of the full details but he paid say £1M for the entire company and sold one of the buildings for around £750K shortly after. Maxwell sold parts of the company ie: Guildford and Cardiff to Insight communications. When Maxwell died there was a management takeover and the company changed name from Maxwell Cable to Metro Cable, the directors paid less than £1M for the company from the administrators and sold half of the company around 3 years later to CableTel who then bought ntl and used the ntl name.

To put th ntl history into context, the broadcast side used to be the "Home Office" before it was privatised by Maggie, and the Residential cable side was owned by the parent company Ocom communications in the states, they formed Insight communications over here and later changed the name to CableTel, when CableTel bought NTL they used the name but changed it soon after to ntl.

I was told that the first Cable TV system was in the Rhondda valley!

I have also worked on the old system in Bristol, mainly at the headend they had with the pair of 3.7M dishes when they were running programs like Music Box, the original Sky channel and movies on tapes a few years before Astra 1 was put into orbit.

The old Rediffusion company also had an interactive system back in the 80's and an 860MHz broadband system in the Rhondda in the very early 90's, some of the shestring stuff we did was way ahead of ntl including the VOIP telephone trials we were doing. It's a pity things didn't work out differently because being bought by the Americans ie: ntl/CableTel actually stopped a lot of development in this country and put us back many years.
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Old 26-01-2004, 20:47   #11
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Re: The History of cable TV in the uk

The ntl company which CableTel bought was born out of the privatisation of the IBA. The old IBA became the independent ITV companies, the Radio Authority and ntl. ntl were the engineering side of the IBA. ntl also bought up the home office radcoms when they were sold off.
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Old 26-01-2004, 21:33   #12
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Re: The History of cable TV in the uk

Quote:
Originally Posted by Proppinupthebar
The ntl company which CableTel bought was born out of the privatisation of the IBA. The old IBA became the independent ITV companies, the Radio Authority and ntl. ntl were the engineering side of the IBA. ntl also bought up the home office radcoms when they were sold off.
Sorry, I didn't explain that very well.

I also had involvement with work for the Home office just before and about the time they became NTL, I should of also mentioned about Crawley Court, NTL was a very professional organisation back in those days it's no wonder many of the people from the Broadcast division I met when at ntl would look own their noses as all the people from the cable side. Many of them resented being bought out by a bunch of cowboys.

I also worked for Rediffusion Radio systems also known as Redifon, I dont suppose many know of the varied involvements that Rediffusion had with technology in those days. Redif Flight Simulators, Redif Computers, Redif Audio systems and Rediffusion Radio supplying and servicing two-way radio equipment for marine use. I worked on VHF and HF radio equip for navy ships and they also built some very early Satellite Navigation equipment that I worked on, it was getting fairly old by the time I was involved in it.

Rediffusion was a company with fingers in every pie, as well as cable TV they had the TV rental business that they sold to Granada. They made the classic mistake of letting the financial people take control of the company, one day they looked around and realised they were sitting on a lot of old technology because they were not investing in the future. The network just fell to pieces as they cut all maintenance and engineers to concentrate on maximising return from as little expenditure as possible, it worked for a few years and then bit them on the bum!
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Old 10-02-2004, 23:04   #13
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Re: The History of cable TV in the uk

Is there any news about History of Cable in UK and about ntl, Telewest etc. ??
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Old 10-02-2004, 23:32   #14
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Re: The History of cable TV in the uk

Two weeks old. Anything in particular you want to know? Nothing really has changed in the last two weeks.
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Old 26-10-2005, 13:03   #15
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Re: The History of cable TV in the uk

Here is the list of Cable operators as it was in the 1990's.

Aberdeen Cable Aberdeen (No Longer exists)
Andover Cablevision Andover
Anglia Cable Harlow (Telewest)
Birmingham Cable Birmingham (Telewest)
Cable Corporation Windsor (Telewest)
Cable London North London (Telewest)
Cable Midlands Wolverhampton (NTL)
Cable North West Liverpool (NTL)
CableTel Surrey and Hants, West Central Scotland,
South Wales, Beds and Herts, Kirklees,
& Nothern Ireland. (NTL)

Cablevision Bedfordshire: South Bedfordshire (NTL)
Cambridge Cable: Cambridge (NTL)
Coventry Cable: Coventry& Midlands (NTL)
Diamond Cable: Midlands&Nottingham (NTL)
Metro Cable: Welwyn Garden city (NTL)
Norwich Cablevision: Norwich,Norfolk (NTL)
Encom: Tower Hamlets (NTL)
Bell Cable Media: Watford,Herts (NTL)
LCC Cable: Leicester (NTL)
NYNEX CableVision: Bromley,Derby,Solent,Sussex.(NTL)
NYNEX CableVision: Blackburn,Darwen & Bolton.(NTL)
Peterborough Cablevision: Peterborough (NTL)
Swindon Cable: Swindon,Wiltshire (Telewest)
Telecential: Hemel Hempstead,Northants. (NTL)
Telecential: Reading and Bracknell (Telewest???)
United Artists: Avon,Croydon,Cotswolds,Dundee (Telewest)
United Artists: Edinburgh,London South,Glenrothes (Telewest)
United Artists: South East,North East,Motherwell (Telewest)
United Artists: Newcastle,perth (Telewest)
BT Cable: Westminster and Milton Keynes. (NTL)
Videotron: Southampton (NTL)
Videotron: Middlesex, south London (NTL)
NYNEX: Middlesex (NTL)
Yorkshire Cable: Bradford,Leeds (Telewest)
North Downs Cablevision: Crawley,Sussex (Telewest Eurobell)
Devon Cablevision: Devon&Somerset(Telewest Eurobell)
East Kent Cablevision: Eastern kent(Telewest Eurobell)



Cable companies after 1995:

OMNE-UK: North West England and parts of Scotland.(Now WightCable North)

Wight Cable: Covers Isle of wight and former OMNE areas.

Kingston Comms: Telecoms provider for Kingston upon hull now operates Cable Services.

Atlantic Cable: Formerly Aberdeen Cable, Atlantic telecom assets was sold to Opal Telecom except Atlantic Cable, Atlantic Cable went into liquidation together with Atlantic Telecom possibly in 1997.

Company name changes:

United Artists: changed to Telewest Communications
Westminster Cable: Changed to BT Cable
Cable Tel: changed to NTL
Aberdeen Cable: Atlantic Cable
Devon Cablevision: Eurobell South west.
East kent Cablevision: Eurobell South East
North downs Cablevision: Eurobell South east.
NYNEX,Videotron,BellCable media,Mercury all merged creating CWC.
Cablevision Bedfordshire: Cable Tel.


Other Telecom company name changes:

Mercury Communications: Cable and Wireless Communications. (1997)
Cellnet: BT Cellnet (1999)
IPM: Infolines Public Networks (2000)
New World payphones: NWP Spectrum (2002)
BT Internet: BT openworld (2000)
BT paging,Cellnet,Genie: O2 (2002)
One2One: T-Mobile (2002)
Dolphin Telecom: Inquam
NTL Broadcast: Arquiva (2005)
Vizzavi: Vodafone Live! (2003)
Mercury paging: Page One
Infolines Public Networks/Central payphones: 4 Kiosk Solutions (2005)
Guernsey Telecoms: Cable and Wireless Guernsey(2001)
Infolines premier: Premier Tele-solutions (2001)
MCI: MCI-Worldcom (1998)
Value Telecom: Fresh Mobile (2002)







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