Cable television (CATV) is a system of distributing television programs to subscribers via radio frequency (RF) signals transmitted through coaxial cables or light pulses through fiber-optic cables. This contrasts with traditional broadcast television (terrestrial television) in which the television signal is transmitted over the air by radio waves and received by a television antenna attached to the television. FM radio programming, high-speed Internet, telephone service, and similar non-television services may also be provided through these cables.
The abbreviation CATV is often used for cable television. It originally stood for Community Access Television or Community Antenna Television, from cable television's origins in 1948: in areas where over-the-air reception was limited by distance from transmitters or mountainous terrain, large "community antennas" were constructed, and cable was run from them to individual homes. The origins of cable broadcasting are even older as radio programming was distributed by cable in some European cities as far back as 1924.