A cable head-end (or headend) is the facility at a local cable TV office that originates and communicates cable TV services and cable modem services to subscribers. In distributing cable television services, the head-end includes a satellite dish antenna for receiving incoming programming. This programming is then passed on to the subscriber. (Cable TV companies may also play videotapes and originate live programming.) Normally, all signals are those that are sent downstream to the subscriber, but some are received upstream such as when a customer requests a pay-per-view program.
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When a cable company provides Internet access to subscribers, the head-end includes the computer system and databases needed to provide Internet access. The most important component located at the head-end is the cable modem termination system (CMTS), which sends and receives digital cable modem signals on a cable network and is necessary for providing Internet services to cable subscribers.