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When I was in United States, one thing always puzzled me.

When we took comcast internet connection, comcast guys came over to our place, setup router etc, but they never had to lay any cables.

This made to think that unlike in India, in US houses are perhaps "planned" in the sense that telephone wires go underground or inside wall etc, basically invisible and comcast people just connect the routers with these ports on wall.

But this arose some more questions. who ownes these underneath running telephone wires? are they owned by government telephone companies and what if I took internet thru telephone by 2 different companies say comcast and verizon, how would it work? How will both companies use the same telephonic wires? In such case, do they lay separate cables?

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closed as off topic by ChrisF, Sathya Jul 11 '11 at 8:49

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I like this question because it shows how easily people can increasingly make assumptions about ubiquitous technologies like the internet as vendors increasingly make it seem more like an appliance. The answers so far seem to be quite helpful in clearing up these misunderstandings, which I think could actually be interesting to many people who are curious about how these things work. –  Randolf Richardson Jul 11 '11 at 9:19

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Telephone and cable lines go from the local office to a place in the building called the demarcation point. All that belongs to the company. From the demarcation point to the various outlets in the building is the problem of the property owner. Both cable Internet and DSL use the lines from the building to the local office.

Comcast uses the coaxial cable that your television service comes through, not the copper loop used by telephone service.

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so comcast has a tie-up with the building people who let comcast bring their cables till demarcation point? if tomorrow some other ISP want to be able to provide internet to end consumers, how will it work? they will bring their own cables till demarcation point? would separate lines for comcast and new ISP run from demarcation point to building outlets? but this is not possible, because these wires i think go under wall, so new cables can't be laid under wall - that would require reconstruction.. Correct me if the question itself is wrong. –  p2pnode Jul 11 '11 at 9:46
    
Here in Germany the Deutsche Telekom (Deutsche Bundespost before that) owns the cables. They were owned by the state before. Other ISPs have to rent the cables though. This is completely different in the USA though... Where I lived for a while, they threw a completely new cable into the ground when we ordered a new internet provider ;D –  sinni800 Jul 11 '11 at 10:31

Generally, most broadband up to now has been able to use the copper wires that were laid by the phone company - and probably still owned by your phone company, but this can vary state to stae. The bits you don't see are are how the connections at the other end of that wire are set up.

There is enough bandwidth on these wires over short distances that you can share multiple services over them, but your bandwidth decreases the furtehr from your exchange you are.

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