Bringing entertainment and information into a home via a cable TV hookup is nothing new. About 5,000 operating cable TV systems in the United States now offer such a service, thus linking about one-third of all homes with a cable system.
Something that is new, however, is using a cable TV link with the outside world to provide a home with a strong security system.
This is the most recent development in cable operations as they become more complex, and new technologies expand their range of services to homeowners.
Cable TV and a home-security system now can be packaged together, providing a comprehensive information-security service for the home. This year, a jailed home burglar might be overheard to say: ''I had no problem with the watchdog, locked doors, or the neighborhood lookout program, but I was caught by the folks' cable TV system.''
The new system basically evolved from the development of two-way communications via cable TV lines. This makes it possible to plug an effective home-security system into cable communications lines.
Several cable companies are in the process of developing or offering a security system.
One major company, for example, now offers a three-way home protection service. The system protects the home from intruders and danger of fire, and provides immediate communications in case of an emergency.
A computer, operating over the TV cables, scans the home's various security sensory devices every six to 12 seconds. If an alarm has been triggered, the computer alerts a dispatcher in a monitoring system. A dispatcher is on duty at all times.
The dispatcher, after confirming and identifying the nature of the alarm, contacts the police, fire department, or other appropriate agency. The system was developed by American Cable Security, a division of the American Television & Communication Corporation, the nation's largest cable communication supplier.
The firm custom-designs each system installed in customers' homes. The average installation cost is $600, plus $15 to $19 a month for the 24-hour monitoring service.
Individual homeowners are generally responding positively to the new technology and opportunity to enhance the security of their home, according to company executives. Home builders, who are finding it to be a good selling feature, are beginning to incorporate the system into new homes.
Insurance companies are also recognizing the value of such a system. Some companies are reducing homeowner premium costs by 10 to 35 percent for homes with an installed system.
It now appears that the new era of cable-TV services will include security for the American home along with electronic magazine service, viewing and ordering of needed merchandise, and who knows what else, just around the corner.