When cable television was given the go-ahead more than 20 years ago, 100 operators popped up across the country.
Roads were dug up as small independent companies laid the foundations for a revolution in the telecoms industry.
Now, two decades after Swindon Cable became the first cable TV operator to be licensed, only NTL and Telewest remain along with WightCable, which serves the Isle of Wight and parts of Ayrshire, Carlisle and Lancashire, and Kingston Communications in Hull.
Yesterday, the cable giants announced plans to merge in a deal creating the UK's second largest communications company.
Cable TV, which was already well established in the United States, was introduced in the early 1980s and by 1991 the Cable Authority had issued licences for 124 cable franchises.
The first to come into operation was Aberdeen Cable, later known as Atlantic.
The Broadcasting Act 1990 established a new regulatory authority, the Independent Television Commission (ITC), and in 1991 cable companies were granted the right to introduce telephone services alongside television.
This would prove crucial in the battle against the satellite operator BSkyB and inward investment into the UK cable industry came from US telephone companies.
The development of broadband took cable further forward in the mid-1990s, and by the end of 1998, 163 licences had been awarded.
It was in this period that consolidation started to take place, and the first major acquisition came when the American firm International CableTel purchased Insight Communications along with franchise holders in South Wales and other regions.
Slowly but surely, other small cable operators were swallowed up by the larger players, with Cable-Tel, Cable & Wireless and Telewest, which had started out as Croydon Cable in 1984, at the heart of the activity.
In 1996, CableTel bought National Transcommunications and changed its name to NTL.
By the late 1990s, Telewest, NTL and Cable & Wireless dominated the UK cable industry.
But the general consensus was that there was only room for two big operators to rival Sky, and in 1999 NTL bought Cable & Wireless' interests in a momentous year for the industry.
The crash in the value of technology, media and telecoms stocks in 2000 had a serious impact as NTL and Telewest had invested heavily in stateofthe-art fibre optic networks capable of delivering TV, telephone and high speed internet access services.
Both companies were plunged heavily into debt and only recently emerged from bankruptcy protection following some painful restructuring.
Many analysts believed it was only a matter of time before NTL and Telewest joined forces.