Image Number 3 for United States Patent #5418782.
Methods and apparatus are disclosed for providing virtual service selection in a multi-service communications system wherein the service components of each of a number of basic services are transmitted to subscriber locations on one of a plurality different frequency channels. Each frequency channel may carry the service components of more than one basic service. A virtual service definition is generated for each basic service that specifies which of the service components carried on a particular frequency channel comprise that service. The virtual service definition for each basic service is periodically, and frequently, transmitted to each subscriber location on the frequency channel carrying the service components that comprise that basic service. When a subscriber selects a given basic service for output at the subscriber location, a decoder at the subscriber location tunes to the frequency channel carrying the service components of the selected basic service, extracts a virtual service definition for the selected basic service from the tuned frequency channel, and then obtains from the frequency channel the service components specified in the extracted virtual service definition as comprising the selected basic service.