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Cable television (CATV) networks are in transition to digital two-way broadband networks. The industry has already developed devices according to the Data Over Cable Service Interface Specifications (DOCSIS) or digital video broadcasting (DVB) standards for cable. Both standards are incompatible. This digest introduces a new concept for headends in CATV networks. The goal of the software headend architecture is to handle multiple standards on the same hardware platform. Architectures with flexible signal processing elements are presented and classified. Advantages of this new concept are an easy exchange of standards by setting the appropriate configuration without changing hardware and the possibility to install software headends and software terminals in any cable environment.