Although the era of high definition television (HDTV) may not yet be quite upon us, there can be little doubt that new CATV system designs and upgrades must increasingly strive to provide improved signal quality to subscribers to enhance the competitive stance of the CATV system. This paper addresses some of the quality criteria that will most likely be required of future CATV systems. As in the past, local distribution service (LDS) microwave can play an important role in achieving this improved system performance. One obvious technique is to reduce the length of trunk amplifier cascades by increasing the number of receiving hubs. However, the improved quality imposes more stringent requirements on the microwave link. It is shown that recent improvements in microwave systems and technology can accommodate these requirements. Specific examples are provided that illustrate how microwave system elements can be configured to meet the needs of CATV systems that will carry the HDTV signals.