Cable television has become more than a glimmer in the eyes of District officials. District Cablevision, the city's cable operator, is providing service to thousands of Southeast and Northeast residents and recently began installing hookups to homes in some Northwest neighborhoods.

"We're moving along very briskly in Northwest," said Richard Maulsby, executive director of the D.C. Office of Cable Television, which monitors the city's franchise agreement with Cablevision.

The D.C. cable system is scheduled to be completed by the end of 1989, more than a year earlier than previously expected. About 9,000 District households have subscribed to the service, Cablevision officials said. They predict the system will draw 80,000 to 100,000 subscribers when completed.

Cablevision has finished wiring homes in wards 7 and 8 east of the Anacostia River. Recently, crews began installations on upper 16th Street NW around Walter Reed Army Medical Center. "Essentially, the system will grow like a tree from there," Maulsby said.

For a monthly fee of about $30, subscribers receive 42 channels, and entertainment programming such as Showtime and Home Box Office is available.

Maulsby said work started in Southeast because it was easiest there for Cablevision to find a location for one of its two satellite reception stations. The first station was built at Shannon Place and U Street SE in Anacostia. Recently, satellite dishes were erected at Florida Avenue and 14th Street NW.

Maulsby, whose office runs the system's government channel, said broadcasts of D.C. Council meetings have attracted viewers. "It's very clear that people do watch it," Maulsby said, citing recent hearings on the city's residency requirement for District employes. "We were deluged with phone calls."