TL; DR: The Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) is an international standards organization that provides specifications for networking over coaxial cable. By promoting MoCA-enabled network and broadband access, the alliance aims to improve performance, reliability, and security while leveraging existing infrastructure. MoCA is providing the backbone for the future of networking by continuously developing new technologies.
Between digital assistants, video streaming, online gaming, and a device in every hand, our families and homes are becoming more technologically dependent than ever. And with each new innovation comes an increasing burden on the networks supporting them.
While Wi-Fi® is currently the go-to for home network connectivity, it isn’t the only option. According to the Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA), coaxial-to-Ethernet adapters provide an opportunity to leverage existing coaxial infrastructure to improve network connectivity, often to a greater extent than many costly mesh Wi-Fi® systems. Best of all, the technology can be used to enhance and extend networks, rather than relying on Wi-Fi® alone.
“You can use Wi-Fi® and MoCA technology together: It’s not an either-or proposition,” said Rob Gelphman, VP of Marketing and Member Relations at MoCA. “You have existing coaxial wiring, you connect the signal to your set-top box, gateway, or modem, distribute it to every room in the house over the coax, and then offload it to the Wi-Fi®.”
As an international standards consortium, MoCA provides a solid backbone for the innovative coaxial networking technology, but it doesn’t sell adaptors or networking products directly. Only MoCA’s associate members, including TiVo, DIRECTV, and Nokia, have access to the specifications for the development of certified products.
MoCA’s main objective is to help improve performance, reliability, and security by providing up-to-date international standards for networking over coaxial cable. By continually developing new MoCA technologies, the alliance hopes to push networking forward so it can comfortably support our modern conveniences.
A Standards Consortium Improving Performance and Reliability
MoCA was established in January 2004 as an open industry standards organization. Since approving MoCA 1.0 in 2006, the group has released four versions of its signature MoCA Home Networking specification: MoCA 1.1, MoCA 2.0, MoCA 2.5, and MoCA 3.0.
At its core, MoCA technology is a Layer 2 Transport Protocol (L2TP) that guarantees delivery of packets to their destination by distributing content over existing coaxial TV cabling in the home. Typical use cases include multiroom DVR, HDTV, and Ultra High Definition (UHD) distribution, gaming, and live streaming — all without associated downtime.
“We’re the FedEx of packet delivery, when it absolutely, positively has to get there on time — that’s MoCA,” he said. “But we complement what we call the backhaul, or the wire, supporting Wi-Fi®.”
For consumers and operators, this means a well-functioning network that eliminates the need for constant repairs and upgrades. “The thing about coax that appeals to operators and the end user is, if you want to upgrade to higher performance — if you want to go from MoCA 1.0 to MoCA 2.0 or MoCA 2.5, you don’t have to swap out the wire,” Rob said. “You just buy a new device with a chip that has the new spec.”
This underscores one of the main arguments against the use of Ethernet — every time you want to upgrade performance, you have to swap out the wire, adding to the overall cost of network management. And with MoCA, existing coaxial cabling is sufficient regardless of the type or age of the wiring.
MoCA Home™ — A Secure Backbone for Wi-Fi® Networking
The bulk of the certified products currently on the market were designed for the MoCA Home 2.0 standard, which offers data rates of up to 1 Gbps in net throughput. When introduced to the market in 2016, the standard brought forth two new power-saving modes (Standby for reduced power, and Sleep for minimum power) plus expanded operating frequency and reliability improvements.
The MoCA Home 2.5 standard, introduced in 2017, is capable of supporting up to 2.5 Gbps of speed over coaxial cables and is backward interoperable with MoCA 2.0 and MoCA 1.1. “Companies are currently building chips and devices for MoCA 2.5, which operators will start phasing in over the next couple of years,” Rob said.
Networking over coaxial cable is inherently more secure than wireless. “It’s shielded, immune from interference,” Rob said. “You can be running all kinds of household appliances, for instance, and there’s never any interference.”
In April, MoCA unveiled MoCASec, a powerful security layer for MoCA links that boosts network configurations where peer-to-peer privacy is required. The new technology provides point-to-point link privacy specifically designed to ease the integration of MoCA technology into home networks supporting the Wi-Fi Alliance’s EasyMesh standard.
“It is not enough to just provide huge amounts of bandwidth anymore. Network operators must address the entire user experience, including expanded security and privacy,” Charles Cerino, MoCA President, said in a press release. “MoCASec ensures the secure and private transport of data over the in-home coaxial cabling further enhancing the home networking experience.”
Fiber-Extension Technology for Broadband Access
While MoCA often markets its services toward residential users, Rob said the technology also appeals to businesses in buildings wired with coaxial cables.
“People with coax in their office spaces use our technology; people use it on cruise ships, they use it in hotels, hospitals, restaurants — there are all kinds of applications worldwide,” he said. “Say you’re a big hotel with 100 rooms on the Las Vegas Strip, for instance. Everyone has a wireless device, so you can’t depend only on Wi-Fi®: You have to use hardwired infrastructure.”
In 2017, the alliance introduced MoCA Access, a fiber-extension technology that leverages the established benefits of networking over existing coaxial wiring, including performance, low latency, security, and reliability.
The broadband access standard, based on MoCA 2.5, can serve 63 modems and is designed for seamless integration with legacy services, telecommunications standards, and cellular technologies. Throughput is 2.5 Gbps downstream and 2 Gbps upstream, and latency is less than five minutes.
The technology is also recommended for service providers that are installing fiber deep into a network or building and wish to use existing coaxial cables to connect to each unit in an apartment. If you consider the networking demands of an average family and multiply that by 20, it’s easy to see why technology like MoCA is needed to ease the burden.
“Nothing can keep up with MoCA in terms of performance,” he said.