MoCA Networking Is A Niche Solution For Coax Lovers

When it comes to networking these days, the vast majority of our devices are connected wirelessly. Beyond that, we’re all familiar with the Cat 5 and Cat 6 cables that form the high-capacity Ethernet networks in our homes, schools, and offices.

It’s only if you go back to the very dawn of Ethernet that coaxial cables are relevant… right? Wrong! MoCA networking is all about coaxial cables, designed to hook up devices over cable TV infrastructure!

Run What You Brung

MoCA hardware can be used to create networks on traditional cable TV infrastructure, such as that often laid in apartment buildings and hotels. Credit: Quique251, CC-BY-SA-3.0

America is the holy land of cable TV. Just 6.4% of Americans had cable TV by 1968, but that figure reached a full 62.4% by 1994. In those hallowed days, cable television was delivered as analog signals sent via coaxial cable runs.

These cables worked their way around the neighbourhoods of the nation, often being split or tapped to deliver cable TV services to yet more subscribers. Apartments and hotels would often have a distribution box with cable “drops” heading to each individual dwelling in the building. Individual homes would often have coaxial cable routed throughout to provide for multiple TVs in lounge rooms and bedrooms throughout.

Thus, in the United States, there are a huge number of buildings with coaxial cables sitting in the walls. Today, they’re often still in use, delivering cable TV and cable internet services. In this era, though, many coaxial outlets are going unused. Sometimes, it’s because the transition to digital cable meant that a separate set-top box was needed per TV, adding expense. Other times, it’s simply because cable TV has been supplanted in some respects by the rise of streaming services.

MoCA adapters, which hook up a typical RJ45 Ethernet connection to a coaxial cable.

This wide base of installed coax led to the devleopment of MoCA, a network standard intended to use these cable runs. 1.0 edition equipment first became available in 2006. MoCA stands for the Multimedia over Coax Alliance, and the technology was initially developed to send video over IP via existing coaxial cable runs. That use case didn’t really eventuate, but the underlying technology was sound.

Instead, the MoCA standard was developed into a networking technology to carry Ethernet over coaxial cabling. These days, it’s primarily touted as a solution to home networking problems. Common scenarios include when WiFi signals may not reach across a home, or where it’s desirable to get a wired network connection into a given room. MoCA can potentially help in these instances if coax hookups are available. Often, it involves hooking up a router to a MoCA adapter at one coaxial outlet in the house. Then, a MoCA WiFI extender or network adapter is hooked up at the other end to provide connectivity at the remote outlet.

MoCA Access is designed to work with a variety of coax network topologies. This is important to the product, as the whole value of MoCA is that it provides networking without requiring end users to recable their buildings. Credit: MoCA Alliance

The MoCA concept may sound curious, given that Ethernet was originally carried over coax cables in its earliest iterations. Back then, the various standards for coax ethernet were colloquially known as thicknet and thinnet depending on the diameter of coaxial cable used. However, MoCA differs, as it was developed for a different use case. MoCA networking had to be able to run on coaxial cables that may still be in use for cable TV or cable internet delivery.

Functionally, this meant that MoCA signals had to avoid stepping on cable TV bandwidth, or interfering with DOCSIS cable internet signals. MoCA achieves this by simply running on frequencies not traditonally used by cable TV. In the case of DOCSIS internet though, special measures had to be taken to make the standards interoperable. Special filters are often also used to prevent MoCA signals from reaching other cable network users beyond the dwelling or building intended.

The first 1.0 version of the standard allowed for half-duplex operation at up to 100 Mbit/s, and could handle up to eight nodes. MoCA 1.1 was released in 2007, bumping speeds to 175 Mbit/s and adding capability to handle 16 nodes.

MoCA 2.0 further increased speed to 500 Mbit/s, or 1 Gbit/s in a bonded mode, while achieving latency of 3.6 ms. MoCA 2.1 later added bridge detection to avoid neighbours accidentally forming networks together, while also adding power saving features. MoCA 2.5 included the MoCA Access development, intended for facilities like hotels, hospitals, or other facilities with existing sprawling coax networks. It offered networking at up to 2.5 Gbit/s down, 2.0 Gbit/s up, and provisions for up to 32 nodes.

MoCA 3.0 was later released in 2021, able to achieve up to 10 Gbit/s operation. However, achieving these speeds requires using the entire bandwidth available on the coaxial cable. Thus, only lower speeds can be used in concert with cable TV or cable internet on the same lines.

63 thoughts on “MoCA Networking Is A Niche Solution For Coax Lovers

  1. I wanted to run a wired backhaul for my mesh network to a 2nd story bedroom in the far corner of the house that wasn’t wired for ethernet. I was unsure how to do it until I remembered I had a completely unused coax cable that was already running from my basement (where my router is) all the way up to the attic and across the house to pop out in said bedroom. I added MoCA adapters on both ends, and it works flawlessly!

      1. Power line has huge fluctuations in performance and tons of jitter. I don’t even attach the coax feed to the splitter, just directly into the coax modem and then make the remainder all Moca 2.5 ports

    1. One part of coax infrastructure I hate are the “F” connectors. The cursed things have to be perfectly aligned and even then require too many turns to connect. Give me a BNC connector!

    2. No, I don’t. In fact I expanded my coaxial infrastructure.

      Tools to work with coaxial cable are cheap and easy to use, and terminating coaxial cables is cake.

      Note that when I did all the coaxial cables I also ran Cat6 cables, but one of the nice potential uses of coaxial cables is it can carry both television signal and wired Internet, meaning (if product manufacturers ever get on board) – coax cable to my television, and television now has ATSC broadcast *and* Internet service without needing to use WiFi bandwidth and without needing yet another Cat6 patch cable in the rats nest behind the television.

      Some cable television providers already are on board with their set top boxes supporting MoCA and DirecTV set top boxes support DECA, which is MoCA using the “E” band. We just need to get ATSC tuners on board and with ATSC 3.0 making use of Internet service, perhaps television manufacturers will get on board.

      MoCA is faster than most WiFi, with gigabit Internet service I can speed test over 950 up and down on PCs connected via MoCA (same speed I get when connected via Cat6) and you can even get MoCA 2.5 adapters that support 2.5 gigabit on the Ethernet side of the bridge.

      Currently our home network is all Cat6 because I bought the tools to run it and terminate it and test it, and we currently don’t have either CableTV or DirecTV, but we still benefited when there was a pipe burst in the attic flooding the room that had our router and switches.

      While rebuilding that room and painting etc., I was still able to keep the house Internet up by using the coaxial cable network with MoCA adapters.

      Coaxial cable is good technology. It may be old, but it’s good technology, and MoCA allows your coaxial network to basically be turned into a large L2 network switch with gigabit (or 2.5 gigabit if you spend the money) wired LAN capabilities anywhere there is an existing coaxial jack.

  2. My house probably has at least three full webs of coax running through it. It’s fun trying to do the archeology. There is a set each for an aerial antenna, an dish network type thing, regular cable TV and now coax for internet (and TV) and those are the ones I’m sure of. According to my telecom friend, SOP when doing a new TV (or dish or cable internet..) install is just do a new install regardless of existing cabling.

      1. Me too. Mine is a fairly new house, but the previous owners has coax sockets in some rooms, a satellite dish on the roof (but no tv antenna) and a large number of coax cables in the roof that are probably half connected and half going nowhere.

        All I really want to do is document what goes to each socket, but even that’s too hard.

        1. Simpler way to do it. Disconnect everything. Put a 75 ohm terminator on one outlet. Down at the wiring closet, use a multimeter to find the coax with the terminator on. Remove, replace on the next outlet, repeat. Of course, the toner makes it a bit easier, but they aren’t cheap.

  3. Dear Lewin, you wrote: “America is the holy land of cable TV. Just 6.4% of Americans had cable TV by 1968, but that figure reached a full 62.4% by 1994.” Those are interesting figures indeed, but…

    I do no want to spoil the fun and I know this isn’t a contest, but to put things into perspective I would like to mention that in 1998 the Netherlands had cable in 93% of the households. So If you consider America the holy land of cable, how would you call the Netherlands then?

    1. Don’t believe a word. First, the router must have back haul capabilities. Good luck. There are none. As for modern/routers i found 2. One was version 2.0 which the speed would have been equivalent to dial up if it worked at all. The only other one i could find (still an older version) was not supported by my isp. The device said it was supported by my isp. It took me about 3 eight hour days trying with help from the isp. I even had to have my landline phone discontinued which is a whole other story. There are so many adapters out there for moca but if there are no modern/routers with moca capabilities, the adapters are useless. This project took about 2 to 3 weeks and cost over $400 just to try something that actually sounds to good to be true. It is. I did get a refund on everything but I’m the time involved i could have set up wifi networks for 3 middle sized companies.

      1. This is incorrect. You absolutely don’t need a router to use MoCA at home. The adapters bridge Ethernet to MoCA, and using them is similar to the Powerline adapters. I just connect a pair of them to Ethernet switches and they work perfectly with no additional configuration.

    2. Coaxial Heaven? But I think your confusing ‘cabled’ (connectivity) as equivalent to “Coaxial Cable” which is what this thread is about.

      According to a recent survey:
      “The Netherlands recorded the lowest number of coaxial outlets per household with 45 per cent having two or more and 15 per cent having three or more. The four countries were chosen because of their competitive pay-TV environments, increasing penetration of HDTVs and DVRs, number of TVs per household and the high daily TV viewing hours.

      “We commissioned this survey at the request of many pay TV operators,” said Charles Cerino, President of MoCA.

    1. DOCSIS has a different purpose. Yes DOCSIS is more capable, but it takes way more stuff to make it possible.

      Typical DOCSIS modems are full routers and may have WiFi hotspots.

      MoCA adapters are usually only converters from RJ45 to RF and RF to RJ45. the router is somewhere else in the system.

        1. second hand DOCSIS CMTS? The [problem with reusing cheap DOCSIS modems is the same as reusing cheap DSL modems 20 years ago, price of termination device (DSLAM, CMTS). This is why HomePlug and MoCA are so attractive – P2P architecture just like ethernet, but over cheap obsolete cables.

      1. “but it takes way more stuff to make it possible.”

        Not… really? I mean, in some sense, it does, but the actual signalling between the ends is just as difficult. You still need an Ethernet phy to receive/decode, and you still need the same analog stuff needed for DOCSIS. MoCA “acts” like RJ45-to-coax but that’s just because it wraps the data.

        It’s actually a bit frustrating that something like MoCA wasn’t embedded in DOCSIS (like, local channel negotiation or something, I dunno) since there are issues with MoCA/DOCSIS frequency overlap.

    2. DOCSIS isn’t a LAN solution. It’s just one alternative to effect the home’s Internet connection, with others being DSL, fiber, Starlink, wireless point-to-point, cellular hotspot, etc. DOCSIS gets the Internet to/inside the residence; MoCA, primarily, helps spread wired LAN access around the house — where coax connectivity is available.

      But the article misses a critical point Re: DOCSIS as it relates to MoCA: the evolving DOCSIS spec encroaching on the MoCA [Band D] frequency range. Increasingly, special attention needs to be paid to ensure that the MoCA signals don’t interfere with DOCSIS modem operation.

      All good:
      * DOCSIS 3.0: 5-1002 MHz
      * MoCA Extended Band D: 1125-1675 MHz

      * DOCSIS 3.1 modem-only: 5-1218 MHz
      * DOCSIS 3.1 “initial rollout”: 5-1218 MHz
      * DOCSIS 3.1 “full rollout”: 5-1794 MHz
      * DOCSIS 4.0: 5-1812 or 5-3018 MHz

      The simplest case of a D3.1 modem absent use of DOCSIS signals above 1002 MHz can be remedied by installing a MoCA filter directly on the modem coax port, as a prophylactic; but once the cable Internet service level requires use of DOCSIS frequencies above 1002 MHz, isolation of the modem feed from the MoCA-infused coax becomes necessary — so plan accordingly. (Adjusting the MoCA operating range is a suggested alternative workaround for the D3.1 “initial rollout” phase, but aside from the loss of effective throughput due to reduced channels, the unavailability of a “PoE” MoCA filter with a similarly shifted pass-band makes it impractical.)

      1. This is fairly easy to work around. Identify which coaxial run feeds your DOCSIS modem (or run a new dedicated run) and then at the coaxial cable demarcation, you use a passive two-way splitter (Antronix Red-label or for DOCSIS 3.1 phase 2 / DOCISIS 4, Antronix Orange Label). One split goes to your DOCSIS modem, the other split has a MoCA “Point of Entry” filter on it (basically a 1002 MHz low-pass filter) which then feeds the distribution splitter.

        DOCSIS and MoCA are then segregated from each other.

        Of course, when messing around the demarcation point to put in the splitter, do double-verify that demarcation point has a proper bonding wire to ground (earthing electrode), code requires it.

    3. MoCA is symmetrical and point-to-point, while most DOCSIS implementations have about 90% of their bandwidth dedicated to sending data from a single node to the rest of the network, 10% for sending data in the opposite direction, and none available for going directly from node to node.

  4. DirecTV uses the heck out of MoCA.

    There are cheap adapters on eBay (2 for $20) for 2.0 spec.

    If you have a DTV STB it is a MoCA adapter all by itself. The RJ45 on the back of the STB can be used as source or destination.

  5. “MoCA Networking Is A Niche Solution For Coax Lovers”

    Is it a niche solution? Is it for coax lovers?

    Your article and the comments seem to state the opposite. That because Coax is pervasive, it’s an inexpensive way for people to get wired connections to hard to reach places.

    Not that it’s used by few and only because of their love for Coax.

    1. I was thinking the same thing, title seemed dismissive.
      To the average person, coax just looks like outdated tech and not something that can pipe 10Gbps—even I was surprised about that.

      1. MoCA has a number of advantages and disadvantages, the latter of which will keep it from gaining much more usage than it already has.

        Wiring is cheap, almost laughably so. It is also ridiculously easy to tool too. (see disadvantages)
        The frequency range supported is limited by attenuation per foot of the cable, so even RG-59 cable is actually useful.
        Much of the configuration is automatic, no need for users to fiddle with settings.
        Being a shared bus architecture means extending the system is easy and requires no active equipment between nodes.

        Even though tooling the cable is easy, you actually have to buy the tools. Most people cannot justify the purchase of the proper tools and resort to tool-free connectors (horrendously noisy) or use cheap crimp ends smashed on with a pliers and the shield braid hanging out like a ponytail (terrible SNR).
        The high frequency region used greatly limits the practical reach of the system. Sure the cable length can be up to 200 meters, but that is point-to-point with no splitters. This in general is not an issue as most combined cable runs are far less than that.
        You thought auto-configuration is great? Not when it is missing several features that would make it’s deployment far more practical.
        No proper VLAN support.
        No real QoS support.
        Limit of 16 nodes per physical network. Being a shared bus infrastructure this limitation is more practical than topological.
        Even though this is an industry standard, this standard is very much proprietary and closed. This is why you don’t see very many clone and knockoff products about. The members of this standards organization have worked very hard to exert complete control over this IP, and to great effect too. This may seem good at first, but this has led to available products that are overpriced and do not perform as good as open standards technology comparisons. This also means that products available are marketed to ISPs and other businesses, making it difficult to buy new products as a consumer. For example: you cannot readily buy the Hitron EMN-3 MoCA WiFi bridge as a consumer, you can get it only if your ISP carries it, and they usually rent them out.
        Most devices constructed are marred by poor design choices and innumerable missed opportunities such as:
        blindingly bright blinkenlights (I somewhat appreciate them, most don’t and I see why)
        no ceiling mount options
        no concealed jack options
        wall-mounting being an afterthought
        no mass market implementation by television manufacturers

        This product market is best described as the child you didn’t want, don’t love, and take care of out of pure obligation.

        1. Absolutely, I agree—I liked that last
          description bit there, so true.
          Its funny you mentioned that about
          terminating the coax, I almost did the knucklehead approach with the pliers but opted for a set of Klein tools. Terminating the cables made me feel like my father or just any Hank Hill-type of dad-guy.

          Like you said there about the flashy lights (though helpful) and awkward form-factors, I was thinking I’d just install some small flush-mount wall boxes w/ cable pass-thrus and other utilities. I do know there is a Moca wallplate device floating around from Wi3. Maybe I should just whip-up and 3d-print a cad model of a 1-gang plate recasing for my current transceivers and power up the endpoints with the old phone lines i don’t use—when digging-in like that, I guess it can be kinda niche

        2. The proper tools from Klein to make a compression connection are actually cheaper than the proper tools to terminate Cat6, and are a lot easier to work with.

          For example, with Cat6, those of us “in the know” do our damdest to avoid ever making a male plug end *especially* if PoE is involved, pass-through connectors for example frequently fail for PoE and non-passthrough connectors are a royal pain to cut to just the right length especially in cramped conditions.

          And with Cat6 tools, even if you do make the connection, you have no way of knowing if the termination is up to spec unless you spend $1000 or so on really fancy testing equipment. So your termination may work fine one day but may not work at higher speeds it should support, or even worse, may decide to downgrade to 100baseT with picky equipment.

          You don’t have that problem with coax. It’s much cheaper to buy the tools needed to confidently terminate the connection and know it will work at full capability.

          I spent much more on my Cat6 tools then I spent on my coaxial tools, and I still don’t have the ability to test that my termination meets the specification. I can test for connectivity, split pairs, etc. but I can’t guarantee it will handle 2.5 gigabit, the only way for me to know is try it on a 2.5 gigabit network because I can’t afford the Fluke test equipment.

  6. Moca is used extensively by fiber carriers AFAIK. Telefónica and others I’ve seen use it to connect their TV STBs to their fiber router.
    They go as far as laying out new cable In the house for it is cheaper than cat5.

  7. A few months back I lived in a place with expensive internet ($70 for 50Mbps) and needed to extend the network. I used powerline adapters which worked ok and carried basically the full speed.

    I moved to a new place and had about 460Mbps, and tried the powerline adapters with disappointing results (less than 100mbps). I found moca adapters and bought some cheap ones to go with my existing coax runs. They work FANTASTICALLY!

  8. Reminds me of Farallon’s PhoneNet used to network Macintosh and apple ][ computers over the unused phone line pairs in places with a single line. If there was no landline service dual line splitters could be used to run two separate PhoneNet networks. It was slow, very slow. Using phone lines installed in the walls usually worked, as long as everything was wired correctly and the second line pair was present in all the cabling and connected at every wall socket.

    Circa 1999 Farallon introduced HomeLINE, their name for HomePNA. That ran at a blistering 1 megabit per second over phone lines and there were even wireless adapters for it. Would have to do more digging I’m not interested in to see if it ran on the active first line pair or if it too required a ‘dead’ second line pair.

    1. “It was slow, very slow.”

      I wonder how it compared to RS-232 based “networks”, though.
      Especially with little, speedy networks like LittleBigLan (aka “Kirschbaum Netz” here in Germany, I believe)..

      On DOS PC, the max. speed via RS-232/V.24 usually was 115 200 Baud or Bit/s – the symbol rate matched raw speed (no compression in hardware)..

      Even with an old 8250 chip sometimes, depending on the circumstances (amount of interrupt use, CPU power, CPU utilization by application). Sure, a 16550AF or later FiFo would be recommended, nevertheless.

      Anyway, I like the idea of PhoneNet and its use of twisted-pair. At this slow speed, it didn’t cause nearly as much interference as DSL, I suppose. ;)

      That being said, here in old Europe, we didn’t always have twisted-pair cabling for telephone. Some of our ancient cabling in old houses is nearly 100 years old and uses bell wire, non-twisted. I guess that’s not ideal for PhoneNet, but still works.

      1. Couldn’t find anything under both names you mention. “LittleBigLan (aka “Kirschbaum Netz” here in Germany, I believe).”
        If there is some weird early days network tech that is specific to germany I would love to read about it. Any other names, brands, standards or whatever I could look this up?

        1. Hi there! Little Big LAN is/was a software package from North America, I believe.

          Here in Germany, a company named Kirschbaum Software GmbH sold it unter its own name or modified the software, dunno, in addition to selling another piece of software (Kirschbaum Link) .

          In my father’s copy of the manual of Kirschbaum Netz, there are hints to Little Big LAN. Parts of the program executables have the initials of Little Big LAN (LBL)..

          The software was quite nifty, it seems. It could support Ethernet/Cheapernet, ARCNet, null-modem connections and parallel connections (Laplink).

          Now, the interesting part was, that each station could act as a router. If a PC had no NIC but two serial COM ports, it could sit between two other PCs.

          PC A (COM1) -> PC B (COM1) – PC B (COM2) -> PC C (COM1)

          That way, a real network without network cards was possible. PC A could reach PC C and vice versa. DOS and Windows 3 could fully use it, even use shared printers.

          1. “CherryTreeNet”.. Lol. Kirschbaum was the sur name of the company’s founder..

            But I’m not surprised that you didn’t found much. It was most active in the early 90s, before the internet/www was around for most of us.

            In online services like BTX, CompuServe or AOL you may have heard something about Little Big LAN or Kirschbaum Software, not sure.

            (LBL was seen in a late 80s episode of the Computer Chronicles, also, if memory serves.)

            Kirschbaum Software in its later years was later known for its selling of PowerBasic here in Germany (it imported it). PowerBasic was similar to Borland’s Turbo Basic (and in turn, MS Quick Basic).

            It’s products were also available via Pearl Agency, I believe – a company were you could order all kind of multimedia/electronic stuff via catalog. It still existed as Pearl, last time I checked.

            Anyway, here some more information about the company.


            Here are two articles/documents mentioning Kirschbaum Link, a simpler version of a network software.



    1. As far as I’m aware, there’s no Ethernet standard that can run on a single pair (i.e. coax) at more than 10Mbps. To get 100Mbps you need two pairs and to get 1Gbps or more you need four.

  9. I’m rocking an Ethernet over Coax setup to my detached garage. I wanted hardwired network and was considering running fiber. That’s when I found an existing buried coax line between the house and the garage. All I had to do was terminate the existing coax in my main house network closet and bam! I couldn’t be happier.

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