MoCA Completes Home-Net Field Test

The Multimedia Over Coax Alliance (MoCA) has completed successful field tests of 100 Mb home networking in 250 homes across 15 cities.

MoCA president Ladd Wardani said the groups members achieved 100 Mb service to 95% of the coaxial cable jacks in those tests. “This large-scale field trial demonstrates that MoCA technology can deliver high-quality digital entertainment throughout the home in real-world conditions,” he said.

MoCA was formed by Cisco-Linksys, Comcast Corp., EchoStar Communications Corp., Entropic Communications, Motorola Inc., Panasonic Consumer Electronics, RadioShack Corp. and Toshiba America Information Systems Inc. to develop a high-bandwidth home-networking application for video and data services.

Based on the successful test, Wardani said the organization will begin certification tests of real-world vendor equipment in the second quarter, with products possibly reaching customers by the third quarter.

In the test, MoCA used a home-networking device and chipsets from Entropic. Each MoCA founding member received two test kits, including four devices, about the size of a cable modem, and a laptop that held the test program. Volunteers within each company took the kits home.

The MoCA devices were plugged into at least three, but no more than four, coax outlets in the test home. “It was truly just plug and play,” Wardani said.

Each device had a cable-in/cable-out interface plus, four Ethernet jacks. The laptop, connected by Ethernet, recorded information on power levels, data rates and quality of service, then shipped that information to a central MoCA database. The actual test was done in one day at each home.

The test used all existing inside wiring, Wardani said. “Old houses, new houses, it didn’t matter,” he said. “In order for this to be viable, for either retail or operators, it has to be reliable, and if there is an issue, you have to be able to fix it.”

The test proved that out, he said, including the 5% of jacks that didn’t reach the 100 Mb plateau. “The 5% need to be able to be fixed in a reasonable manner,” he said.

Some of those failures were traced to various home wiring amplifier issues, often beyond the control of — but repairable by — the cable operator, Wardini said, adding that MOCA plans to have compliant amplifiers in future product releases. The balance of failures occurred because the outlet was not always connected to the in-home wiring.

“It wasn’t a marketing trial,” he added, “We weren’t testing usage models in the home,” like having four outlets running HDTV at the same time. “It was just a test of the technology.”

But it’s an important step forward, he said, paving the way for operators to have an economical whole-house solution for digital video recorders, without deploying additional hard drives in the home.