How to Set Up a Coax (MoCA) Network

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Introduction: How to Set Up a Coax (MoCA) Network

Like many existing homes, my parents' home has a limited wired Ethernet network and a wireless (Wi-Fi) network covering the rest. My mom, who has rented Netflix DVDs for a while, wanted to start streaming her favorite shows in the family room and bedroom rather than waiting for disks. Prior to me coming home for Labor Day, they set up an Apple TV on the wireless network. I recommended that they switch to a wired network connection for a faster and more reliable solution.

My parents' Ethernet network is limited to the home office and a small bedroom directly above it. With the family room and bedroom on the opposite side of the house, expanding the wired Ethernet network conventionally would have been labor intensive. Fortunately, there's a wired networking solution that allows high speed Ethernet to bridge over the existing coax cable (cable TV) network in the home. It's called MoCA.

Before I get into the installation, the next step will cover a quick overview of the coax networking technology. 

Step 1: What Is Coax Networking (MoCA)?

A coax network is an extension of the existing home network onto the coax cable network in the home. Just like Wi-Fi is the ubiquitous standard for wireless home networks, MoCA is the nearly ubiquitous standard for coax networks. MoCA stands for the Multimedia over Coax Alliance. If your cable service provider offers a service called Multi-Room DVR, they are almost certainly using MoCA to enable it.

The current standard for MoCA is 1.1 and the equipment used in this project is standards compliant. 

A MoCA network is broadcasted roughly between 500MHz and 1.5GHz (1500MHz). The technology is designed so that it does not interfere with the broadcasts of traditional cable TV service. However, satellite TV, which runs on different spectrum, is not compatible with the 1.1 MoCA standard. For their respective multi-room DVR services, they use a proprietary coax networking technology. The MoCA 2.0 standard in development is expected to work for all service providers. 

To get the most detailed and updated information about this technology, visit the MoCA website.
http://www.mocalliance.org/

Step 2: Bill of Material

For the simplicity of photography, I included one each of the products used in this installation.

At the core of the installation is the coax network (MoCA) adapter, which I purchased from Legrand through Amazon.
http://www.amazon.com/On-Q-Legrand-DA2204-V1-Four-Port-Network/dp/B00BFF9GG8

I needed three adapters for my installation because I was installing in three rooms. The adapters come with a coax cable (~6.5ft), a twisted pair Ethernet cable (~3ft) and a power supply. You may need additional, or longer cables for your installation, which can be easily picked up online or at a home improvement store.

You may also need coax splitters. I plan on using one in each room. It's important to purchase a standards compliant splitter. One of the most reputable brands is Antronix, who has a partnership with Legrand for cable splitters.

Side story: A few months ago, my parents upgraded to digital cable. Not long after the installation, they were experiencing audio and video issues. When the Time Warner Cable technician came over, he replaced all the cable splitters in the home with Antronix brand splitters and an Antronix amplifier at the center of the system. The technician commented that many of the splitters installed into homes today are substandard. The Antronix brand is one of few that are pre-approved by the cable company to be standards compliant. Sure enough, the issues were resolved with the new splitters and amplifier.

The Legrand splitters are also "optimized" for coax networking, meaning that they have better performance in the 1-1.5GHz band than a standard 1GHz splitter. However, your network should be okay with 1GHz splitters as long as they are standards compliant.

If you are adding any new streaming devices in your installation, you will need HDMI cable. You can also find cable up to 20m long through Legrand too. 

Step 3: Wiring Diagram

I recommend that you draw a wiring diagram prior to purchasing and installing product.

The attached line drawing shows my intentions for a three room installation. The first room to start is where you'd find both an Ethernet and coax drop in the home, which is in the home office for this project. I have starred (*) wherever I am adding equipment or cables that was not there previously.

The following steps will explain the room by room installations.

Generally speaking, I am adding a coax splitter to each room. One outbound port will go to the cable set top box (STB) while the other port will go to the coax adapter. The coax adapter is then connected by an Ethernet cable to the respective connected devices. 

Step 4: Home Office: Converting Ethernet to MoCA

This installation started in the home office. 

The existing equipment was the modem, SonicWall security device, router (4 port), switch (5 port), and power strip. 

The first thing I did was find a power outlet for the coax adepter's power supply. When the adapter is plugged in, a light will come on.

Second, I unscrewed the coax from the modem and attached it to a splitter. I used the coax jumper cable provided and attached it to the "Cable in" port of the adapter. I used a spare coax jumper cable to connect the splitter to the modem.

Third, I used the provided Ethernet jumper cable to connect the router to the adapter. Any one of the four Ethernet ports of the coax adapter can be used. It was also inconsequential whether I used a port off the router or the switch for the connection.  A light should come on the adapter showing Ethernet is plugged into one of its ports.


Step 5: Family Room: Converting MoCA Back to Ethernet

The next room for the installation was the family room, where the home entertainment center is.

The key equipment already installed is the set top box and Apple TV. The Apple TV was installed the week prior on the wireless network. The equipment I'm adding is the coax adapter with its power supply, a coax splitter, two coax jumper cables (the second is not shown), and an Ethernet jumper cable.

The first step here again was finding a power source and plugging in the adapter.

Second, I unplugged the coax from the set top box and attached it to the splitter. I ran one of the coax cables from the splitter back to the set top box. The other coax cable was run from the splitter to the adapter (cable in port).

Last, an Ethernet cable was connected between the adapter and the Apple TV.

With two nodes of the network set up, the system was now able to be tested. Upon turning on the TV to the Apple TV source input, I knew the system was connected properly when the Apple TV showed it had switched from the wireless to the wired connection.

Step 6: Bedroom: Converting MoCA Back to Ethernet

The bedroom had the unique challenge of distance between the power source, the streaming device (Blu-ray player) and set top box. The entertainment furniture also makes access behind it incredibly difficult, and my dad and I were in no mood to move it. 

After a short brainstorm, we settled on putting the coax adapter on the floor next to the power strip. There was already a splitter on the floor of the bedroom, so there was already a long run of coax on the floor between the splitter and the set top box.

I replaced the splitter to add an additional port. I then used that additional port to attach the network adapter. 

Fortunately, there was enough room with this placement for the Ethernet cable to connect between the coax adapter and the Blu-ray player.

Step 7: FAQ

Please leave questions or comments that would help you or others do a coax network installation of their own. 

Here are some key questions that come to mind:

Q: Do you have to add a splitter to each room you add a MoCA network?
A: Not necessarily. For the simplicity of instruction, I did not write that we first tried the installation without the splitters in the bedroom and family room, meaning that the coax network adapter was placed between the incoming signal and the signal receiver (e.g. set top box). We saw that the MoCA network was competing with the multiroom DVR signal, which also uses MoCA. The use of splitters resolved this issue.

Q: How do you prevent a MoCA signal from leaving the home for security purposes?
A: There are inexpensive MoCA signal blockers that can be placed at the point of entry of the coax system in the home. They prevent the MoCA signal from leaving the home premises.

Q: Would a powerline solution have worked in place of MoCA?
A: Powerline is another viable solution to extend a wired network. However, I think a coax network is a more robust solution due to the bandwidth and signal integrity provided by coax.

Q: Where can I learn more?
A: There are many resources online to learn about the respective technologies. Legrand has a piece that explains all the available home networking technologies in one article. 

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    68 Discussions

    Something about this setup bothers me.

    You are splitting your cable signal. One line goes to the cable modem and the other to the MoCA adapter. The network signal then goes into the MoCA adapter which sends your network packets back out through the splitter back to the same wire that's coming in from the public feed.

    I'm concerned about security. It seems to me that with your setup you are pushing you network signal back over the public cable segment.

    7 replies

    Hi Khurt,

    Very good point. For security, you can purchase a MoCA signal blocker and place it at the entry point of the system.

    In many instances, a cable amplifier will also filter the MoCA signal.

    Putting a MoCA filter in place is not an option on a CATV system, it's required. By failing to put one on, you are introducing noise onto the system, causing problems for your cable company. These problems include degraded service to you and your neighbors and the potential to crash the node you are part of. This will cause an outage in your area.

    As to what khurtwilliams said, he is correct in pointing out that your network will be insecure. However, your network will only be open to a handful of your neighbors. The reason for this is the frequency MoCA operates at, and the type of coax used in your house. The attenuation is great at the frequency range MoCA is operating at. Also, because CATV amplifiers typically operate between 5 and1,000 MHz (some systems have older equipment that operates even lower in frequency), the MoCA signal is blocked after the amplifier. Basically, only your next door neighbors will be able to see your network if they are also have MoCA adapters.

    To add to this discussion, if you experience issues with your television service after adding MoCA - things like freezing and tiling on digital TV channels - add a MoCA filter to the affected televisions but in reverse. MoCA filters are one-way and block between 1-1.5 MHz. Flipping it keeps the MoCA signals out.

    I just saw this. The MoCA filter is not a requirement. The signal produced by MoCA is certified safe and non-interfering will all US cable companies. The MoCA filter is used to prevent neighbors with MoCA from joining your network. Additionally, MoCA has an encryption option to secure your network much like WPA for WiFi.

    My cable company (Charter) actually removed my filter, and I had to call and threaten to report them to the FCC before they returned it.

    As a cable tech, yes, a MoCA filter is a requirement. I'm surprised a Charter tech would remove your filter - it can cause serious problems in their system.

    There is the security issue - which I'm not even addressing because it's just best to put a filter in line. And, at least in the company I work for, it's mandatory that any MoCA network have a POE/MoCA filter installed.

    I have been on many, many trouble calls where failure to install POE/MoCA have caused issues with downstream SNR/MER on DOCSIS channels. While CATV systems may run at different frequencies than MoCA, it's the second and third order harmonics that cause the problems I have personally seen. I work in a 750mhz system and while MoCA operates between 800-1500mhz - it's those second order harmonics that land square in my system's DOCSIS frequencies causing intermittent internet issues between actives. So basically all your neighbors within 200-300 feet of your device.

    MoCA won't pass through active amps/line extenders because the upstream frequencies are much lower than a MoCA's operating frequency, thankfully. Upstream gets knocked out because the amps/LE's only work in a specific frequency range on the return - usually 0-45mhz, 0-75mhz, or something like that depending on the number of upstream carriers.

    And the hard part about it all is, if one guy installs a MoCA device without a POE/MoCA filter without the cable company knowing; finding that interfering device is very, very difficult. You literally have to go door-to-door to find the offending device.

    You can find a lot of this information on the Arris website. They have great information on MoCA.

    Allow me to clarify. Certainly, there CAN be issues with choosing not to install a PoE filter, and a PoE MoCA filter is always recommended, and the cable companies have every right to require the filter. But it is not a requirement in the spec, unless you are sharing the coax with an antenna, as the antenna would become a broadcast station, which would be in violation of FCC regulation regarding unlicensed broadcasting. Not all cable systems are equal, and each cable provider may have different requirements which the subscriber must adhere to so long as they are not in violation of regulatory controls.

    I would expect that the harmonic frequencies should never be an issue, for the same reason it does not interfere within the network where it is installed, and where the signal is the strongest. As the signal leaves the house, the noise introduced into the network becomes less of an issue, as the cable provider's signal is much stronger, and the moca signal must pass through several barrel connectors and splitters (further degrading the signal). I will have to look into this in more details to understand why this wouldn't be the case.

    Again, it is ALWAYS a good idea to install one, but it is not always required (at least back 4 years ago when I originally installed mine, and researched it heavily). Most cases of interference with other cable subscribers I have come across are with whole home DVR systems. These systems use MoCA as well, and the they interfere with each other without installing a MoCA adapter. With that said, I have no idea as to the impact of MoCA 2.0 or 2.1 on the network, as I have not kept up to date on those specs. And I do not know how these devices might interfere with switched digital video (tuning adapters), I suspect this may be the biggest area of interference.

    I am impressed with your knowledge. I have never met a cable service tech that actually knew anything about how the system works, or the physics involved. In my area, they generally go by a cheat sheet, and have very poor comprehension of the actual technologies involved. Thanks for your feedback. I will research more about the updated specs, requirements, and consumer rights.

    There are a few reasons that you won't see MoCA interference from a MoCA adapter on a modem in your network.

    First, MoCA devices are always installed forward of modems, with short jumper cables. Second and third harmonics will not manifest in that short of a distance. At 800mhz, you'd need a jumper around 14.7" before that harmonic could manifest itself. At 1.5ghz you'd need 8.5" or so. These measurements are roughly the full wave distance at those frequencies. Most MoCA are installed, in CATV applications, with jumpers around 6" long.

    Second, there is a band pass filter in the MoCA, so the frequencies MoCA runs at are knocked out before hitting the modem, because that MoCA adapter sits in front of the modem.

    The second reason I give is why cable companies separate telephone MTA's (modems) from a MoCA network either by isolating them with MoCA splitters (with built in POE filters) or by using a splitter feeding a separate splitter isolated with a POE filter. A MoCA device will sometimes cause some problems with telephony modems -- not all the time, but some of the time. Telephony modems are more robust because of the way they are provisioned and their upstream/downstream requirements. So its rare that MoCA will cause problems, making it harder for techs to diagnose.

    Many CATV boxes are starting to build in MoCA filters. It's been found that MoCA will cause random/Intermittent issues with television adapters/boxes. Pace (Arris), to name one company, is building in filters in the newer equipment - and they work pretty well. Prior to the build in of POE filters, some of us techs found that using a POE filter on the CATV box in reverse would eliminate interference issues that was causing tiling on the TV. Arris recently came out with a white sheet that describes just this method as one of the alternative fixes - if a MoCA splitter or system isolation is not possible. Honestly, there are some great white papers on MoCA on the Arris website.

    I'm actually more impressed by your knowledge. Most consumers don't take the time to actually understand the equipment and its limitations. It's the toughest part of the job. I've had thousands more discussions with people about why wifi will not go 500' through four or five concrete walls than I have had intelligent conversations about MoCA.

    2 things:

    1st is you are not splitting the cable signal. The MoCA adapter is an In-Line adapter. It has an input (from your cable) and an output ( to your cable modem)

    2nd is there is really no need to worry about security. Every cable tech is required to insatll a MoCa filter at the POE (point of entry) to your home...usually the ground block or the input of the first splitter. This keeps your MoCA network contained strictly to your home. Also many MoCA devices such as TIVO have an option to secure you MoCA network with a password.

    Do you actually need cable service for this to work or will it just work with existing coax? I don't have cable but have coax throughout the house

    1 reply

    Fred,
    Great question.
    No need for active cable service. It will work with an existing coax network. If you have any issues, check the quality of your splitters.

    Sorry for the simple question here, but why do you need to connect the MoCA device to your router?

    We recently "cut the cord," and I am trying to get some hard-wired spots without paying for additional services. So, in my simple thinking, I grab a MoCA device for say my TV on the other end of the house, pop the coax in, and put the ethernet to my Roku - no splitter needed here obviously. I am clearly missing a step.

    2 replies

    Versus, a MoCA network is a bridge for an Ethernet network to travel over coax. A MoCA network needs to begin with a wired network source, like a router or switch, and end with an Ethernet connection to an end device like your Roku box.

    Or to another router which can be setup as a bridged/switched accesspoint where the main router is still assigning the IP addresses.

    Can you clarify one point. In your wiring diagram, you have three adapters. Are they all identical? Or at least can they be?

    I have Fiber to the house, and what I'd like to do is plug one adapter into the Fiber router, and then another adapter in each room. Initially I thought I needed two adapters for each coax run. Your diagram makes it look like, I just one before a MoCA splitter, and then one at each end.

    That would be much cheaper.

    Also, the Actiontec WCB3000N looks like a great way to add ethernet jacks and extend my Wifi network at the same time.

    Our house has dual coax wires throughout the house and have TWC/Spectrum's TV/Internet/phone services over one of the coax wires coming into the house, which splits in to multiple rooms and one has an Arris tg1672 modem (which I don't think is MoCA compliant) connected. From the modem, we have phone and internet services connected. We have our own router (TP-LINK AC1750) connected to the modem (with an ethernet cable) for wifi. We are trying to create another wifi hotspot as well as enable high speed video download capability at the other end of the house (which is too far for any router and repeaters seem to significantly degrade the throughput). Since we have an unused coax network, could I simply connect an MoCA adaptor to the router (using an ethernet cable), then connect the MoCA adaptor to a coax outlet/port of the unused network, then connect an Actiontec WCB3000N01 (which is a combined MoCA adaptor and and wifi extender) at the other end (to another coax outlet/port of the same unused network) to create a wifi hotspot as well as physical ethernet connections without worrying about noise/filtering/security? Any recommendations on a less expensive MoCA adaptor (Actiontec ECB2500C is $67 on Amazon)?

    Does anyone know if you can set up a MoCA network with a coax wifi extender that is not from Actiontec? possibly using something cheaper than the ones from Actiontec

    1 reply

    MoCA is an industry-wide standard, so in theory as long as it is certified for the same version of the MoCA standard, the devices should all work together.

    Hi there,

    I have just been relocated to Europe and prior to now network cabling has not been a problem, nor has wireless signal in my home. However I am now living in a 120 year old apartment with walls that are so thick they could withstand a an explosion. The one saving grace is many of the rooms have been wired with modern coax.

    I have had installed a cable modem (UPC is the provider here). The provider runs fiber to the building and from there it is split in the basement of the building and runs coax to the different apartments. The one problem is I am not sure where which outlet is the first outlet in my apartment.

    I was wondering is it possible to take one of the available outlets off the wall add in a coax splitter/combiner and install my cable modem, then add an ethernet to moca adapter from the cable modem back in the the coax splitter/combiner. I have attached a diagram with my thoughts.

    If there is a better way to do it with other equipment I am also open to suggestions.

    Thanks in advance

    Digram.jpg

    I have suddenlink cable and my own purchased Tivo Bolt. I'm trying to connect a Tivo Mini and am having a Network (MoCA) Problem, error C33, Tivo box unable to connect to your MoCA network. Tivo support suggested I upgrade the splitter to 3Ghz and install a MoCA "POE" Filter which I've done. Still can't connect. I'm on hold with Tivo support (35+ min). Anyone have suggestions? My MoCA settings are default, I'm unaware of any changes I may need to make at the Bolt. Thanks

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    Sjons

    2 years ago

    Twc is telling me they need to activate my MoCA modem and then another data charge per month is that true?