Getting digitised media moving around the home has remained a question without a fixed answer. CAT5 network cabling, powerline, phone line and wireless have all been tried with varying levels of success and ease of installation. A new approach has been floated by a collective of networking, cable and Consumer Electronics (CE) industry big-boys under the banner of the Multimedia over Coax Alliance or MoCA.
They suggest that the coax cable routed around 70% of US homes, could offer considerable bandwidth, ideal for multi-use, digital video and data applications, while simultaneously carrying existing analog and digital cable as well as satellite services currently on the cable.
Cisco Systems, Comcast, EchoStar, Entropic Communications, Matsushita Electric (Panasonic), Motorola, RadioShack and Toshiba, among others, have formed a non-profit, mutual benefit corporation to develop and promote the specifications. These will be used as the basis for the certification process to validate products as interoperable with other MoCA enabled products.
MoCA plans to build on technology developed by Entropic Communications Inc, a closely held company in San Diego formed in May 2001, which designed chips to help send data over coax at up to 270 megabits per second. Expected to translate into a guaranteed bandwidth of about 100 megabits per second with a Quality of Service (QoS), provided by prioritised asynchronous services (802.1p), and what they describe as state of the art packet-level encryption, DES link layer baseline privacy. It will carry Ethernet (IP), 1394, MPEG applications.
Coaxial cabling is already connected to over 300 million television sets and is the preferred in-home video distribution medium for 90+ million cable and satellite homes in the US today. It offers a number of positive drives for the current content producing and distribution worlds; the innate security of a shielded, wired connection and a long-standing familiarity – the cable companies buy the stuff by the mile.
The MoCA technology is designed to be sold at retail, be as simple as a cable TV to install and be virtually transparent to the consumer. The final specification is expected to be available within 12 months.