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Ethernet Over Coax?! A Complete Guide To MoCA Adapters

How Ethernet to coax MoCA adapters can simplify and speed up your home or small office network.

Ethernet Over Coax?! A Complete Guide To MoCA Adapters Kevin Jones / TechReviewer

Last Updated: March 18, 2023

Written by Kevin Jones

When I discovered that MoCA adapters existed, I had just spent a week moving Wi-Fi routers and Wi-Fi access points around my house. I was trying to get a good signal upstairs, downstairs, and outside at the same time. I didn't want to run an Ethernet cable out a window or drill a hole in a wall or floor, so I was stuck with moving around a Wi-Fi access point.

That was until I realized that I already had wire in the walls—coax cable! But wait, you can't use coax cable for Ethernet communication, can you? The answer turned out to be yes, you can!

What Is MoCA?

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MoCA, which stands for Multimedia over Coax Alliance, is a standards group that defined how networking can occur over coax cables via MoCA Adapters.

MoCA was initially developed for streaming video over the Internet for set-top boxes and smart TVs but is now available for general use in home networks.

The primary advantage of using a MoCA network rather than traditional Ethernet cables is that it provides the convenience of using a home's existing coax cables for Ethernet communication.

Example MoCA Home Network Example MoCA Home Network Kevin Jones / TechReviewer

What Is a MoCA Adapter?

A pair of MoCA adapters allows you to use a coax cable for Ethernet communication. MoCA adapters behave like an extension for an Ethernet cable. Multi-node configurations can also function as an Ethernet hub.

For example:

  • Suppose you have a cable modem downstairs and multiple computers in various rooms upstairs which need Internet access.
  • You can share the downstairs coax outlet with the cable modem by using a MoCA-compatible coax splitter. The MoCA adapter is then connected to the modem using an Ethernet cable.
  • Upstairs, you can provide Internet access to each computer by connecting MoCA adapters to nearby coax outlets. The computers connect to the MoCA adapters with Ethernet cables.
  • That's it! MoCA adapters are typically plug and play, meaning that no additional configuration is required.

Some modems may include built-in MoCA support, making it so that you only need a single adapter.

MoCA vs. Alternatives

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Ethernet Cable & AlternativesSetup ComplexitySupported SpeedsSupported DistanceLatencyReliability
Ethernet Cable - Ethernet over Twisted Pair (e.g., Cat 6a)ExcellentExcellentGoodExcellentExcellent
Powerline - Ethernet over PowerlineExcellentFairGoodFairPoor
MoCA - Ethernet over CoaxGoodGoodGoodGoodGood
Wi-Fi - WirelessGoodFairFairPoorFair

Learn more about Powerline adapters in my article, MoCA vs. Powerline? Which You Should Buy.

MoCA vs. Ethernet

Ethernet over coax provides the same functionality as Ethernet over typical Ethernet cables (e.g., Cat 6a). The primary advantage of using a MoCA network rather than traditional Ethernet cables is that it provides the convenience of using a home's existing coax cables for Ethernet communication.

MoCA adapters will introduce a few milliseconds of latency to your network, but this is pretty insignificant.

MoCA vs. Wi-Fi

MoCA can be combined with Wi-Fi devices to create a fast wireless network. Alternatively, MoCA could create a high-speed wired network with higher throughput and lower latency than Wi-Fi communication.

The same communication which typically occurs over Ethernet cables (e.g., Cat 6a Ethernet cables) can also occur over a coax cable if you use MoCA adapters. Wi-FI, on the other hand, is the wireless sibling to Ethernet. While MoCA doesn't replace the Wi-Fi portions of a home network, it can work together with Wi-Fi devices. In particular, it can connect distributed wireless nodes across a home.

MoCA vs. Powerline

Powerline adapters offer a similar promise by using your home's AC wiring (power outlets) for Ethernet communication.

Suppose your Internet speed is less than 200 Mbps or your devices on the network do not support gigabit Ethernet. In these cases, Powerline adapters may be the best of the two options for you, as they offer a lower price point.

On the other hand, MoCA adapters are a better option when you want to fully utilize a higher-speed Internet connection and have existing coax cabling between rooms.

You could also consider using both! For example, MoCA adapters might work great for connecting an upstairs and downstairs via coax. At the same time, Powerline adapters would be great for getting Internet to a garage that has no coax line available.

Learn more about Powerline adapters in my article, MoCA vs. Powerline? Which You Should Buy.

What Can You Use MoCA Adapters For?

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MoCA adaptors in a home network can adapt an Ethernet cable to a coax cable and then back to an Ethernet cable. However, MoCA adapters allow for a multi-point network, connecting multiple Ethernet cables as a hub does. You can use MoCA Home adapters for extending any network or internet connection over a coax cable. You can use MoCA networks in all of the same ways as Ethernet cables and hubs.

MoCA Access is a variation of MoCA that has additional management features. Businesses and institutions can use it to distribute Internet access for multi-dwelling facilities such as a hotel, apartment building, resort, hospital, or educational facility. It is generally a much more expensive class of products targeted at businesses.

Use Cases for MoCA Adapters

  • Backhaul for a Mesh Wi-Fi System (i.e., a wired backbone for the Wi-Fi satellites).
  • Extend wireless coverage.
  • Use existing coax cables as a replacement for Ethernet cables.
  • Get Internet access into hard-to-reach places in your home.
  • Use wired connections to avoid Wi-Fi interference from neighbors.
  • Avoid the latency of Wi-Fi while playing games on consoles and computers.
  • A secure alternative to Wi-Fi when using a MoCA POE Filter.

Use Cases for MoCA Access, which is targetted at businesses with a point-to-point or point-to-multipoint network architecture, include:

  • Distribute Internet access for a hotel, resort, hospital, educational facility, or multi-dwelling unit such as an apartment building.
  • Distribute Fiber to the Building (FTTB) Internet, using existing coax wiring.
  • Network offices, restaurants, and the hospitality industry, using existing coax wiring.
  • Provide a wired backhaul for 4G/5G.

Are MoCA Adapters Worth It?

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MoCA adapters can be an excellent choice for distributing Internet and network access for homes already wired with coax cabling. MoCA adapters can create a high-speed, low-latency, and reliable network connection to any room in a home. The performance of MoCA adapters makes them perfect for gaming or streaming 4K content on your TV. MoCA adapters provide a hard-wired solution while avoiding the need to drill holes or run additional Ethernet cables.

You could also consider Powerline adapters for a lower-cost and lower-speed alternative, which I discuss in MoCA vs. Powerline.

Can I Use More Than Two MoCA Adapters?

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MoCA networks can contain up to 16 nodes (one network coordinator + 15 other adapters). A MoCA 2.5 network has a throughput capacity of 2.5 Gbps. Networks with more than two MoCA adapters will share this capacity among all nodes.

Learn more in How Many MoCA Adapters Do I Need?.

How Fast Is MoCA?

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MoCA 2.5 network has a max speed of 2.5 Gbps. The latest MoCA 2.5 adapters have 10/100/2500 ports, allowing full utilization of the network's throughput.

What You Need to Set Up a Home MoCA Network

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Setting up a MoCA Home network is quite simple, as it often requires no software configuration.

MoCA adapters may come with short Ethernet cables, coax cables, and a coax splitter.

Find MoCA 2.5 Adapters on Amazon (affiliate link).

Find MoCA POE Filters on Amazon (affiliate link).

Find MoCA-compatible Coax Splitters on Amazon (affiliate link).

Check out my Ultimate Cable Internet Wiring & Optimization Guide for additional cable setup guidance.

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Best MoCA 2.5 Adapter: Actiontec ECB7250 Bonded MoCA 2.5 Network Adapter

Runner-Up MoCA 2.5 Adapter (2.5 Gbps Port): goCoax MoCA 2.5 Adapter

MoCA Setup Tips

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  • MoCA is incompatible with Satellite TV, Dish, Direct TV, and AT&T U-verse TV, which use the same frequency bands.
  • Fios/Xfinity: Some people have experienced compatibility issues when using Xfinity DVRs, as they communicate using MoCA frequencies. The most straightforward workaround is to prevent communication with the Fios/Xfinity devices by configuring the MoCA adapters to use D-band high-end frequencies at 1400 Mhz and above. Xfinity uses 1150 MHz frequencies for MoCA on LAN networks. In this configuration, you would need at least two MoCA adapters. If this sounds too advanced for you, you could consider Powerline adapters, which I discuss in MoCA vs. Powerline.
  • Coax amplifiers and splitters will need to support the frequencies of up to 1625 MHz used by MoCA. Photo of the Coax Splitter MoCA 5-2450 MHz Coax Splitter MoCA 5-2450 MHz Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link
  • Using MoCA over RG-6 coax cables is best, but it may still work over older cables.
  • MoCA adapters are generally backward compatible but will run at lower speeds when used with older versions.

MoCA POE Filter

MoCA Point of Entry Filters filter out the 1 GHz+ frequencies used by MoCA devices.

MoCA devices commonly include DVRs and MoCA adapters and can be used for Ethernet communication over a coax cable.

MoCA POE Filters are beneficial for privacy, to prevent leaking data to your nearby neighbors, as well as reducing noise on the line.

They also reflect the MoCA frequencies, which can be desirable for improved MoCA device communication.

Your cable provider may have already installed a MoCA POE Filter with one of these labels:

  • Do not remove—Required for multi-room DVR operation
  • Do not remove—Required for whole-home DVR operation
  • Do not remove—Required for any-room DVR operation

Despite the phrasing, these filters also apply to MoCA adapters for Ethernet usage. The main reason for this wording is that DVR set-top boxes are a more common usage of MoCA.

Photo of the MoCA 'POE' Coax Filter MoCA 'POE' Coax Filter Check Price on Amazon Amazon Affiliate Link

MoCA Versions

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MoCA 2.5 is the latest commercially available version. MoCA 2.5 provides 2.5 Gbps of network throughput and supports up to 16 adapter nodes.

MoCA versions 2.0 and up include additional security features, such as MoCA protected setup (MPS) and signal power and network management features.

MoCA VersionNetwork Throughput
2.52.5 Gbps
MoCA 2.1 Bonded1 Gbps
MoCA 2.10.5 Gbps
MoCA 2.0 Bonded1 Gbps
MoCA 2.00.5 Gbps
MoCA 1.10.175 Gbps
Moca 1.00.1 Gbps

Does MoCA Conflict With DOCSIS 3.1 or DOCSIS 4.0?

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While MoCA 2.0 (and above) and DOCSIS 3.1 (and above) share frequency ranges above 1 GHz, a "standards operational practice" has been defined to ensure interoperability. If any devices do not comply with these recommendations, then performance may degrade.

Another important consideration is regarding MoCA POE Filters. These filters are necessary for creating a network barrier so that your devices do not communicate with your neighbor's devices and vice versa. However, if your internet service provider uses high-frequency DOCSIS 3.1 and 4.0 channels above 1 GHz, a 1 GHz low pass filter may block those channels. To avoid this, you could segregate your modem from the rest of the MoCA network, as described below: How to Use Multiple Partitioned Coax Networks With MoCA.

MoCA and DOCSIS Frequency Overlap MoCA and DOCSIS Frequency Overlap Kevin Jones / TechReviewer

MoCA Security: Is MoCA Secure?

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By default, most MoCA adapters will not be secure. However, they can be secured in three different ways:

  • MoCA POE Filter - A Point of Entry filter is a low pass filter that filters out and reflects MoCA signals. POE Filters will prevent your devices from communicating with nearby neighbors. MoCA signals can travel up to about 300 feet.

  • Encryption - MoCA 2.5 adapters typically support some form of encryption, although it often requires manual configuration. Node password sharing is possible via an MPS (MoCA protected setup) button, similar to the WPS button on many Wi-Fi devices.

  • Coax partitioning - By disconnecting your MoCA coax cables from the cables that leave the property, you prevent other devices from accessing your data via coax.

MoCA Backward Compatibility

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Is MoCA 2.5 Backward Compatible?

MoCA 2.5 is backward compatible with 2.0 and 1.1.

Is MoCA 2.0 Backward Compatible?

MoCA 2.0 is backward compatible with 1.1.

Latest Version of MoCA

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MoCA 2.5 is the latest version with products available on the market.

MoCA 3.0 (future)

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MoCA 3.0, which is expected to have silicon available in 2022 or 2023, will have a maximum network throughput of 10 Gbps. However, it is unclear if MoCA 3.0 Home adapters will be produced.

The MoCA 3.0 specification is complete, but it is speculated by Jeff Heynen, Dell'Oro Group Vice President, that manufacturers may never produce MoCA 3.0 Home products.1 This is based on the decline of the pay-TV cable market, transition to cloud-based DVRs, and advancement of Wi-Fi 6. MoCA silicon is often driven by demand and commitments from operators and service providers.

How to Use Multiple Partitioned Coax Networks With MoCA

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MoCA adapters typically work just fine over the same coax lines as you use for your internet. However, if you want to minimize potential interference for your cable modem and maximize security, you can separate your coax into two networks. You can use one line going from the street to your cable modem. You can then use another separate coax line to connect the two MoCA adapters.

This configuration may not be as typical. It would require you to run an Ethernet line between two rooms, to access another coax wall outlet.

Is One or Multiple Coax Networks Better?

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Network isolation (multiple partitioned coax networks) is ideal for maximizing security and minimizing potential cable interference. A single network is suitable if you are more interested in a simplified configuration. Single networks are also pretty secure with a MoCA POE Filter.

Modems With Built-in MoCA Support

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Some cable modems have built-in support for MoCA, which means that you would only need a single additional MoCA adapter to create a MoCA network. However, most modems on the market currently only support MoCA 2.0.

Mesh Wi-Fi With Coax Ethernet Backhaul

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One excellent use case for a MoCA network is as a Mesh Wi-Fi System's wired Ethernet backhaul. Ethernet backhaul means using coax cables to connect the main mesh router to mesh Wi-Fi satellite nodes. Doing so would provide a fast connection between the router and satellites, maximizing Wi-Fi speeds throughout your house.

Mesh Wi-Fi Systems are becoming more popular as they simplify getting Wi-Fi signals into hard-to-reach locations of a home. They create a Wi-Fi network with multiple Wi-Fi access points to spread out the Wi-Fi coverage. Each of these Wi-Fi access points is called a satellite node.

However, as each satellite node in a Mesh System is just repeating Wi-Fi data to transport it to and from the router, there may be a performance penalty.

To avoid the lower performance via satellite nodes, you can run Ethernet cables between the main router and satellite nodes. Using this wired connection is called "Ethernet Backhaul."

The drawback to this solution is that your home may not already be wired for Ethernet. To avoid adding additional Ethernet wiring, you can instead use a coax Ethernet backhaul.

Coax Ethernet backhaul means that you are using your home's coax wiring with MoCA adapters to connect the router to the satellite nodes. Wired backhauls will result in a fast connection throughout your house, ideally without needing additional in-wall wiring.

Example MoCA Home Network Example MoCA Home Network Kevin Jones / TechReviewer

What Is MoCA Access vs. MoCA Home?

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MoCA Home refers to the consumer use-cases for MoCA, providing a multi-point network over coax for a home.

MoCA Access refers to the business use-cases for MoCA, providing point-to-point and point-to-multipoint network connectivity for multi-dwelling units and business facilities.

MoCA Home supports 16 nodes, while MoCA Access supports 63 nodes connecting to a network coordinator.

MoCA Home adapters are available from various manufacturers, including popular ones produced by ScreenBeam, goCoax, Hitron, and Motorola.

Find MoCA 2.5 Adapters on Amazon (affiliate link).

Companies providing MoCA Access products and solutions include InCoax, Translite Global, and Luster Terraband.

Additional Resources

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Perhaps you are in the process of changing your coax configuration. If so, you may want to take a look at my Ultimate Cable Internet Wiring & Optimization Guide. The guide has instructions for optimizing your coax wiring for great internet performance.

Building Your Network

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If you want to learn more about cable internet equipment, networking, wiring, or troubleshooting, check out these articles:

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