MoCA Goes Over the Top

12:20 PM -- US penetration of Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) will continue to be dominated by service provider deployments for the foreseeable future, but the emergence of specialized over-the-top video devices and services could give the home networking technology some desired retail potential, particularly when it comes to MoCA bridges and adapters.

Entropic Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: ENTR), the biggest supplier of MoCA chips, took that idea to task earlier this year when it hooked up with Boxee on a trial to see how about 50 Boxee users took to using MoCA-based adapters made by Actiontec Electronics Inc.

Based on the results, most found the MoCA dongles easy to install and took less than 30 minutes to set up the kit. About 47 percent said they tried connecting Boxee using wireless, but it didn’t work too well, with 85 percent saying MoCA performed better than WiFi.

Given the capacity of MoCA 1.1 (net throughputs of about 175Mbit/s), it's probably no surprise that a good number of the test group said the ability to stream HD from the Internet or from a PC/NAS on the home network was a top featured enabled by the technology:

Boxee's also been plugging MoCA on its own, offering a pair of MoCA bridges for $99, about half off the retail price. That promo ended on Oct. 16., and the company, which expects to start shipping the Boxee Box on Nov. 10, has no plans at this point to extend the offer, according to VP of marketing Andrew Kippen. (See Boxee's Strong Start .)

Demand for MoCA dongles may pick up at retail as consumers look for complementary ways to connect OTT boxes on home networks, but even that remains largely SP-oriented. DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV), for example, gives multi-room DVR customers a bridge to connect to their broadband router.

"That type of effort is where we're getting the greatest success," says Entropic VP of marketing Vinay Gokhale. "We think as the overall market grows for over-the-top, we'll certainly see an uptick in these ECB (Ethernet coax bridge)-type of products."

Eventually, Entropic would like to see MoCA go native in other devices, including broadband-connected TVs and Blu-ray players. The technology may also have a hand in extending the coverage of in-home wireless networks with the future introduction of MoCA-to-WiFi bridges, Gokhale adds.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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