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Time Warner Cable Joins the MoCA Club

Jeff Baumgartner
5/23/2008

Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) has quietly become the latest major U.S. cable operator to join the Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) , the organization behind a coax-based home networking scheme that touts a theoretical PHY rate of 270 Mbit/s.

The move was confirmed by a MoCA spokesman and is pretty obvious to anyone browsing the organization's Website.

In joining as a contributor-level member, the MSO will have some influence on the technology, able to submit and vote on specifications and other MOCA-related issues. DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV) recently joined as a contributor member as well. (See DirecTV Stirs in MoCA.)

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is a MoCA founder and board member, but has not announced any formal adoption of the technology.

But does Time Warner Cable's move into MoCA-land mean it's placed the multi-room DVR -- a leading application for MoCA -- on its product roadmap? Indications are yes, but the timing of it is fuzzy.

At the tru2way Developers Conference, the run-up to The Cable Show in New Orleans, Time Warner Cable VP of subscriber equipment Bill Helms noted that the MSO is migrating to a second-generation of devices based on the "open" system. (See MSOs Open Up on Tru2way.)

Also in the plans: adding home networking capabilities to the Open Cable Application Platform, the middleware component of tru2way. He said OpenCable is incorporating a home networking element that will enable the distribution of digital media, including video and photos, within customer homes.

He said the home networking addition is an important one to the MSO, but did not indicate when Time Warner Cable will roll it out. Based on where MoCA falls on the set-top roadmap at Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), the MSO's primary set-top supplier, don't expect anything big until 2009.

Dave Clark, director of product strategy and management for Cisco's Service Provider Video Technology Group, said his company has MoCA-powered boxes in labs now. Support for MoCA is also included in a new line of boxes Cisco unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. (See Cisco Debuts IP Hubs for the Home.)

Clark said Cisco expects large-scale rollouts of MoCA boxes sometime next year.

Meanwhile, MoCA itself is undergoing some changes of its own. The most recently ratified 1.1 version is expected to push net throughputs to 175 Mbit/s and to incorporate "parameterized" QOS, a technique designed to set enough capacity aside on the network to shuttle around premium, high-def video. A faster 2.0 version is also in the works. (See MoCA 2.0 .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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