The Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) standard appears to be on the move.
At the CableLabs Summer Conference this week, fabless semiconductor manufacturer Entropic Communications demonstrated the capabilities of MoCA 1.1 and Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) quality of service (QoS) 3.0 standards.
These technologies are included in CableLabs Reserved Service Domain (RSD) specification, which is part of the OpenCable Home Network Extension (OCHN) specification.
One demonstration at the Cablelabs event involved three computers embedded with Entropic’s MoCA 1.1 silicon and a UPnP QoS 3.0 stack built by Ghent University’s Interdisciplinary Institute for Broadband Technology (IBBT). Another showcased Entropic’s silicon and an Intel media processor system on a chip (SOC) within a set-top box platform.
Time Warner, Cox, Verizon
News of MoCA spiked earlier this year. In late March, Motorola announced its collaboration with Time Warner on a MoCA-based, tru2way multi-room digital video recorder (DVR) solution. Entropic announced that Cox would was adopting its MoCA-based chip-set in forthcoming set-tops.
Broadcom is another provider of MoCA silicon. It announced a MOCA-certification of its SOC reference design in April.
Verizon has deployed MoCA in its FiOS network as the video transport technology that communicates to the optical network terminal (OTN) on the side of the house and to set-top boxes. Many telephone operators, including AT&T in the US, and Bell Aliant and TELUS in Canada are using HomePNA, a competing technology.
However, HomePNA can cause problems with DOCSIS networks.
Cable operators are looking at using MoCA to provide additional services on top of their existing mix of video. The whole house DVR solutions will allow Time Warner and Cox customers to record shows from a single DVR, which can then be watched from any set-top in the house.
Home networking is in the midst of a “huge transition,” according to Lee Ratliff, a senior analyst with iSuppli.
“The introduction of IPTV is driving a new kind of home network,” he said. “All of these guys like AT&T and Verizon in North America need to get those packets to the TV throughout the home, and Wi-Fi and those best-effort LANs don’t cut it.”
MoCA and HomePNA are targeting that same space, Rafliff said.
HomePNA is getting a lot of traction from telcos that want an easy way to get into homes, because it supports both coax and twisted pair wiring. Its physical data rate is 320 Mbps over coax, and 160 Mbps over twisted pair, which provides ample bandwidth for several video channels within a home or multiple dwelling unit (MDU).
North America is the home of more than 75 percent of HomePNA deployments, which include all major telcos except for Verizon, according to Richard Nesin, HomePNA executive director.
HomePNA is used for connecting within private houses and apartment buildings and as an MDU access platform that extends up to 5000 feet. The HomePNA QoS mechanism allows video to be transmitted from a concentrator in an apartment building to each apartment, even if they are daisy chained together. It can support up to 32 apartments from a single concentrator.
MoCA + DLNA
Service providers have different reasons for deploying these technologies.
“The telcos have done this out of necessity,” iSuppli’s Radliff said. “The cable operators will stick their toe in the water, but I don’t see anything that will make this a big priority for them. Right now they are busy trying to convert analog customers to digital and reclaim bandwidth.”
Competitive offerings from AT&T and Verizon might be one reason for cable operators to have announced plans to deploy, but reduced cost structures down the road could be another motivation.
MoCA is one of the transport mechanisms for the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA), an emerging standard that allows TVs, set-top boxes, media servers, and mobile phones to share content and control each other.
DLNA has certified more than 5000 devices, including more than 400 television sets. The DLNA standard currently supports Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and MoCA, although no MoCA devices have been released yet.
Several MoCA set-tops and at least one gateway are in development, said Broadcom Technical Director Stephen Palm, who serves as treasurer of the DLNA Board of Directors. Comcast is a DLNA—and MoCA—supporter. DirecTV implemented DLNA in its HR21 set-top.
In the future, the combination of DLNA and MoCA could help operators lower the cost of residential equipment and widen the range of endpoints.
“Today the service provider has to provide one box per TV,” Palm said. “If the service provider provides a single DLNA media box for the home, then all of the DLNA devices in the house can get access to that. There are fewer pieces of hardware they have to provide, and secondly they can provide service to many more devices.”