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MoCA Explained: Tips on Turning Coax into a True Wired Computer Network

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I’ve always recommended using network cables to extend a (Wi-Fi) home network. I still do.

However, when running new wires is impossible, MoCA, where available, is the second-best alternative. In ideal conditions — fairly easy to achieve — it can deliver a real Gigabit or even 2.5Gbps network connection, equivalent to the entry-level of Multi-Gig. And faster speeds are possible in the future.

You’ll find out in simple terms what MoCA is in this post and tips on building a successful wired network with it. This connection standard is not as straightforward in real life as in principle.

Dong’s note: Since the post on Powerline, I’ve gotten many requests to write about MoCA. This post results from my extensive trial with the MoCA 2.5 standard in multiple homes and offices over a year. I first published it on April 8, 2023, and updated it on May 15 to clarify things further.

MoCA adapter in action
MoCA explained: Here’s a MoCA 2.5 adapter in action.

MoCA: Simple yet complicated

Short for Multimedia over Coax Alliance, MoCA is another way to build a computer network by leveraging existing infrastructure. It’s similar to Powerline networking, which turns a home’s electrical wiring into network cables.

In MoCA’s case, the existing infrastructure is the coaxial cable, or coax, originally laid to deliver TV signals.

While MoCA can be great, it’s not great enough to install anew. If you remodel your home, it’s best to remove the coax wires and run network cables instead.

You can think of MoCA as the local area network (LAN) side of data-enabled coaxial wiring. On the other side — the wide area network (WAN) — we have Cable Internet (as opposed to Fiber-optic, which requires new wiring completely).

MoCA vs Powerline

Both standards deliver Ethernet data signals by leveraging existing wiring. MoCA uses coax cables, whereas Powerline uses electrical wires.

Powerline is ubiquitous — it’s available in all homes with electricity. MoCA is only available in those built with Cable TV in mind — new and modern homes no longer use legacy coax cables.

MoCA is reliable and can sustain at true Gigabit or multi-Gigabit in Full-Duplex.

Powerline is greatly susceptible to interference, wiring, breakers, etc., and always Half-Duplex — it generally can replace only Fast Ethernet (100Mbps) in bandwidth needs.

The MoCA evolution in brief

Like Powerline, MoCA has undergone a few revisions since MoCA 1.0 was first introduced in 2006. MoCA is initially also Half-Duplex, meaning data can travel one way at a time.

However, starting MoCA 2.5, first introduced in 2016 and became widely available a few years later, the standard features a Full-Duplex and, with that, becomes a true replacement for network cables.

Half-Duplex is like communicating via walkie-talkies, whereas Full-Duplex is a conversation over the phone.

A MoCA connection generally uses channels to deliver data signals. Each channel functions at a certain frequency, and the higher, the faster the data speed.

The initial standards (MoCA 1.0 and 1.1) use a single channel and caps at 175Mbps — that’s 100Mbps in real-world applications via a Fast Ethernet port. Starting with MoCA 2.0, the standard can bond two or more channels into one for higher bandwidth. MoCA 2.5 can bond up to 5 channels to deliver 2.5Gbps.

It’s important to note that using MoCA 2.5 doesn’t automatically give you the standard’s high speeds — 1.5Gbps, 2Gbps, or 2.5Gbps. That also depends on the network port of the hardware. Specifically, a MoCA 2.5 adapter with a Gigabit LAN port will deliver 1Gbps at most.

Considering the support for Full-Duplex, if you start with MoCA today, MoCA 2.5 is the way to go.

MoCA Adapter Network PortMoCA Adapter Coax Connector
MoCA explained: The two ends of a MoCA adapter.
This particular adapter features MoCA 2.5 but comes with a Gigabit port and, therefore, sustains at Gigabit.

MoCA standards

The table below summarizes the existing MoCA standards.

VersionNumber of
(bonded) Channels
Max Channel WidthMax Sustained Data RateMax NodesHalf/Full
Duplex
Network PortAdvanced Features
MoCA 1.0150MHz175Mbps8HalfEthernet
(100Mbps)
None
MoCA 1.1150MHz175Mbps16HalfEthernet
(100Mbps)
None
MoCA 2.01 or 2100MHz500Mbps, or 1Gbps16HalfGigabitPower Saving
MoCA 2.11 or 2100MHz500Mbps,
or 1Gbps
16HalfGigabitPower Saving
MoCA Protected Setup (MPS)
Management Proxy
Enhanced Privacy
Network Wid Beacon Power
Bridge Detection
MoCA 2.53, 4, or 5100MHz1.5Gbps,
2Gbps,
or 2.5Gbps
16FullGigabit or
Multi-Gig
(2.5GbE)
Same as MoCA 2.1
Current MoCA standards
MoCA 3.0 — capable of 10GbE — is still under development with no estimate of availability yet.

Mixing hardware in MoCA

Generally, newer MoCA standards are backward compatible with the older ones. Additionally, adapters from different vendors are slated to work with one another. In reality, it’s best to use the same adapters throughout.

When you use different adapters, the MoCA connection speed will be that of the slowest one.

If you have to mix adapters, use adapters from the same vendors (different standards) or the same standard (different vendors). In my experience, mixing adapters of different MoCA standards and vendors can be problematic. It might work, or it might not. Your luck will vary.

Speaking of luck, in some situations, using the same adapters can still be hit or miss due to wiring and hardware setup requirements.

How to set up a MoCA network: Principle vs reality

In principle, MoCA is quite simple and is similar to Powerline.

The objective is to turn the existing coax wiring into network cables by adding MoCA adapters at different coax jacks around the home.

The rule is to get one adapter for each wired device (a.k.a MoCA node) plus one that links all of them to the network — this adapter is often called the main node (or controller node).

The controller node decides the bandwidth of the entire MoCA network — the rest of the nodes will share the controller node’s bandwidth when connecting to the main network or the Internet. However, MoCA supports direct peer-to-peer connections. So, two MoCA nodes can talk to each other without using the bandwidth of the controller node.

There are routers with built-in MoCA, such as the Asus ZenWifi Hybrid XC5. In this case, the main node adapter is no longer needed unless you want to change the standard.

Moca Connector
Moca adapter setup: Here’s a standard MoCA adapter hooked to a coax line (top) to turn it into the extension of the yellow network cable. The MoCA connection is complete when there’s another adapter at the other end of the coax line. This particular adapter can deliver a 2.5Gbps data link.

MoCA setup: The simple idea

Here are the standard steps to set up any MoCA network:

  1. Connect the first MoCA adapter’s network port to your router (or switch) using a network cable and its coax connector to a service jack. This adapter will work as the main node.
  2. Connect another MoCA adapter to another coax jack and a wired device (such as a desktop computer or a Wi-Fi Access Point).
  3. Plug the adapters into power.

Repeat the process from step #2 to add up to 14 more nodes.

And that’s it! The adapters will turn the coax cables between them into the network cables to make the wired devices part of the home network. That’s the idea, anyway. And in many cases, that’s all you need to do to make things work.

But sometimes, things don’t work for reasons beyond the obvious such as a wire has been cut or disconnected.

Making sure your coax wires are intact and connected is the first step in building a MoCA-based network — that’s a given.

Let’s look closer.

MoCA setup with diagrams: The devil in the details

The coax wiring varies from home to home. In most cases, the Cable drop enters the house at one corner. After that, the Main Splitter immediately splits the line into multiple coax wires that go to different parts of the home and are further divided via more splitters.

TV and broadband signals are lenient with splitters, you can use splitters of any type, almost as many as needed, and cascade them however you want. For MoCA to work (well), things are more restrictive.

The tabs below include two diagrams for typical as-is wiring vs best-practice (re)wiring that will work for MoCA.

MoCA Typical Setup (as-is)

This setup is applicable when you don’t want to do any rewiring. It’s where the chances of success vary greatly.

MoCA Network Mix Typical
This setup adds two wired computers — or any wired devices, such as switches or Wi-Fi access points — to the network via coax cables. You can add another MoCA device at the Main Splitter or Splitter 1. The MoCA PoE Filter is recommended.

There are two scenarios:

  1. If you don’t use Cable TV or broadband: Disconnect the service line from the Main Splitter. This is the best scenario since the entire coax network is available for MoCA exclusively.
  2. If you do use Cable TV or broadband: A MoCA Point-of-Entry (PoE) filter is recommended at the entry point to keep data signals from leaking in or out of the home. (This scenario tends to be hit or miss as-is — check the other tab for more options.)

Additionally, this setup only works if all of the following requirements are met:

  • Behind the Main Splitter, there’s no more than one layer of additional splitters. In the diagram above, things will stop working as intended if you add one more MoCA device to Splitter 3. (In practice, this splitter should be removed or replaced by a coax coupler.) To increase the number of MoCA nodes, use large splitters, such as this 8-way splitter, instead of stacking them.
  • There is no one-way coax amplifier or amplified splitter within your home. If you use an amplified splitter, replace it. (If you’re unsure, replace all splitters — they are relatively affordable.) Additionally, all splitters should have a frequency range above 1,000 MHz — higher than 1,500MHz is ideal. Technically, a lower-frequency splitter might work, but it often doesn’t.
  • You don’t use coax cables for non-Cable TV signals like DirecTV, satellite Internet, DSL, or anything else. MoCA works best as the only application on the coax wiring and can share the same wiring simultaneously only with Cable TV and/or Cable broadband Internet.
  • For the best MoCA performance, the maximum cable length between the Main Splitter and the farthest coax jack is 300 feet (90 meters).
MoCA Best-Practice Setup (rewiring required)

This setup applies to those with TV or Cable broadband and is willing to do some rewriting.

MoCA Network Best Practice with rewiring
This setup adds two wired computers — or any wired devices, such as switches or Wi-Fi access points — to the network via coax cables. You can add one more MoCA device at Splitter 2 in this case. The MoCA PoE Filter is optional.

The key to this setup is to separate MoCA from TV or broadband signals. For this setup to work, keep the following in mind:

  • The Splitter 2 connected to the Main Node adapter is the only one used for MoCA. To increase the number of MoCA nodes, replace it with a larger splitter, such as this 8-way splitter. You can’t add another one on top.
  • This splitter should be MoCA-ready. Specifically, it should have a frequency range above 1,000 MHz — higher than 1,500MHz is ideal.
  • For the best MoCA performance, the maximum cable length between MoCa adapters is 300 feet (90 meters).

And that’s it. Your MoCA network should now work.

Tip

Undecided between two different adapters of the same specs? Get the less expensive one. Besides the hardware specs, MoCA adapters are generally very similar in functionality.

CoaxHigh Frequency Splitter
Here’s an excellent coax MoCA-enabled splitter. Note its frequency range.

MoCA: The takeaway

MoCA, where available, can be an excellent alternative to network cables. But it may have a learning curve.

Here are a few recap bullet points to better the chance of success:

  • Always get adapters from the same vendor and of the same standard (MoCA 2.5 or later is recommended). Also, mind the Ethernet port. A MoCA 2.5 adapter only delivers top speeds if it has a 2.5GbE network port — many have a Gigabit port, but that is enough in most cases.
  • Use splitters with a large frequency range designed for MoCA.
  • To host more devices, use large splitters instead of stacking smaller ones over two layers within the home.
  • It’s best to use MoCA for the network signals alone by:
    • If you don’t use TV or Cable broadband service: Disconnect the service line at the entry point.
    • If you have TV or Cable broadband service:
      • Separate the wiring and use MoCA independently (best). or
      • Install a MoCA PoE Filter at the entry point (not ideal).

The easiest and best way to use MoCA successfully is to find the two ends (two jacks) of an intact coax wire for the two adapters(*). And often, that single MoCA link is all you’d need to have a mesh system with a reliable wired backhaul or place your standalone router at the ideal location within the home.

Tip

(*) Replacing the splitter that hosts two separate coax cables with a coupler will turn them into a single line ideal for MoCA — it’s separate from the rest of the coax network used for the original purposes, such as TV or broadband.

If you live in a home with extensive coax wiring and want to build a MoCA-based home network, picking the correct coax splitters and stacking them correctly is the key — that’s especially true if you don’t want to do any rewiring. Still, since it’s hard to trace the wires behind the walls, your chance of success will vary.

Finally, nuance is the key. Just because the standard can handle up to 16 nodes doesn’t mean you want to use them all. It’s best to keep the number of nodes below five and use network cables when possible.

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38 thoughts on “MoCA Explained: Tips on Turning Coax into a True Wired Computer Network”

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  1. Hi Dong,

    I have a PoE filter at the point of entry of the COAX cable entering the house. Do you think its necessary to have another PoE filter before the cable modem to limit interference with teh DOCSIS 3.1 modem? Or is this not necessary?

    Also, I have a coax splitter but the range is 5-2450mhz, would i have any issues with MoCA 2.5 using this high of range? I can still return it if 5-1675mhz splitter is more ideal.

    Reply
    • If the splitter is in the frequency range then it should work fine. There is no need for wo PoE filters. In fact my cause issues in some cases.

      Reply
  2. I’m attempting to choose between Moca 2.0 and Moca 2.5, and the lower-latency full duplex ability of 2.5 appeals. However, I can’t find anywhere else stating it’s full duplex, even mocalliance.org. Can you provide a source where you found 2.5 to be full-duplex?
    Thanks

    Reply
    • I got the info from a vendor and the connection was indeed fast during testing so I took their word for it. If you’re so adamant about this, it’s best to run network cables. I don’t use MoCA for myself.

      Reply
      • I’d love to, and have fished many a cable through walls, but sometimes construction makes it really difficult (to be brief).
        Which vendor was it? Screenbeam or goCoax?
        Thank you

        Reply
        • I don’t remember, Don. It’s been a while since that conversation. Sorry, I can’t be of any more help on this quest. You can take my word for it or not. In your case, it doesn’t hurt to go with the latest standard.

          Reply
  3. I am hostile to coax cable, simply because it is stiff and difficult to work with. Cat5e and Cat6 cables allow transmission as fast as I can afford to pay for. Yes, my ISP uses coax cable, so a cable modem is needed but everything beyond it uses twisted pair or wireless. That, of course includes connection from the cable modem to the router. For TV I use streaming. My ISP occasionally interferes delivery of a video news service it owns
    . But my wife and I also subscribe to four news services, including two of the three national “newspapers,” one regional service and one Michigan and local area-oriented service. And, of course, Dong’s site.

    Reply
  4. Dong, do you have any specific brand of adaptor that you prefer over the others? Also, I read in an AMZN review that some adaptors have a web GUI to test speed/ performance in real time. Not sure how that is even possible. Can you eleborate?

    Thanks again!

    Reply
  5. Can you use a MOCA adaptor between the optical modem and the router? Optical modem – MOCA – coaxial cable – MOCA – Router.

    Reply
  6. Great article. {…}

    Secondly, I can’t add my filter to the demarcation point (in the ISP’s box outside). So I put it on the outlet that’s coming into my condo/home. Do you recommend putting it somewhere else? I’m security-minded with many neighbors, so I want anything traffic leaking in or out.

    Reply
  7. My house is currently wired with coax, but we don’t have active cable TV. It’s all streaming for us. Due to this, would we still need filters in place?

    Also, we have a few concentrations of devices at remote corners of our house. I don’t see any reason why not, but just want to check. There should be no issue with using a small 4 or 8 port GigE switch just before a MoCA adapter to wire in our TV/AppleTV/PS4/etc, right?

    Thanks for all your valuable info!

    Reply
    • Give this post a *good* read, David. You might want to do that on a desktop browser (and not a phone) to see things clearly.

      Reply
    • Nope! You won’t need filters, the filters are for cable TV (=
      No issues with small switch at the end of the corners of the house too. You’re good to go!

      Reply
  8. Hi Dong,
    Is it possible to connect mesh routers via both ethernet cables and a MOCA adapter? The setup is as follows:
    Verizon FIOS (both TV and internet). I ran an ethernet cable from FIOS router to my own ASUS Zen Wifi router (both in basement) and use the ASUS as my main router(double NAT situation). I then ran an ethernet cable from the main ASUS router to a satellite router on my first floor. The issue I am having is the coverage on the second floor is spotty (I also have a satellite router on the second floor which has a wireless backhaul at the moment). It is not really feasible for me to run an ethernet wire from the first to second floor, however coax wiring is already installed throughout the house including the second floor. Is it possible to use a MOCA adapter to connect the satellite router on the second floor? Or would it not work mixing ethernet and MOCA as backhaul?

    Reply
    • MoCA, when used, is actually a network cable Chris. In other words, add two MoCA adapters to the two ends of a coax cable and that cable is now a network cable. You can’t “mix” the two since they are one.

      For your case, the single connection I mentioned at end of the post applies. Good luck!

      Reply
      • Thanks for the reply. I tried to give it a go, but in all likelihood I’m running in the splitter issue you mentioned in your article as nothing worked after I connected both MOCA adapters. Oh well, maybe one day if I remodel my house, I’ll be able to run an ethernet cable from floor 1 to 2.

        Reply
  9. Hi Dong,
    New Verizon Fios user. I was given free MoCA Adapter a month later (promo) for getting 1 Gig internet. Went from 200 mbs to 1 Gig for less money. Went down Double NAT trail on purpose (re read your posts beforehand and was ok with the projected slowdowns) to isolate my RING, IoT stuff etc. I’m using Asus AX86U and Asus AX88U for my inside NAT. Pre MoCA I had 900 and 900 (variable) up and down, on the double NAT. For my use, that’s great! Installed MoCA when it arrived to re arrange and utilize the Verizon WiFi Node and increase my Ring WiFi coverage etc…..and speeds crashed….like really crashed to 30 up and 2 down. Checked all settings, rebooted, reset etc. Mediocre results. I removed the Moca and went back to previous locations of Verizon 3200 Nodes (main router is CRA1000A). Now fluctuates between 500 to 900 down and 50 to 150 up. I know its rude to ask for free advice, but my question is my MoCA was 2.5, the splitters given by Verizon were 2.0 ghz. Are the splitters gonna make that much of a difference? Would that affect the Up and Down speeds behind the 2nd NAT? Been thinking about a Firewalla Gold to restructure and fix the Double NAT, but not sure if Verizon Fios will play nice.
    Thanks for your time

    Reply
    • It looks like MoCA is not necessary in your case, Stephen, and when you used the adapters, they seamed to function at Fast Ethernet for one reason or another. It’s impossible for me to have the correct assessment of your situation.

      Reply
  10. Hi Dong, thank you for writing this article! I’ve been reviewing this and other sites/forums to try to understand MoCA in preparation for my own set up. One thing I’ve seen recommended in several scenarios is a second PoE filter located at the modem. In which cases is that second filter needed?
    I’m currently using a Coda 4582 bridged to an ASUS ET8 in router mode, and I’ll be using MoCA to establish a wired backhaul to the second ET8 unit (the wireless backhaul is not very useful, as you’ve alluded to in your ET8 article). I have a PoE filter at the service line entrance to the home, but I’m wondering if I would need a second one at the 4582, and also want to understand what the purpose of that second filter is.

    Reply
    • No, you won’t need a second filter at the modem, Wade. It won’t do anything. The filter is to keep outside MoCA signals (such as those of your neighbors) from entering your home. In most cases, no filter is needed. It’s a recommended device, just in case.

      Reply
  11. I had originally tried MOCA 2.5 in my house but discovered that my coax cable isn’t very good. I can’t even handle a single split from where the cable comes into the house; it causes too much signal degradation at the cable modem even when using the correct types of splitters. So had to settle for wireless backhaul on Asus ET12 which has worked pretty good. Someday I’ll run network cable if I ever need it though.

    Reply
    • You might just replace that splitter with a better one, James. I’ve run into this a lot. But no, nothing beats real network cables.

      Reply
    • Even a splitter with a high enough frequency (1675 MHz and beyond) may degrade cable modem signals and thus speed (which is fed back thru the router to the MoCA adapter).

      Have you tried a cable tap like the one at https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0UVW2VU4
      instead of a splitter? I bought mine for less than $10 including tax & shipping.

      It just has .5 dB loss at the “pass thru” to the cable modem (should barely notice a difference) and the “tap” (out to the MoCA adapter) loses 10 dB, but most say they still get great MoCA signal/speed. The important thing is not to degrade your cable modem signal from the get go.

      Reply
      • Thanks for the tip! Unfortunately I sold my MOCA adapters so I can’t try it. My all-wireless ET12 setup has been working great so I haven’t needed the MOCA anyway. If I ever do want a wired setup I’d probably just run outdoor-rated ethernet cable from one side of the house to the other anyway.

        Reply
  12. Very good article. I have recommended MoCA to friends and set some up devices in my family member’s homes. I also remind people to make sure they have a POE filter to make sure the MoCA signal doesn’t escape their home (usually installed at the point of demarcation). Often I hear people complain their MoCA device is having issues. People don’t realize all the splitters need to be MoCA rated and the coaxial lines in the wall rated RG6 vs RG59 usually perform better with MoCA. I have reached speeds on my laptop over 1400 mbps down using MoCA devices. Great alternative to ethernet.

    Reply
  13. Thanks for the well written and informative article! I knew some MoCA stuff, but the advice on frequency recommendations and splitter advice are things I had not considered.

    Question – I see affiliate links for splitters, but I’m surprised no links to recommended or reviewed MoCA adapters? Not even the ones in the article? Perhaps I’m misinterpreting the “extended trial” part of the article to mean that a review article or recommendations of MoCA 2.5 adapters is still in progress?

    Reply
    • I see no question in your comment, Gordon, just assumptions. I don’t think you know what I do with my time, or are entitled to have any say about it, so take or leave it?

      As for affiliate links, that’s the default on this site.

      Reply
  14. I’m gonna use this for my mesh backhaul – I don’t have ZenWiFi hybrid XC5 and am only thinking in a couple or so when I move into WiFi 7. am not in any rush, might bide my time to see if any moca 3 hardware hits the market by then πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • Good call, David! It’ll work well if you keep the splitters in check. They are relatively inexpensive, and some MoCA adapters include them.

      Reply

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