What is a MoCA Adapter? The Definitive Guide

Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) is a technology that uses your home’s existing coaxial cables to create a home network. This helps you spread a wired internet connection through your home using coax ports.
What is a MOCA adapter

I want to find the best network equipment to optimize my online experience at home. So I found all the information I could on MoCA adapters and compiled it into this guide.

To understand MoCA adapters, I’ll cover areas like:

  • What a MoCA adapter is
  • How they work
  • How they’re different from routers
  • When to use them
  • Different types
  • Advantages of MoCA
  • Whether you need it
  • How to set them up

Let’s dive in.

What Is a MoCA Adapter?

Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) serves as a standard to define how internet signals can travel over coaxial cables using MoCA adapters. MoCA adapters make it possible to use coax cables for ethernet connections.

Almost all networking devices will support MoCA adapters. Sometimes, routers, modems, and Optical Network Terminal​s (ONT) will have MoCA.

How Does a MoCA Adapter Work?

Here’s a scenario for you. You have a cable modem in your living room, yet for some reason, you want an Ethernet connection in your master bedroom.

Your master bedroom doesn’t have an Ethernet port, but it does have a coaxial port.

You’d need two MoCA adapters. Or a MoCA adapter and a router or modem with MoCA built-in. You’ll connect it to the living room coaxial port with the first adapter (or your router/modem).

Take your second adapter and connect it to the coaxial port in your master bedroom. Run an Ethernet cable from the second MoCA adapter and connect it to whatever device you want to connect in your room.

The MoCA adapter in the living room will transmit network packets through your home’s coaxial wiring and into the MoCA adapter in your bedroom. Then the adapter will send the signal through the Ethernet cable into your device.

They’re plug-and-play devices. Without troubleshooting, you’d likely spend five minutes setting them up.

MoCA Adapter Use Cases

Since MoCA adapters can provide an Ethernet connection to any room in your home with a coax port, you can get creative. You could use these adapters to provide an Ethernet connection to a computer or console in another room.

But what if you don’t have Ethernet ports on your devices?

You can make your Wi-Fi more reliable. You can plug Ethernet cables from MoCA adapters into mesh Wi-Fi nodes if you have the money. Or, to save money, you can do the same thing, but with Wi-Fi extenders.

Either way, having a local area network (LAN) connection with your nodes or extenders will optimize how they extend wireless signal coverage throughout your home.

MoCA Adapters vs. Other Devices

Here’s a list of other devices you could use home networking and how MoCA adapters compare [1, 2]:

TechnologyReliabilitySupported SpeedsDistance SupportedLatency
MoCAVery2.5 Gbps (MoCA 2.5)300 ft (92 m)3.6 ms (MoCA 2.0)
Wi-FiMixed1,300 Mbps ( 5 GHz band)2.4 GHz band
Outdoors: 300 ft
Indoors: 150 ft (46 m)
1 ms
PowerlineVaries200 Mbps984 ft (300 m)3 ms
EthernetExtremely40 Gbps295 ft (89 m)<1 ms
This table compares the differences among MoCA adapters, Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and Powerline adapters.

Obviously, Ethernet offers the highest supported speeds and the lowest latency, but its installation and supported distance put it behind MoCA and Powerline.

Powerline adapters rely on your home’s existing electrical wiring to transmit network signals throughout your home. While these adapters are more flexible than MoCA adapters, they come with several weaknesses.

For starters, device compatibility. You may have a difficult time finding different pairs of compatible Powerline devices. Then there’s the electrical wiring itself.

All adapters must connect through the same electrical circuit for Powerline adapters to work. And that electrical circuit must also have good wiring. Otherwise, you’ll suffer from slower internet speeds.

And there are the supported speed limits. Powerline adapters support only 200 Mbps. You can’t use these on fiber internet plans.

That brings us to Wi-Fi.

Do I need to bring up Wi-Fi’s weaknesses? While it’s flexible, it’s susceptible to obstacles and interference from other wireless signals.

MoCA adapters did fall behind with latency. However, an acceptable latency for competitive gaming is between 5 and 60 ms [3].

Types of MoCA

Here’s a quick breakdown of all the available MoCA types [4]:

MoCA 2.0MoCA 2.0 BondedMoCA 2.5MoCA 3.0
Throughput500 Mbps1 Gbps2.5 Gbps10 Gbps
Latency (ms)3.63.6<52.5
Channel Width (MHz)100100100400
Year Introduced2010201620162018
This table compares the differences among different MoCA versions.

Throughout this section, I’ll cover each type of MoCA technology more in-depth.

There’s also MoCA 1.0 and 1.1, but they’re obsolete.

MoCA 2.0

Starting in this era of MoCA technology, we began to see low power modes to reduce energy consumption. It also offers a significantly higher throughput than MoCA 1.1, which provides 175 Mbps.

Then there’s MoCA 2.0 bonded, which doubles MoCA’s supported throughput to 1 Gbps. This upgrade made the technology more practical for fiber internet plans.

Both bonded and regular MoCA 2.0 adapters are backward compatible with 1.1 adapters.

MoCA 2.5

These are the latest versions of MoCA that are available. They more than doubled the supported throughput and added features like:

  • Network-wide Beacon Power: better control of peak signal power
  • Management proxy: node management
  • MoCA protected setup (MPS): makes it easier to set up new nodes
  • Enhanced privacy: uses a longer passport between MoCA nodes

You can use MoCA 2.5 with both 1.1 and 2.0 adapters.

MoCA 3.0

MoCA 3.0 isn’t available at the time of writing. This standard should have silicon available later in 2022 or somewhere in 2023. They have a max network throughput of 10 Gbps.

Yet, there’s no news on whether we’ll find MoCA 3.0 adapters.

Advantages of Using a MoCA Adapter

MoCA adapters fare well against other methods of spreading the internet throughout your home. Throughout this section, I’ll cover various benefits you’ll get when using MoCA adapters.

Improves Gameplay

In the table I crafted earlier, I mentioned that MoCA adds 3.6 milliseconds of latency. While that’s higher than other network connection methods, you still have a more reliable connection than Wi-Fi and Powerline.

Cost-efficient

If you want to install an Ethernet cable in your home, it’ll cost $0.25–$0.70 per foot of cable [4]. That’s just for the cables. Then you’d need to consider installing the Ethernet port, additional labor costs, and the time you’ll spend dealing with this mess.

Over 90% of North American homes have coaxial in place [5]. That means you’re repurposing existing infrastructure.

A pair of MoCA adapters will cost you at most $100. Worst case scenario, you may need to spend an additional $20 on a coaxial tester or a multimeter to ensure your coax ports have a signal.

Better for Streaming

Unreliable wireless signals can lead to buffering when you’re streaming. These interruptions can come from wireless signals from baby monitors, water running through your pipes, and other obstacles.

Coaxial cables have thick shielding, which helps protect them from electromagnetic interference (EMI). And since they’re, well, cables, they don’t face the same challenges wireless signals do.

MoCA adapters can support throughput up to 2.5 Gbps. That’s likely more than you’ll need for a long time. To watch Netflix in 4K UHD, you’d only need 25 Mbps for a buffer-free experience [6].

Plug-and-Play

You don’t need a bachelor’s degree in networking to set up a MoCA network.

These adapters don’t have many steps. You plug in a power adapter, then an Ethernet and coaxial cable. Wait for the lights to glow, and you have a MoCA network.

You don’t need to run Ethernet cables through your home. And you don’t have to move around a Wi-Fi router until you find a place where it’ll have the best signal.

MoCASec Security

MoCASec gives your network an additional layer of security with point-to-point link privacy [7]. This type of protocol makes it so only two routers can communicate without any intermediaries. It can also provide data compression, transmission encryption, and authentication.

You can easily integrate MoCASec with EasyMesh Wi-Fi networks.

Do I Need a MoCA Adapter?

If you have disposable income and active coaxial ports in your home, go for it. But that’s too vague. You want to know the details.

If you have fiber optic internet and don’t have Ethernet ports throughout your home, you’ll want a MoCA adapter to spread your connection to different rooms. HOWEVER, since fiber optic uses fiber cables and not coax, you have limited options.

You’ll need a FiOS or other type of network device that’s MoCA compatible [8].

These adapters maximize your network’s efficiency. First off, there’s dealing with Wi-Fi dead zones in your home.

You can use MoCA adapters to connect mesh Wi-Fi nodes in different rooms to enhance their reach. If you don’t want to deal with mesh Wi-Fi, you can also use these adapters to boost your Wi-Fi extenders.

Then you have access to an Ethernet connection throughout your home. You don’t have to run cables through or along your walls with these adapters.

How Many MoCA Adapters Do I Need?

To create a MoCA network, you need at least a couple of MoCA-enabled devices. Depending on how many devices you want to give an Ethernet connection to, you’ll need more.

If you have a modem or router that supports MoCA, you’ll need a single MoCA adapter. To find out whether your device supports MoCA, look for a coaxial port with ‘MoCA’ above it.

Otherwise, you’ll need two MoCA adapters.

If you’re in an apartment or a small home with only a couple of coaxial ports, stick with two adapters. But if you’re in an office or large home, you’ll need as many MoCA adapters as your building can support.

For instance, if you have five rooms—each has a coaxial port—and you want to connect devices via Ethernet in those rooms, you’ll need five adapters. If you have a router or modem with MoCA enabled, you’ll need four adapters.

Can I Use MoCA Instead of a Modem?

MoCA only provides Ethernet over coax. Whereas a modem sends internet signals to your home by using Data Over Cable Service Interface Specifications (DOCSIS). Because of this reality, you cannot replace your modem with a MoCA adapter.

Some modems have MoCA built-in, though. Both devices can also coexist over the same network.

How To Connect a MoCA Adapter

Hear me out. Before connecting a MoCA adapter, you’ll want to consider using a MoCA filter. They’re cheap devices you screw onto your coaxial splitters.

These devices prevent cross-interference from other MoCA devices and DOCSIS connections. In other words, they can help reduce latency and enhance your network’s security.

Anyway.

Test your coaxial port for internet signal. You can do this with a coaxial tool. If you don’t want to buy an extra tool, plug in your modem and ensure all lights are green.

Check your router or modem for a coaxial port with the words ‘MoCA’ above it. If you see this word, you have a MoCA-compatible network device and need a single MoCA adapter.

If not, you’ll need two MoCA adapters.

With either your first MoCA adapter or your MoCA-enabled network device, you’ll want to connect it to a coaxial port using a coax cable.

If you bought a MoCA filter, you’ll need to find where the main coax cable connects with your home’s coaxial wiring. Usually you’ll find this in the cable box next to your utility box.

Disconnect the coaxial cable connected to your coax splitter. Screw the MoCA filter onto your splitter and ensure it’s snug. Afterward, attach the coax cable to the other end of your MoCA filter.

Easy.

If you’re using two MoCA adapters, grab an Ethernet cable and connect the first adapter to your router/modem or router.

Now plug your first MoCA adapter into an outlet.

Grab your second MoCA adapter, an Ethernet cable, and a second coax cable and go to the second coaxial port. Don’t forget to test that coax port for signal.

Repeat the first steps. Connect MoCA to your coaxial port and power outlet, then use an Ethernet cable to connect your MoCA and device.

You should see blinking or solid lights on the ‘Power’ and ‘Coax/MoCA’ indicators. If not, unplug your devices to clear their short-term memory. They may have accidentally stored an error.

Wrapping Up

MoCA adapters make it so you can extend your Ethernet connection throughout your home by using coaxial ports.

These adapters have significant advantages over other devices, like lower latency and higher throughput support. They’re also simple to set up. But you need two adapters—or one adapter and one network device.

Use an extender if you’re using a MoCA adapter to optimize your Wi-Fi coverage yet don’t want to resort to mesh. It’s difficult finding a good Wi-Fi extender, so we compiled a list of the best ones available. Check them out.

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