Maximum PC Staff Sep 02, 2009

Netgear MOCA Coax Ethernet Adapter Kit MCAB1001

At A Glance

Gilligan's Island

Easily builds a secured, wired network using existing coax cable.


Doesn't work with satellite providers.

Turn coaxial cable outlets into a high-speed network connection

Netgear’s MOCA (short for Multimedia over Coax Alliance) adapter is the can solution to the can’t. If you can’t get a reliable Wi-Fi signal throughout your home and you can’t make an Ethernet cable run and you can’t tap your home’s electrical grid with a HomePlug Powerline adapter, than MOCA is the can.

Using existing standard cable coax wires, the Netgear MOCA adapter lets you turn your cable TV runs into a “home entertainment network.” What the hell is that? Since the adapter is built around passing data through your cable TV, it’s no surprise that MOCA wants to push its adoption as an easy way to get Internet connectivity to your set top box, game console, or media center PC.

Setup is Joe-six-pack friendly: Just unplug the coax cable from your TV set and plug it into the Netgear MOCA adapter. Run a second coax cable from the adapter to the TV. TV signals are passed through transparently, so your American Idol viewing won’t be disturbed. And if the signal is degraded you can actually change the frequency the adapter operates on.

The kit includes an adapter to plant near your router/modem and another to place near your set-top box or media center PC.

The included patch cable can be used to connect your game console or media center PC to the Fast Ethernet port on the back of the adapter. Power it up and go to the room where your router or modem is located. Now here’s the rub: Do you have a cable run there? If you don’t have a cable outlet in the same room as your router, you’re SOL. Fortunately, in the land of the couch potato, most new homes are prewired for cable TV. Run coax cable to the second Netgear MOCA adapter, run a patch cable to an open Ethernet port on your router or modem, and power up both. If you’re within the guidelines of a maximum cable run of 300 feet, you should be up and running.

The technology promises a theoretical 270Mb/s transfer speed, which is sufficient for high-def content. Using a Linksys Media Center Extender DMA2200, we streamed both standard-def material and high-def material using the Netgear MOCA adapter to our TV.

We also conducted a rudimentary file transfer to simulate how long it would take to move a file from a server to a media center PC. Using the Netgear MOCA, we moved a 2.4GB video file in about seven minutes. Switching to our 802.11g network, the same file transfer took about 13 minutes. Not bad, but certainly not Gigabit Ethernet. We didn’t have 802.11n capability on our network to test its speeds, but we suspect the MOCA’s transfer speeds are similar to the faster Wi-Fi version—with less of a security risk. Since the MOCA is hardwired and its range is fairly short—300 feet—someone would have to jack into your cable line to intercept signals. The packets on the MOCA adapter are also encrypted by default.

So what’s the catch? The biggest ding is the lack of satellite capability. Even though a satellite provider is a member of the Multimedia over Coax Alliance, MOCA devices do not currently work with satellite installations. D’oh! Second, there’s the cost. At $190 for two adapters, it’s certainly not a cheap way to build a home network.

But again, the Netgear MOCA adapter is really for the person who can’t get any other networking methods to work. For that person, the price may just be worth it.


Netgear MOCA Coax Ethernet Adapter Kit MCAB1001

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