10/19/07, By Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News
The Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) has ratified a new version of its home networking platform that promises speedier throughputs and some new QOS mechanisms that will allow "premium" content, including high-def video, to run unfettered on coax-based home networks.
The alliance plans to formally announce the new version, dubbed MoCA 1.1, on Monday in anticipation of the TelcoTV conference, set to run Oct. 23-25 in Atlanta.
Although the PHY rate of MoCA 1.0 and 1.1 will remain at 270 Mbit/s, the latest version is capable of supporting a net throughput of about 175 Mbit/s -- about 75 percent better than the 100 Mbit/s typically seen with MoCA 1.0, according to Dr. Anton Monk, chief technology officer of the alliance. He also serves as vice president of communications technology for Entropic Communications Inc. , a chipmaker and a MoCA founding member that filed for an initial public offering in late July. (See Entropic Wires Up an IPO.)
Another key feature of MoCA 1.1 is parameterized quality of service, a technique that manages bandwidth on the network and prioritizes multiple streams of high-definition content.
That capability is important, Monk says, because it addresses a concern service operators have had about delivering protected, premium HD video glitch-free to IP-capable set-tops via the MoCA-based home network. If a high-def movie, for example, requires 20 Mbit/s, the QOS manager on the system will lock down that amount of capacity on the MoCA network.
If there's a guarantee that those premium streams are identified, protected, and run at the intended bit rate, operators will feel more comfortable about opening up the MoCA network to other "personal" content, including photos and videos stored on a nearby PC or shows and movies piped in from the public Internet.
Service providers "are recognizing that different content will be flying around the house, and it will need to be protected in different ways," Monk says.
MoCA 1.1 is also designed with enough smarts to allocate bandwidth when guaranteed video streams hit peaks and valleys. If that video is under the peak, for example, the system will apply that unused capacity to lower-priority traffic.
The new version also expands the coverage of the network -- from eight nodes to 16 nodes -- for large homes that might have an excessive number of cable outlets and IP devices hanging from them.
Although dates aren't yet set in concrete, the alliance is shooting to conduct its first MoCA 1.1 certification wave by the end of the year. "It's a process that's going on in committee," Monk says.
Because the features in the 1.1 version require only software changes, the cost impact between that and the older version should be negligible, Monk says, noting that 1.1 will be backwards compatible with the original 1.0 version.
Although Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and EchoStar Communications Corp. are among MoCA's founding members, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ - message board) has been the most aggressive with MoCA, using it as the home networking centerpiece of its whole-home digital video recorder.
Brian Roberts, Comcast's chairman and CEO, noted during a second-quarter earnings call in July that the MSO has some multi-room trials underway but did pinpoint any deployment plans.
MoCA, which competes with other wire-based home networking platforms such as HomePlug A/V and HomePNA 3.1, has been gathering support, particularly among chipmakers. Of recent note, Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC - message board) joined MoCA as a contributor member earlier this month. (See Intel Goes Further Inside Cable.)