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Verizon: MoCA Needs Some Speed

Cable Digital News
11-16-07 � Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

AUSTIN, Texas -� Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ - message board) says the Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) should make the throughput for its home networking technology specification at least four times faster than it is today.

To keep pace with in-home capacity requirements, the next generation of MoCA must support about 400 Mbit/s in less than two years, according to Mark Wegleitner, Verizon's CTO and senior VP of technology, who spoke here Thursday morning at the first annual MoCA technology conference.

Hitting that number will take some serious engineering. The throughput for the MoCA 1.0 and the coming 1.1 version is 270 Mbit/s, with an average, usable, net throughput of approximately 100 Mbit/s for 1.0, and roughly 175 Mbit/s for 1.1, a spec that MoCA ratified just last month. (See MoCA Upgraded .)

MoCA CTO Dr. Anton Monk did not pinpint the PHY rate necessary to achieve net throughput of 400 Mbit/s, but acknowledged that the home networking scheme will require a wider band. The channel bandwidth for the existing versions of MoCA is 50 MHz. But simply quadrupling that bandwidth might not be necessary if the Alliance can squeeze more usable MAC capacity from MoCA's theoretical PHY throughput.

A loftier speed mark is just one new element MoCA is considering for 2.0. The Alliance has not determined, or at least shared publicly, what other new or enhanced features it might include. (See MoCA 2.0 .)

Although Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Cox Communications Inc. , and EchoStar Communications Corp. are all founding MoCA members, none have stated plans for a massive rollout. Comcast, which could begin to deploy multi-room DVRs in some markets by the third quarter of 2008, has not even selected its home networking backbone technology. Serious adoption for MoCA by these providers might be slowed if they opt to wait for the added benefits of 2.0. (See Comcast Plots Multi-Room DVR.)

Verizon, meanwhile, is well down the MoCA road.

According to Wegleitner, Verizon has more than 3 million MoCA devices installed in FiOS TV customer homes.

Considering the telco's deployment and customer ramps, that number will only continue to rise. Verizon ended the third quarter with 717,000 FiOS TV subs and is adding about 3,200 new video customers per day. On the high end, the company forecasts having 4 million FiOS TV subs by 2010.

MoCA, he said, "is a critical part of our... total network architecture."

Today, the managed FiOS TV networking environment uses two discrete MoCA networks -� one that communicates with the optical network terminal (ONT), and another that talks to set-tops and supports multi-room DVR and apps such as "widgets," an interactive, IP-based feature that feeds weather, news, and other data to the customer's TV screen.

Wegleitner also addressed Verizon's video plans and its eventual roadmap toward an all-IP environment.

Today, Verizon delivers broadcast video via an RF overlay, similar to cable's approach, but uses IP to pipe in video-on-demand (VOD) content and widget data. Eventually, Verizon plans to introduce an IP video hub office and eliminate the analog transmission package. In "phase three," the company will use IP to deliver VOD, interactive capabilities, and a few broadcast channels. The fourth phase will be a full migration to IPTV multicast and the elimination of the overlay.

Wegleitner did not give a time frame for reaching that final step in the strategy, but emphasized that Verizon is not in a great hurry to do so. "The migration to [all] IPTV will be at a very measured pace," he said.