When it comes to extending your home network, nothing beats a wire. Modern ethernet connections can send and receive data at speeds equal to or faster than one gigabit per second, making for speedy file transfers both inside the home and back and through high speed internet connections. Unfortunately most homes lack ethernet wiring to make those connections possible. But there is a way to get ethernet speeds and reliability through the same wiring your cable television service uses through the use of a MoCA adapter. 

Disclosure: I discovered this tech on my own and bought a few adapters, but later the MoCA Alliance reached out and sponsored some of the videos you will see below.

How does MoCA work?

MoCA works by “bridging” ethernet devices together through the use of cable television coax wiring. MoCA 2.0 class adapters can deliver gigabit speeds for both sending and receiving data and will not interfere with existing cable television or satellite service. Many adapters, like the ActionTec (affiliate link) adapters featured in the above video, have a passthrough for cable boxes or televisions.  If you’ve “cut the cord” and no longer using your cable television service the adapters will work over your dormant wiring without having to renew your cable subscription. The interview above has all the information you need to know about how MoCA technology works and all the features it offers.

I recommend buying at least two adapters to start, as one adapter will need to be plugged into your router and cable TV wiring so that additional adapters can get on the local network and Internet. Each subsequent adapter added to the network will automatically detect the others and allow for instant communication between them and the rest of the network. ActionTec also sells a Wi-Fi extender box (affiliate link) that provides two ethernet ports along with a Wi-Fi access point:

Gaming with MoCA:

For gamers that rely on low latency and fast internet connections, wired ethernet is often the best way to connect your console or gaming PC to the Internet. The reason is that Wi-Fi performance will vary based on variety of conditions including how far the console is from the access point, radio interference, and other Wi-Fi traffic competing for the connection. Because MoCA is a hard wired solution with a gigabit of bandwidth in both directions, gaming performance is much more consistent often with only a few extra milliseconds of latency versus an ethernet connection. In this video, I compare gaming over WiFi using a mesh system vs using a MoCA adapter to hard-wire the gaming laptop to a router.

MoCA vs Powerline Network Extension:

MoCA technology is not the only way to extend a network using alternative wiring. There are a number of inexpensive power line network adapters on the market that use the electrical wiring in your home to transmit and receive data. We found in the below comparison video that MoCA significantly outperforms these power line solutions.

MoCA is very flexible as it can act as both a primary network connection for devices and as reliable “backend” for wireless mesh systems that support a hard wired connection between them. In the below video I demonstrate the performance gains of using MoCA to interconnect mesh access points versus using a wireless connection between them:

MoCA really is the next best thing to a direct ethernet connection between rooms. Soon consumers will be able to buy devices based on the MoCA 2.5 standard that delivers 2.5 gigabits per second for both sending and receiving. It is a good alternative to running ethernet wiring and delivers similar performance.

Sarah Miner contributed to the production of the videos.