Wireless alternatives to home networking offer the benefit of portability. The user can receive content anywhere in the house. However, high definition video is a challenge due to a number of factors including building materials, interference with other signals, and the general nature of the technology, which does not provide the stability for consistently reliable distribution of HD video around the home.
Wired alternatives tend to be more stable and generally provide the reliability required for HD, gaming, over-the-top, content sharing, and high speed Internet access.
So which is the best?
Phoneline and powerline are ubiquitous throughout the home. These mediums are more than adequate for voice, data and smart energy type applications. They are also prone to interference and generally are unable to sustain the reliable bandwidth needed for a whole home DVR solution or any HD video content distribution.
Coax, on the other hand, was designed for video and is found where the homeowner is most likely to watch TV. Coax is inherently secure because it is a shielded medium. While coax does not offer the ubiquity of phoneline or powerline, where outlets are in every room, coax outlets are generally found where you watch TV and consume entertainment. Since TV is a lean back experience, rooms such as the living room, den or bedroom, are generally where you “lean back” and watch TV.
More than 90 percent of all homes in the US have coax already installed. So with coax, there are no new wires to install and no holes to punch in the walls. The best medium for watching TV is already in the house.
Essentially there are two metrics for measuring performance. One is called the theoretical data rate and the other is the actual data rate. The former is usually listed on the package but is NEVER actually realized. The latter is the rate you are looking for to measure the true performance. Ask the vendor or the sales staff if they know the actual data rate. If they refer to the number on the package, start walking.
MoCA certified products offer 175 megabytes per second. Actual data rate. Guaranteed.
An analogy is if you drop a call on your cell phone, you can redial and finish the conversation. Annoying, but the communication is completed. Not so with video. Glitches, artifacts, and latencies all disrupt the movie or program and the experience is unsatisfactory.
The MAC rate is the one that is important. It is the actual throughput that is realized. Pay TV operators design network topologies around actual, not theoretical, data rates. It is what speed you get at home.
When the packaging states that the product inside is capable of 200 Mbps (Megabytes per second) data rates, for instance, that is the PHY rate, not the MAC rate, being promoted.
The consumer is seduced into thinking that more is better, when in fact more is often less.
Current MoCA technology data rates are 175 Mbps for every product. This is what you will get at home.
High performance is desirable of course, but so is reliability. Unreliable performance, not matter how high, is still unsatisfactory and not a proper solution. What is required is high performance AND reliability for consistent delivery of content.
Many home networking technology standards are capable of high performance. However, reliability can be an issue because of interference issues that accrue from the nature of the medium. For instance, both wireless and powerline technologies are susceptible to interference when other devices are in use. This will likely hinder performance and impact the time it takes to download a movie, for instance.
MoCA works over the existing coax. Coax is a shielded medium, immune to interference, and originally designed for video.
These terms are often used interchangeably but they are not the same.
Compatibility generally means coexistence. This means that two technologies, products or services can reside on the same board or in the same system without interfering with each other’s operation.
Interoperability means each succeeding version of a networking specification can interact with the one previous.
Interoperability includes backward compatibility. Backward compatibility does not always mean backward interoperability.
Think of it as being friendly with your neighbors (compatibility) and having them over for a BBQ (interoperability).
Interoperability is essential for a technology to be a true standard as it assures operators and end users that their current investment is protected as next generation versions can be added or layered in without disruption to existing equipment.
Every version of MoCA is guaranteed to work with the one previous. This means the equipment you bought a year ago is not obsolete when new equipment is connected. They all work together.
This is not always true of wireless or powerline technologies.
To sum up, a complete and comprehensive home entertainment networking standard should offer high performance based on actual throughputs, with reliable delivery of content, that is backward interoperable with previous versions, and uses a safe and secure medium.
There is only one such standard — MoCA.
The rest are merely alternatives.