Gigabit speeds are coming – and in some cases are already here – but the question of how in-home networks can be configured to deliver on these advancements remains.

In a Wednesday session at Cable-Tec Expo in Philadelphia, Comcast Principal Engineer Ross Gilson and SCTE/ISBE Network Engineering Instructor Rick Kelly took a dive into how the MoCA standard can be used to extend the reach of Ethernet in the home.

Gilson pointed out that in a traditional WiFi home using extenders, the network also needs a backhaul connection. While a user could theoretically plug the extender into an Ethernet connection, Gilson said the problem is not many people have Ethernet in their homes up to the second floor. What they do have, however, is coax. And that’s where MoCA comes in.

Using the MoCA standard, Gilson said the network can send signals over the coax cable to send IP packets and extend WiFi from the main core router.

Kelly said MoCA could also be used to drive more access points within the home to resolve dead spot issues and cut back on the latency losses that come with extenders.

The MoCA 2.0 standard includes an enhanced mode that offers 800 Mbps MAC throughput, 1.4 Gbps PHY rate, a packet error rate of 1 in 100 million and 3.6 millisecond latency. MoCA 2.5 offers interoperability with MoCA 2.0 and 1.1, enhanced privacy and multiple data rate profiles ranging from 400 mbps through 2.5 Gbps with up to 16 nodes.

When implementing MoCA, Kelly said operators should assess the current cabling in a customer’s home and determine the splitter arrangement, replacing suspect splitters and cabling to ensure they can support the higher frequencies used in MoCA’s channel plans and the increased throughput. Operators should also install a Point of Entry filter to prevent the MoCA signals from leaving the home, Kelly noted.

On the WiFi side, Kelly said operators should discuss a customer’s wireless needs to determine the number of devices used and the WiFi standard used; characterize the RF environment using spectrum analyzers; assess antenna placement and RF coverage based on single or multiple access points; and follow up with the customer to ensure their wireless needs have been met.

The last step, Kelly stressed, is well worth an operator’s while. Why? Because happier customers mean a reduction in costs.

“If we could start looking at the idea of more access points to handle those dead spot issues, like potentially one in each room, it doesn’t necessarily make the cost incredibly different,” Kelly said. “The thing that does cost is customer calls, tech support -- all that kind of stuff -- the truck rolls. Those become very costly. So if we can get there, have a good solid cabling system with reliable equipment, customers happy, there’s not the calls. So that’s what we’re trying to go to.”

“There’s a few more steps involved, so yes, this does make an installation longer,” he continued. "But if you think about it, if you’re there a little bit longer and you put in a more stable system, the likelihood of a trouble call is going to be less -- much less … Performance issues are what gets a lot of the calls and the costs for a cable operator.”