Today we chatted with Rob Gelphman, Chairman of the Marketing Work Group for the Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA)
. As we discuss various ways to distribute multimedia around our homes, MoCA stands out as one of the most comprehensive methods.
Click the right sidebar Podcast interface to listen to the podcast. (My apologies but my equipment shut off about two-thirds of the way through).
The benefits of the MoCA approach are that it:
1) Is secure (after all, it's wrapped in tubing, not floating through the air inside and outside of your home).
2) Has no interference (after all, it's wrapped in tubing, not floating through the air inside and outside of your home).
3) Carries multiple channels of hi-def quite nicely.
4) Requires no new wires, but instead leverages the coaxial cable snaking throughout more than 90% of homes in the U.S.
5) Is a whole-house solution, meaning that it allows you to stop/pause/resume content from all the coax-connected TVs in your home. Some of the other solutions we have discussed are really only in-room solutions for connecting a nearby PC for example to a flat panel TV on the wall wirelessly (Rob doesn't really see these solutions competing with MoCA, rather he sees them as part of a larger alternative/collaborative ecosystem).
6) Is widely deployed with a growing network of suppliers and service providers signing on. Perhaps the biggest service provider using MoCA is Verizon's FiOS triple play service. There are two chip platforms with MoCA support baked in, Entropic and now Broadcom, which should help drive scale and cost reduction. Pretty much all the major consumer electronics, cable TV, and connected home players are also on board, including Intel, Cisco, Comcast, Cox, Panasonic, Motorola, Time Warner, you name it.
The only major drawbacks I see are:
1) MoCA still requires a set-top box at each TV, albeit only one "big" one with the rest being sleeker "dummy" units (as opposed to the ZvBox approach which also uses coax but only the tuner inside your QAM-capable HDTVs--full disclosure: I helped to launch and own stock in ZeeVee so I am somewhat biased there). Perhaps a future MoCA cable-card imbedded device would solve this problem though.
2) Five years into it, MoCA still has not reached mass acceptance by everyone in the industry. Maddeningly, and no fault to MoCA, while many industry players support and push standards, the standards battle is fraught with religion about whose technology and connected home strategy most benefits. As a result there are multiple standards bodies and protocols driving an overlapping set of functionality including WiFi, Ultra Wideband, Ethernet, Powerline, DLNA, you name it. This has allowed a whole range of point solutions such as AppleTV, Vudu, Roku, SlingBox, HDHomeRun, SlingBox, and ZvBox to sneak in and sell hundreds of thousands of units that could have been MoCA devices. Let’s be honest here folks, there is money being left on the table. The end result of all this is the connected home industry is not as far along as it could be since consumers are confused as hell and price-points for next-generation technology in the home are still beyond what average consumers are willing to pay without service provider subsidies.
It will be interesting to see how all this plays out in the next few years. A few things are certain, consumers love digital multimedia everything, love HD, and are starting to really love Hulu and Internet TV in general. They hate complexity, new wires/networks, and new technologies that are not adequately explained or marketed to them. Will MoCA find the same successful mix of tech benefit and market awareness of say a “WiFi”, “Bluetooth”, or “Intel Inside”? Only time will tell.