Our home WiFi coverage is … not great. We’re getting by with the old router from our ISP, and while it mostly works alright, the coverage isn’t fantastic everywhere. The upstairs rooms furthest from the router sometimes don’t get much signal at all. Updating that with new WiFi mesh devices might be awesome, but I’d also like to have the speed and reliability of a wired connection.

Sadly, our house is not wired up with ethernet. It is, however, wired up with coax to every room from our cable installation. We’re no longer using that for television, so why not use it for our network? Enter MoCA. MoCA is a standard for passing network traffic over a network of coaxial cables. With a handful of MoCA 2.0 adapters, I can ensure each room in the house that needs a reliable connection with speeds of up to 2.5Gbps.

A pair of black rectangular adapters. One end of each has a coaxial port, and the other end has an ethernet port. A pair of lights on each device indicate power and coax signal.

Figure 1: MoCA adapters

Setup was pretty simple: Connect an adapter between a coax line and one of the router’s available ethernet ports, and another adapter between a coax line and a PC. Once two or more adapters are on the coax cable network, they light up to let you know they’re talking to each other. The connection to my second floor home office worked great, and I confirmed that I could get 1Gbps between two of my devices over the coax connection (matching the best speed their ethernet ports could muster).

Other rooms, unfortunately, didn’t fare as well. I just could not seem to get a reliable signal in one of the bedrooms, and another wouldn’t get anything at all (it was splitting the signal from the first one). A little bit of research led me to a pretty important thing to note when setting up such a network: not all coaxial splitters are the same. It turned out my office was using a pretty new splitter that was connected directly to the cable coming from the router. All of the other cables in the house, however, were passing through some pretty old ones.

An aged and weathered coaxial splitter with one input and four outputs, labeled as supporting up to 1000Mhz

Figure 2: The old coax splitter, supporting up to 1Ghz

Coax splitters are rated for specific frequency ranges. Signals outside of those frequencies are effectively filtered out. To get the full benefit of MoCA 2.5, any splitters in the network need to support up to 1675Mhz. Also, any splitters that live outside and exposed to weather conditions may lose signal strength over time due to oxidation and other factors. It just so happens that the main splitter for my house is quite old, lives on the outside wall, and is rated for only up to 1000Mhz. Whoops. Replacing that (and a couple other old ones I found in the house) cleared everything up, and now all my connections are working just fine! For the couple of rooms that have a handful of ethernet devices (my office, and the living room entertainment center), I got a pair of inexpensive 5-port ethernet switches to get everything linked up to the adapters.

A brand new coaxial splitter with one input and four outputs, labeled as supporting up to 2.4Ghz

Figure 3: A new coax splitter supporting up to 2.4Ghz

I’ll still want to upgrade the WiFi at some point, but at least now our devices that need strong connections the most have just what they need. I no longer have to worry about the WiFi signal dropping when I’m working in my office, and the living room can play high-definition media off my home server without any trouble at all.

Now if I could just get the cat to stop chewing on the cables…