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Comcast, EchoStar among 'MoCA' founders

Mon, 01/05/2004 - 7:00pm
Jeff Baumgartner

A mix of service providers, tech firms and retailers have joined forces to form the Multimedia Over Coax Alliance (MoCA), a group that aims to tap the unused bandwidth of in-home coax and to network myriad devices, including televisions, set-tops, digital video recorders and MP3 players.

MoCA's founders include Comcast Cable, EchoStar Communications, Entropic Communications, Matsushita Electric (Panasonic), Motorola, RadioShack Corp. and Toshiba.

The group's goal is to create a set of specifications for MoCA and to develop a certification process for MoCA-based products. The coalition expects the first MoCA-enabled products to be released within the next 12 months. The aim also is to create retail-ready products that do not require professional installations or expensive truck rolls.

MoCA itself aims to provide the components necessary to distribute QoS-sensitive, DVD-quality video though the home at up to 270 Mbps. To discourage piracy, MoCA will also support packet-level encryption.

MoCA is designed to complement the CableLabs CableHome specification, which handles security and service management protocols, noted Mark Francisco of Comcast's new media development unit.

"MoCA will handle the physical and MAC layer," he explained. "It will work in a variety of topologies. The end result is that consumers will have a good experience because they'll plug things in and they'll work."

Part of Francisco's goal, he added, is to influence the specification so that they are compatible with Comcast's networks and vision and that MoCA remains complementary to CableHome.

He said MoCA will spend the majority of 2004 developing the specifications and coupling those efforts with field tests.

Entropic thus far is the lone semiconductor vendor to join MoCA. Founded in 2001, the San Diego-based fabless chip designer came out of stealth mode late last year. At the 2003 Western Show, Entropic demonstrated a whole-home broadband entertainment system that used existing coax to pipe and share a spate of voice, video and data applications. The startup is expected to make a formal product announcement early this year.

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