Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Netgear MoCA Adapters and Verizon FiOS
In my ongoing revamp of my A/V and networking setup in my house I recently added some Netgear MCAB1001 MoCA Coax to Ethernet adapters into the mix. This is a great way to get wired networking into rooms where you have a coax connection but no ethernet, and is preferable to Wi-Fi for high-bandwidth operations like streaming video because MoCA is much faster. They claim up to 270 mbps and while I haven't done any specific speed tests myself, I can attest to the fact that it's blazing fast based on using a computer hooked into the MoCA adapter. I did have an interesting thing happen with my setup that I figured I'd share in case anyone else runs into this. If you're on Verizon FiOS and have both internet and TV, chances are you already have MoCA. Typically if you have both internet and TV they give you an Actiontec router that has both ethernet ports and a coax port on the back of it. You plug the coax from the wall into the coax port on the router, and this allows the FiOS TV set-top boxes to get IP addresses, their channel guides, and also handles video on demand. The Netgear MCAB 1001 has two coax ports on it, one in and one out. I assumed for this to work I'd have to plug one of the MCAB1001s into the Verizon router, so I took the coax from the wall and plugged it into the "in" on the Netgear, then took another coax cable and went from the "out" on the Netgear to the coax port on the Verizon Actiontec router. This actually worked for a few days, but then suddenly stopped working. This was probably a coincidence but it stopped working after I threw a third MCAB1001 onto the network. The third one worked fine for a bit and then crapped out (to use a technical term). I assumed there was some problem with the configuration on the Netgear devices but after talking with Netgear support, they said I'd have to call Verizon to get the problem resolved since there were no IP addresses being handed out on the coax side of the network. I was dreading calling Verizon because the Netgear isn't their device, and I already have a bit of a funky network setup since I don't use the Actiontec router as my main router anymore. I have to give massive kudos to Verizon support. I told them what was going on, almost apologetically since I figured they'd say "not our device, can't help you" (and rightfully so), but the support person I got went above and beyond to help me diagnose why IP addresses weren't getting distributed over the coax. I hadn't ever dug around on my set-top box before but if you go to "Help" and then "Self-Diagnostics," it will tell you whether or not the set-top box is getting an IP address (along with a lot of other useful info). In my case it wasn't, which likely meant that the MCAB1001 I had plugged into the Actiontec router was causing issues. I went back to having the coax from the wall plugged directly into the Actiontec router and the set-top box successfully got an IP. So at this point I had no MCAB1001 hooked into the Actiontec router at all. But to my surprise when I went to the other two rooms where I had MCAB1001s hooked up, the devices plugged into them were working. After I thought about it a bit I'm not sure why I was surprised, and I'm not sure why I thought I needed to have a MCAB1001 plugged into the Actiontec router in the first place. The Actiontec router is already using MoCA to get the set-top boxes on the network, so the MCAB1001s plugged into the coax jacks in other rooms will work the same way. In short, if you want to use MoCA in other rooms in your house and already have an Actiontec router with coax going into it, just grab these Netgear devices and plug them in and you'll be good to go.After two days of screwing around with this stuff it's all working fantastically well, with the only unresolved issue being why it ever worked with the MCAB1001 plugged into the Actiontec in the first place. One of life's great unsolved mysteries I suppose. Thanks again to Verizon FiOS support for being so gracious in helping me figure this out. I had Comcast before switching to FiOS, and from experience I can say with some certainty that Comcast would have said "not our problem."