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."

23 comments:

juanbayas said...

Hi,Can you please detail the setup of the working connection?I am assumign in the end you took the coax from the wall and connected it to a 1-2 splitter one went to the Netgear Moca and the second one to the FIOS Actiontec. Did you the plug the ethernet from the Netgear Moca to one of the ports in the Actiontec router (or the other router you are using)?Thanks for your help. I am thinking of switching to FIOS but was concerned about this setup since I knew FIOS works with Coax-to-Ethernet

Matthew Woodward said...

Sure thing--actually the setup turned out to be quite simple.You don't need to plug a Netgear MoCA adapter into the Actiontec router at all. So the cable from the wall should go into the coax of the Actiontec and that's it--you don't need to have a Netgear MoCA adapter in that room at all. In the other rooms where you want MoCA, you take the coax from the wall into the coax "in" on the Netgear, and you may not even need to use the "out" coax on the Netgear. Note that if you have a set top box in the same room you'll want to use a splitter. DON'T use the out on the Netgear to go into the coax in on a set-top box. So if you do have a set-top box, you'd go wall to splitter, then one side of the splitter to set-top box, and the other side of the splitter to the coax "in" on the Netgear. With the MoCA device in place you can then plug a single ethernet cable in the back of the MoCA, or in two rooms I'm using a switch since I have more than one device I want to have on MoCA. Switches work fine plugged into the MoCA adapter. Because the Actiontec router is already a MoCA device, you're essentially able to stick Netgear adapters in other rooms without having to have a "primary" Netgear MoCA adapter like you would with a cable modem or DSL setup. Hope that makes sense, but if not be sure and let me know and I can scan in a picture or something.

juanbayas said...

Thank you for fast reply MathewSo the FIOS signal that comes through the wall already has an IP, DNS etc...that a modem would do....interesting. Then the ActionTec is basically a MoCa adapter takes in Coax and outputs ethernet. I am guessing the Coax-in on the Actiontec works to receive and send signal if not, I just dont see how the router can manage the IPs of the other far away devices connected to MoCa adapters.Have you tried using a different router rather than the one provided by VZ? I have a D-Link DIR665 its pretty sweet and costly cant part it with it just yet.By reading the Netgear site and customer reviews on amazon i was under the impression one could only use two adapters (i thought one adapter was a router of sorts and the other one in the other room a receiver). How were you able to connect three adapters? Was it as simple as taking three coax cables from the wall each in a different room and plugging in it to the back the Netgear adapters (of course assuming you have the ActionTec provided by VZ properly set up in a fourth room)?Thank you for help.Sorry for all the questions but im just taken aback by the technology avaiable at our disposal. The couch potato possibilities seem endless.

juanbayas said...

Hi Mathew,Thank you for detailed reply. Everything makes sense the way I have mine set up is the same way you described with the modem. Once I get FIOS i can free that little Netgear MoCa and put it somewhere else. My last question is, near the end you say you need a primary or more direct MoCa device to be connected to the router. In your case do you you have your Lynksys router hardwired to a MoCa device to achieve this direct bridging? Also, the ActionTec router has to just be part of the network to get info for the set top boxes, it dosent have to be the heart does it?Thanks,Juan

Matthew Woodward said...

Yes, I do have the Actiontec connected to the Linksys router via ethernet. In my case I have an ethernet plug in the wall in the room the Actiontec is in, and the other end of the wire in the wall goes out to the router. So I have an ethernet cable going from one of the LAN ports (note that's LAN and not WAN) on the Actiontec to the wall, and on the other end that goes into one of the LAN ports on the Linksys router. And you're correct about the Actiontec router--it does need to be connected in order for your set top boxes to get programming information and for you to be able to use video on demand, but it absolutely does not have to be the router that plugs into the ONT. All you have to do is log into the Actiontec and turn off DHCP, and then you won't be using the WAN port on the Actiontec at all.

juanbayas said...

Hi Mat,I am back...can you please do me one last favor and please detail how you are using a different router than the Actiontec. I understand you have an ethernet going from one of the Lan ports from the ActionTec into one of the Lan Ports of the Lynksys. I was wondering what you enabled or disabled inside the Actiontec to make it only a bridge . Also by making the Actiontec into a bridge wont this mess the ability of the STBs to get the info they need for the On-Demand, widgets, etc...Thanks again.Juan

Matthew Woodward said...

Couple of links to check--this one has the most info:http://www.dslreports.com/faq/verizonfios/3.0_Networking And here are how some others did things:http://agaric.com/note/how-setup-linksys-router-verizon-fioshttp://www.dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php/Verizon_FiOS_-_Using_Your_Own_Router http://www.jaredlog.com/?p=1042This setup will not mess up the ability for the set top boxes to get programming guides. It *may* screw up on-demand. It's not supposed to, but in my case on-demand didn't seem to work when I last tried it, but I don't use it enough that I care. I haven't tried recently so that may have even been a temporary glitch. I just checked the widgets and they work fine. I was going to check on-demand again but both my DVR tuners are in use at the moment so I'll have to try again later. I'll try to remember to post back to let you know whether it works or not, but the widgets are OK.

bayas2tcnj said...

Hey Mat, I connect with Facebook before what happened to that?anyway...After reading through pages and pages of the links you suggested i've come to the conclusion that life is easier if you have ethernet coming out of the ONT. Is this what you have ethernet out of the ONT?So it should be:ONT -- Cat6-> Lynksis WAN --> Lynksis Lan1--Cat6 -> ActionTec WAN--ActionTec RF Out (it only has one anyway right?) --Coax ->Splitter 1x2 one connector to ONTSecond connector -> STBThen another roomCoax from wall -> Splitter 1x2--> one connector to MCAB1001 (the netgear should piggyback without much configurition right?) -> SlingboxSecond connector coax -> STB

Matthew Woodward said...

Sorry, Facebook connect may have gotten messed up when I changed to use a custom domain name on posterous. I'll double-check my settings but you may just have a cookie that needs to be cleared or something.Yes, life is easier if you have ethernet out of the ONT. That's what I have. You can call Verizon and have them switch your ONT over to ethernet out if you currently are using coax. Note that both can't be enabled at the same time. The actiontec does only have one coax jack, but I believe it's *in*, not out. You go from wall to Actiontec, and in my experience you do *not* want a splitter at that point. If you are in a room where you need to go from wall to both the actiontec and a set top box, go from the wall to a splitter, then from the splitter into both the actiontec and the set top box. Other than that I think you're on the right track.

bayas2tcnj said...

Hi Matt,The FIOS tech came and put the ethernet. I was also able to use my Dlink router instead of the AT. I Just wanted to verify something. My AT has subnet 168.192.1.X the Dlink 168.192.0.X. When I connected my Netgear Moca devices these took the SSID from the AT (VFZW something along those lines) and had a subnet of 168.192.1.X is this correct? Also wondering if you use firewire to control you STBs... Do you a home made PVR system?

Matthew Woodward said...

The netgears themselves will by default run on 192.168.0 if I remember correctly, which is fine. Everything doesn't need to run on 192.168.1 because the .0 and .1 are routable between each other. I have my Amahi box (which is the thing actually acting as my DHCP server) handing out IPs in the 192.168.1 range, so even though the netgears are on 192.168.0, the devices plugged into the netgears get IPs in the 192.168.1 range since the netgear is just passing network traffic as opposed to handling IP assignment. I'm not quite sure what you mean by the moca devices taking the SSID from your wireless router, so you'd have to explain what's going on there.I don't have any Verizon set-top boxes at all any longer. I have one cable card that I have running my Moxi DVR (http://www.moxi.com), and since I have two Moxi Mates to watch live and recorded TV in other rooms, I didn't need the Verizon STBs. I have a TV tuner for a Mac computer that picks up any unencrypted channels, but of course that's a small subset of what you get with a cable card or STB.

juanbayas said...

Hi Matt.   I followed these instructions: http://www.dslreports.com/faq/verizonfios/3.1_Actiontec#15992 basically ONT -(cat5)-> DLinkrouter WAN -(cat5)-> Actiontec WAN -(coax)-> STB   I first factory reset my MoCa adapter and then put the settings to ALL PASS. I connected the coax to the MoCa and then Ethernet to my  laptop (turned wireless off wireless doesn't reach anyway but just in case). The Network name from my DLink is JUAN but my laptop said I was connected to a VFZW network via LAN and I had a 192.168.1.X (which is the Actiontec sub-net). I was able to connect to the Internet. I then disconnected the Ethernet and turned wireless back on and it connected to the JUAN network with 192.168.0.X ( i had to go to a different location in the house so the wireless could reach). I then connected another DLink router in bridge mode to the Ethernet port of the MoCa adapter . This Dlink has and is giving IPs to wireless clients with 192.168.0.X.  I just want to make sure that I am not creating two networks and I wont be able to share files, stream media, print, etc. like i used to before the FIOS install.   The tuner cards on the MOXI boxes can tune premium channels from Verizon as well (i.e HBO, Cinemax)? I am assuming you have FIOS TV service but just no STBs. If that's the case these pay for themselves don't they?

bayas2tcnj said...

Hi Matt. I followed these instructions:http://www.dslreports.com/faq/verizonfios/3.1_Actiontec#15992basically ONT -(cat5)-> DLinkrouter WAN -(cat5)-> Actiontec WAN -(coax)-> STB I first factory reset my MoCa adapter and then put the settings to ALL PASS. I connected the coax to the MoCa and then Ethernet to my laptop (turned wireless off wireless doesn't reach anyway but just in case). The Network name from my DLink is JUAN but my laptop said I was connected to a VFZW network via LAN and I had a 192.168.1.X (which is the Actiontec sub-net). I was able to connect to the Internet. I then disconnected the Ethernet and turned wireless back on and it connected to the JUAN network with 192.168.0.X ( i had to go to a different location in the house so the wireless could reach). I then connected another DLink router in bridge mode to the Ethernet port of the MoCa adapter . This Dlink has and is giving IPs to wireless clients with 192.168.0.X. I just want to make sure that I am not creating two networks and I wont be able to share files, stream media, print, etc. like i used to before the FIOS install. The tuner cards on the MOXI boxes can tune premium channels from Verizon as well (i.e HBO, Cinemax)? I am assuming you have FIOS TV service but just no STBs. If that's the case these pay for themselves don't they?

Matthew Woodward said...

Yep, the Moxi can tune whatever channels are authorized to the card from Verizon. The set-top boxes actually use the exact same card that they give you separate to use in a TiVo or Moxi so yes, if you have premium channels they absolutely work on the cable card.

Johnny Wong said...

I am thinking about using a MoCA setup with my FiOS as well (TV/Internet). You said something about a splitter in rooms which you want to use the STB as well as the MoCA adapter for ethernetDo you happen to know what sort of "splitter" Since I know they have different megahertz type.

Matthew Woodward said...

Hi Johnny--the splitter I have is a pretty basic -3.5db splitter from Radio Shack. Let me know if that isn't the information you needed.

Jonathan Ugolick said...

After reading your blog and all of the posts, I have to say thank you for all the great information you have provided. I currently have Verizon Fios TV, Internet and phone and would like to use a third party wireless N router with MoCA capabilities. I've spoken with Verizon technical support and they've indicated that they currently do not provide a wireless N router but that Actiontec makes one. Ultimately I would like to stop renting their router and buy my own to use it as my primary router. From what I've read, this doesn't seem to be possible. I do not want to buy an Actiontec router.One of the reasons for wanting to use an N router with MoCA capablities is so that my STBs still function as they would if connected to Verizon's router but with faster transfer rates to my wireless devices. I do a lot of video streaming to my XBox 360 and faster transfer of media would greatly increase the quality. I do realize that for the XBox 360 I would need a N capable wireless adapter as well as an N router. Assuming that is in place, is it possible to stop using an Actiontec brand router altogether and go with a third party wireless N router for all my wireless devices.Any information you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time!

Matthew Woodward said...

It's been a while since I was neck deep in all of this, but my recollection is that if you don't have Verizon's router at all you wouldn't get programming guides for your set-top boxes, and you wouldn't be able to do video on demand. Now of course you *can* have Verizon's router serving those functions but not use it as a wireless router. By that I mean you can shut off the wireless on the Actiontec and use your own N router. In my setup the Actiontec is *not* my primary router. But if you want to get out of renting Verizon's router altogether I don't think that's possible unless you don't care about them program guides on your STB. The only other thing you might do is buy the third-party wireless N router that has MoCA, hook it up, and see if it works. I've had excellent customer support from Verizon over the years (and it's now Frontier in Washington state but same great customer support), but I have a feeling the "party line answer" you'll get is that they don't support third-party routers for use as the primary router. All this stuff is more or less a standard, however, so it might just work. And if it doesn't, most places have pretty liberal return policies on things like networking devices.

v6alfa said...

Hi Matthew, Why does it have to be the actiontec used as the bridge? Why wasnt the Netgear you originally used able to work as the bridge between the coax and ethernet? It would only need to pass through the dns and dhcp, if i understood your comments correctly. Im trying to fit all my devices into a neat little enclosure, and that actiontec is just too huge. I do have FIOS TV, but have tivo and cable cards in one room, and i guess i could replace the other STB with a tivo.

Matthew Woodward said...

The Actiontec only needs to be involved at all if you want to get programming data and video on demand for your set-top boxes. If you don't want/need that then I don't think you need the Actiontec at all.

v6alfa said...

wow, thanks for a quick reply. So the Actiontec additionally decodes programming data and sends it to the STB over the coax? I thought the the coax was an input only, so how does that info get back to the STB? Sorry , i am very amateur it person and im trying understand how the information is traveling. Its giving me a headache thinking about it.

Matthew Woodward said...

Verizon lets you hook things up in several ways. This is my understanding of my particular setup.In my case I have ethernet coming from the ONT into the house so I have an ethernet jack in the wall in one room in my house. This room also has a coax jack in the wall. The Actiontec is plugged into both the ethernet and the coax jacks in this room. The ethernet goes out to the ONT and that's the mainline internet communication. The Actiontec itself *is* MoCA so the coax that goes from the Actiontec into the wall handles communication between the Actiontec (and by extension, the internet) and the set-top boxes. Since most houses aren't wired for ethernet they're using the coax to get the set-top boxes online over MoCA. Note that you can also have the ONT go straight to coax, in which case you wouldn't have any ethernet jacks in your walls.Now that's a setup in which the Actiontec is used as the primary router. In my case I'm using a Cisco/Linksys "business class" wired router that I connect to the ONT. So I've disabled routing, DHCP, etc. on my Actiontec, though I do still leverage it as a wireless access point. So in my case the Linksys router is connected via ethernet to the ONT (directly through a hole in my garage wall to the ONT which is mounted on the side of the house), and then this router is also connected to the aforementioned ethernet jack in the wall. That way I can hook the Actiontec into that jack, as well as the coax, and still get all the functionality even though I'm not using the Actiontec as the main router. Now since the Actiontec is already MoCA, to get MoCA in the other three rooms in which I wanted it, I got the Netgear MoCA boxes and just plugged those into the coax in the three rooms that have coax but not ethernet. This all just worked once I hooked up the Netgear MoCA boxes. Actually now that I think about it (sorry, it's been quite a while since I set all this up and since it's working I haven't touched it since), I think you still get programming guide data with this setup but you *may* lose the ability to do video on demand. I seem to recall trying it and it didn't work properly, and now in my setup since I have a Moxi (http://www.moxi.com) and the only equipment I have from Verizon is a cablecard, I can't do VOD anyway so it doesn't matter that it's not working. Sorry I'm a bit fuzzy on the details at this point, but hope that helps clarify some things.

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