MoCA plugs coax cable usage

Group, other tech companies to unveil plans at CES

HOLLYWOOD — In the first big news to come out of the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show, a coalition of technology companies led by Comcast, Panasonic and EchoStar have formed a new alliance to promote the use of coaxial cables to create secure home entertainment networks.

The group, called the Multimedia Over Coax Alliance (MoCA), is promoting the use of coax cables, which most consumers already use to hook up cable outlets to televisions and to share content among a range of consumer devices in the home, such as digital video recorders, PCs, stereos and TVs.

Other founding members of MoCA include Toshiba, Cisco Systems, Motorola, Radio Shack and Entropic Communications, which is developing the chips and software that would let data be transferred over coax cables. Because coax outlets are already installed in virtually all houses, the group is hopeful its solution will allow for simpler and more reliable home networking than those that require new cables or products.

“Existing solutions like wireless can handle data, but when you want to do video, you need robust and reliable service,” said Ladd Wardani, president of MoCA and VP of business development at Entropic. “We set out to find a solution that can handle entertainment content, using outlets people already have in their houses.”

Wardani added that existing and future digital copyright solutions will be able to work within the MoCA standard.

In order to set up a MoCA network at home, consumers will need to either buy adapters for existing devices that have coaxial outlets, which include most machines designed to connect to a television and some new media center PCs, or purchase new devices with MoCA chips pre-installed. Adapters are scheduled to begin hitting the market in the third quarter of this year.

MoCA will unveil its standard at the Consumer Electronics Show, which begins this Thursday in Las Vegas. A number of technology companies are expected to debut new entertainment products and technology. Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, who is giving a pre-show speech Wednesday evening, may talk about new portable entertainment technology, while Hewlett Packard is expected to debut a music download store and companies such as Dell and Epson will unveil new home entertainment products such as television sets and music players.

Hollywood is turning out in full force for this year’s show, the biggest in CES history. The Consumer Electronics Assn., which runs the trade show, said representatives from every major studio will be in attendance.

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