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Powerline vs MoCA: Which alternative networking technology is the best?

Michael Brown | July 21, 2015
Ethernet cable (either CAT5e or CAT6) is the gold standard of home-networking technology. If you can string cable from your router to everywhere you need Internet access, do it. You'll get out-of-this-world speed and impeccable reliability.

So which is better? Powerline or MoCA?

Powerline and MoCA are both ingenious technologies that allow you to use your home's existing wiring for a second purpose; namely, extending the range of your home network. They're both very easy to install, and there's no configuration required other than connecting cables. If your Wi-Fi router can't deliver enough range, and you can't string Ethernet cable, either powerline or MoCA might do the trick.

Deciding which is better will depend on your home's infrastructure. HomePlug MIMO (and its powerline rival, require that your home have grounded wiring. That's not a problem for newer homes, since that's now part of the electrical code, but it could be an issue in older construction. If your home doesn't have grounded wiring, you could fall back to one of the older HomePlug standards that don't require a ground wire, but you'll get much less performance. But if your home has a whole-house surge suppressor installed, be aware that it will put a major damper on any powerline adapter's performance.

MoCA can be a terrific alternative because there's a whole lot less activity on a coax cable than there is in your home's electrical wiring. Refrigerators, hair dryers, air conditioners, washing machines, and other appliances can inject all kinds of noise into your home's electrical system when they cycle on and off, and that can wreak havoc on data traveling over those same wires. MoCA is also immune to power-conditioning devices such as surge suppressors.

I think those factors render MoCA the superior alternative networking technology; but if you rely on satellite TV, versus cable or an over-the-air antenna, MoCA could be a no-go. The other drawback is that many older homes aren't pre-wired with coax. You can be assured that almost any room in your home will have an electrical outlet; you can't be as sure it will have an F connector for coax. 


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