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InCoax first to MoCA Access, claiming vast savings over DOCSIS

For all the intelligent features comprising next generation WiFi technologies, TV operators and telcos alike will increasingly rely on fixed networks for reaching additional premises and making the next gigabit jump. There are plenty of fixed technology options in the fight for the multi-dwelling unit (MDU) and this week the first products based on the MoCA (Multimedia over Coax Alliance) Access 2.5 standard have landed – from Swedish electronics manufacturer InCoax Networks.

DOCSIS and G.fast technologies typically dominate these conversations, with large scale deployments in enabling the last leap in fiber to the home (FTTH) or fiber to the curb (FTTC) deployments, but the new In:xtnd product line from InCoax, based on MoCA Access 2.5, claims even more radical cost savings for operators – and potentially higher speeds.

G.fast has been tasked with rescuing the giant and disastrous Australian national broadband network project, while the world’s largest cable TV operator, Comcast, has been one of the most vocal in DOCSIS 3.1 upgrades. Each of these broadband technologies cut down FTTH deployment costs significantly, but InCoax claims the cost of deploying In:xtnd in an apartment within an MDU amounts to around 20% of the cost of fiber, 40% the cost of DOCSIS 3.1, and roughly 50% the cost of G.fast, according to InCoax CEO Peter Carlsson, briefing Faultline Online Reporter in the run up to the Anga Com trade show in Cologne next week.

At Anga, InCoax has over 25 potential customers lined up for trials and the plan is to have lab trials up and running over summer, for which two customers are already confirmed. “We are currently focused on Western Europe, although there are some openings in Asia Pacific and the US will hopefully come later. We have to start somewhere,” said Carlsson, who arrived at InCoax in September from a mining company (actual mining, not data) and previously did a stint at Sony Ericsson.

AT&T has started moving into coax to target MDUs but plans to use Coax based G.fast, so the MoCA momentum is clearly with Europe. Many operators are waiting for DOCSIS 3.1 gateways to drop in price before full roll outs and because the chips support WiFi and MoCA they remain high in price.

Importantly, MoCA Access 2.5 can coexist with DOCSIS as both operate in a point-to-multipoint design in different parts of the spectrum, and despite In:xtnd being InCoax’s first product suite based on MoCA Access 2.5, the company has a history of developing products designed for similar DOCSIS coexistence environments. “All our products until now have been based on the MoCA c.Link Broadband Access standard, targeting the hospitality market with deployments in hotel buildings. With our new product line, based on MoCA Access 2.5, we are targeting the operators,” said Carlsson.

Capable of 2.5 Gbps down and 2 Gbps up, In:xtnd is targeting cable MSOs, fiber-optic network providers and builders, telcos and MNOs, as well as systems integrators. DOCSIS 3.1 can reach a real world limit of around 7.4 Gbps down and 1.4 Gbps up, although Carlsson is betting on the cost savings and symmetrical speeds of In:xtnd.

InCoax, which is planning to IPO in Q3 this year, has also enjoyed deployments around Europe using Ethernet over Coax chipsets which were built around earlier MoCA standards.

InCoax’s In:xtnd portfolio houses four products all based on MoCA Access 2.5 – Control, Access, Manage and Combine. In:xtnd Control is a broadband over coax access node, capable of 2.5 Gbps per RF port and supporting up to 124 In:xtnd Access modems, which are cost-efficient coax to ethernet media converters providing 2 x 1 Gbps.

In:xtnd Manage is an advanced element manager with features for In:xtnd Control deployment, control and supervision of the coax link conditions. Manage also includes functions for carrier-class service provisioning and network management. Lastly, frequency multiplexer-demultiplexer coax filters for combining TV frequencies and data in the existing coaxial cabling is all handled by the In:xtnd Combine product.

MoCA Access was first announced in 2016, and the standard version serves up to 63 modems and, as well as DOCSIS, and is designed to co-exist with legacy services such as TV and cellular (4G/5G) technologies. The operating frequency range is 400 MHz to 1,675 MHz, although most cable installations have some overlapping frequencies which have to be ignored, reducing the capacity slightly.

The network controller in an MDU installation is typically found in the basement and serves multiple locations in multiple apartments on the same coaxial loop. This could be between 4 and 63 apartments, although with multiple connections per home this will likely support far less homes, perhaps in the region of 16 to 24.

In a fitting finale, InCoax quoted Faultline Online Reporter’s very own Peter White in its product launch announcement, following a separate research project carried out for the Alliance. “So far, broadband has been a two-horse race between DOCSIS on coax and G.fast and other DSL technologies on twisted pair. Today that has changed and MDUs in particular are looking for a system which is more cost competitive, reliable and flexible and which offers better Quality of Service guarantees. MoCA Access 2.5 is far more cost-effective than fiber to the apartment and various untried wireless broadband solutions, which means that In:xtnd can genuinely compete on price, reliability, overall throughput and flexibility,” said Peter White, CEO and Co-Founder, Rethink Technology Research.

Carlsson added: “There is growing demand from people living in apartment blocks across Europe, Asia and the Americas for access to gigabit broadband speeds. It is expensive for providers to implement fiber or upgrade DOCSIS to meet this demand, while alternative technologies such as G.fast do not yield the required speeds or QoS. Because In:xtnd uses the existing in-building coax, cable MSOs and broadband providers now have access to a universal fiber extension solution that offers a viable alternative to fiber to the apartment and DOCSIS 3.1 at a very competitive price point.”

While InCoax is first to market with products based on MoCA Access 2.5, Carlsson has heard rumors of vendors not being far behind with launches – but was unfortunately not obliged to name-drop.

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