Using Adapters to Replace Ethernet
All pods can benefit from having an Ethernet connection to the gateway. When a Wi-Fi signal is unable to reach areas in the home, adding additional Ethernet-connected pods in these areas adds coverage. However, most homes do not have Ethernet connections in every room, and adding it to an existing home can be costly.
There are alternative methods that do not rely on Ethernet cable to create these connections. Existing wiring within the home can be used to run connections in parallel to existing services, such as electrical power. This will require additional equipment, however, the cost of these adapters is much lower than installing an Ethernet cable.
The two most common types of adapters are power line adapters and MoCA adapters. A description of what is required to use each type of adapter, the benefits, and drawbacks of each can be found below.
Power Line Adapters
Also called Ethernet over Power (EoP) adapters or power line communication (PLC), power line adapters pass communications over the electrical connections in the home. With this type of connection, data is passed between two adapters plugged into the same electrical circuit. The diagram below shows how this works:
Benefits of Power Line Adapters
- Electrical power runs throughout the home, which can make it easy to find locations where power line adapters can be used. It likely that each location where an Ethernet connection needs to be made, also has power.
- Testing the power line to see if it has a connection is as easy as turning on the power. Because it doesn’t require any special equipment, testing a line for both integrity and connectivity is easier than other types of connections.
- If more than two adapters are used on the same power line they will act as a switch, eliminating the need for additional network hardware.
Drawbacks of Power Line Adapters
- For a connection to be made both adapters must be on the same power line. Most homes have multiple lines running to different areas of the home. If there has been separation put in place between the power lines in different parts of the home, power line adapters may not be able to communicate between them.
- Because power line adapters rely on the electricity running through the home to carry the signal, they are affected by the consistency of the power and the quality of the wiring provided.
- Most household appliances do not require consistent power to function properly, however, electronics and digital communication do require consistent power. Power interruptions and brownouts affect the consistency of the power line adapter performance.
- While rated for high bandwidth, the performance of power line adapters often suffers due to the power lines they are passing signal over. Older wiring, distance, and signal noise in the power result in the bandwidth being reduced.
- Surge protectors, UPS systems, and other devices for filtering power affect the ability to use power line adapters. They are designed to remove unwanted signals that can affect electronic devices and can remove the signals introduced by the adapters as a result.
- If more than two adapters are used on the same power line they will act as a switch. If care is not taken during planning the network, this can result in unsupported network setups being created.
MoCA (Multimedia over Coaxial Alliance) adapters use the preexisting coaxial cables used to distribute television signals to create connections. This type of wiring is more common than Ethernet cable in the home. To create these connections a MoCA adapter is added to either end of the coaxial cable. Ethernet can then be connected to each adapter to complete the connection between devices. In many cases, the adapters will also have a second coaxial connection that will allow devices to continue using the connection. The diagram below shows how this works:
Benefits of MoCA Adapters
- The greatest benefit of MoCA is how frequently coaxial cable is found in homes. Only much older homes are not likely to have coaxial cables running through the walls.
- Coaxial cables typically run to areas of the home where Wi-Fi will be used the most. Adding another wired pod in these locations will improve Wi-Fi bandwidth in areas where it is most beneficial.
- If the coaxial cable is being dedicated for use MoCA and not being used for television signals, higher bandwidth may be achieved.
- Standards for MoCA devices have been improved, resulting in an improvement in bandwidth. As a result, the maximum bandwidth with MoCA adapters has kept pace with Ethernet standards. If using different adapters, be sure to check for backwards compatibility of the different standards available.
Drawbacks MoCA Adapters
- Because coaxial cable is not typically run to every room in the home, the available connections may not meet the need for adding a wired pod in a particular location.
- Besides the MoCA standard used for the adapters, there are other factors that can affect the bandwidth these adapters can provide. Older, less efficient cabling may be found in older homes, decreasing available bandwidth. Longer coaxial cable lengths between adapters also decrease bandwidth.
Devices with integrated MoCA capabilities
Some ISPs provide residential Gateways (modem-router combinations) that have MoCA capabilities built in. These are usually in the form of a coaxial connection on the Gateway that eliminates the need for a separate adapter at that end of the cable. These are usually paired with other devices, such as MoCA capable Set-Top Boxes (STBs), to allow streaming of higher bandwidth content. MoCA standards allow for any adapter to also connect to this connection, regardless of the manufacturer. This means you could wire a pod by just adding an adapter to an existing setup.