Can you use a DECA to broadcast internet signal?

OK, I need your help out there. I got this exact question from a customer, courtesy of our 100% US-based call center in Novi, Michigan. This was about two weeks ago and I’m still trying to work through this request. I still haven’t heard from the customer telling me what they mean but let’s have a little fun with trying to figure out.

Here’s a DECA.

This is AT&T’s latest DECA. A DECA is a “DIRECTV/Ethernet/Coaxial Adapter.” In other words, it’s a thing that connects your DIRECTV’s coaxial cable to your home internet. It’s very rarely used in homes anymore since all new installations for the last four years have had this function built into the box. It’s still used in commercial installations where you need a lot more large scale integration.

Here’s what a DECA does.

In all modern DIRECTV systems, network information travels over the coax line at the same time as the satellite signal does. The two don’t interfere with each other. This is the basis for the entire Genie system. The satellite signal comes into the DVR (or server). It’s translated to network data and sent to each client.

Since this is all network data anyway, this opens up an opportunity for the whole system to connect to the internet. This makes streaming on-demand programming possible. So you need a point of connection between the satellite TV network and your home, internet-connected network. That connection point is the DECA. Coax on one side, Ethernet on the other side. Installed correctly, it all works perfectly.

Genie systems have the same hardware built-in so they don’t need an external DECA. That’s why this piece of hardware has become rarer over the years.

What else can you do with a DECA?

A DECA is basically a dumb adapter. There are wired ones and wireless ones. All it does is move information from your DIRECTV Coax network to your home network and back. So, there are a few tricks you can do.

You can use a DECA to add internet to a room that has DIRECTV coax in it. You can use a long stretch of unused coax, and a pair of DECAs, to make a very expensive Ethernet cable. But really that’s about all you can do. Which brings us back to the original question:

What is this guy trying to do?

He uses the term “broadcast internet signal.” That sounds pretty exotic until you realize that we use that all the time. It’s called Wi-Fi. It’s been part of our lives for a generation.

My guess is that this customer is thinking that his wireless DECA could be used as a wireless access point. An access point is a device that provides Wi-Fi to anywhere with a wired connection. They’re used to fill dead spots in your home with internet, and in large businesses to give customers free Wi-Fi.

So no, you can’t do that.

The DECA requires a connection to an existing network. It doesn’t make a new wireless network where none existed before. We do have tons of access points at Solid Signal, if you’re curious. We also have wireless repeaters, which let you connect to one Wi-Fi network and then create another.  Wireless repeaters can get internet into rooms that don’t have any wiring at all.

But I don’t know. If you have any theories that can help this customer… leave them in the comments below. I hope I hear back from him soon because I’d like to help him figure out what he does really need.