What is a DECA cloud?

Ever hear a satellite enthusiast refer to a “DECA cloud?” It’s one of those terms that everyone talks about but no one seems to really go into detail with.

What is a DECA?

A DECA is DIRECTV’s Ethernet Coaxial Adapter. It’s a popular item we sell at Solid Signal. It connects the coaxial cable from your satellite installation to your home network and enables you to get on-demand programming and other interactive services. It’s a must-have if you want the full DIRECTV satellite experience.

DECA technology is built into some AT&T devices like the HR54 Genie and the Genie 2, but for other installations you need an internal one.

How DECA is different from regular networking

DIRECTV’s coax networking is designed for high-speed, super-smooth transfers. One way that they do this is by making sure that any network traffic between receivers doesn’t go through your home router. The coax network adapters, whether built-in or external, talk to each other first and then go out to the rest of your home network (and the internet) only if they are sure they have to.

Coax networking is used not only for on-demand, but also for the Genie Mini client as well. When you watch live TV, the hard work is done by the Genie DVR and the clients just get a video stream from the DVR. The same is true if you’re using an HR24 DVR to serve programs to another receiver. Super-smooth transfers are important because unlike most streaming options, there is very little buffering taking place with DIRECTV. You want to watch right away, and it has to be perfect the first time.

How AT&T makes this work

In order to make this happen, AT&T builds a network-within-a-network, called a cloud. This cloud lets every device within it connect directly to every other device without a router. Depending on your home network, this cloud could be faster than your home network. It probably has less traffic, and that means smoother connections. DECA clouds also are different from normal networks because every connected device uses an adapter designed by AT&T, and that means that traffic has an easier time getting from place to place.

It’s called a DECA cloud because originally every device needed a DECA adapter in order to connect. Today, those adapters are built into DIRECTV receivers.

One specific limitation of DECA clouds though… each cloud can only have 16 devices, for example 4 DVRs, 11 regular receivers, and 1 “broadband DECA” that links the DECA cloud to the rest of your home network (and the internet.) This limitation is put in place to try to keep traffic as smooth as possible as well.

Will this limit ever be changed?

AT&T DECA is based on the MoCA standard. It’s customized somewhat so it works even better with DIRECTV receivers. There is a newer standard which supports more devices in the same cloud. Later DIRECTV equipment including the Genie 2, C61 client, and GigE DECA adapter. However, if even one older device is used in the same cloud, the whole thing reverts to the earlier standard.

If you’re looking for the best in DIRECTV accessories, shop the great selection at Solid Signal!

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.