How to Use the Ethernet Port on Smart TV

How to Use the Ethernet Port on Smart TV

As I was streaming a 4K Ultra HD movie on my Sony Smart TV, I noticed constant buffering issues as the TV kept getting disconnected from WiFi. Puzzled by the wireless network issue, I thought of switching to a wired connection to resume watching the movie in no time. 

However, I wasn’t quite sure if my TV had an ethernet port and how to use it, so I referred to the official Sony website and online forums for help. Spending over an hour on research, I learned more about ethernet ports on Smart TVs and the compatible ethernet cables as well. 

Here’s how to use the ethernet port and boost network speeds over a wired connection on Smart TVs: 

The ethernet port is used to establish a wired internet connection on your Smart TV. Simply insert one end of the ethernet cable into the ethernet port of your TV, and the other end into your internet router.

Use The Ethernet Port on Your Smart TV 

Most modern Smart TVs have ethernet ports that allow them to connect to the internet via a wired connection in case the WiFi is unavailable or not working properly. The ethernet port is usually located near the HDMI and USB ports. 

To connect to the internet by using the ethernet port on your Smart TV, you’ll need an ethernet cable. An ethernet cable is used to connect WiFi routers to external devices such as TVs, laptops, and computers to create a wired internet connection.  

To connect your Smart TV to the internet using an ethernet cable, follow these steps:

  • Connect the ethernet cable to the LAN port of your WiFi router. Ensure that the router is turned on and the network connection is stable. 
  • Connect the other end of the cable to your Smart TV’s ethernet port and make sure that it’s firmly plugged in. 
  • Turn on your Smart TV and go to Settings. Now select Network Settings and check for an ethernet connection. 
  • If the ethernet connection is visible, the TV is now connected to the internet through a wired connection. 
  • To confirm if the connection is successful, launch any app that requires an internet connection such as YouTube or Netflix. 

Types of Ethernet Cables 

To get high-speed internet and seamless connectivity through a wired connection, the correct choice of ethernet cable is essential. If you use any older generation ethernet cable, it’s likely that you may face connection issues including slow internet speeds. 

Ethernet cables are mainly categorized based on bandwidth, maximum data rate (speed), and shielding. These ethernet cables are named “Cat” numbers. The word “cat” simply indicates a category, for example, Cat6. Higher cat numbers generally indicate higher frequencies and faster speeds. 

Ethernet Cable TypeShieldingMaximum FrequencySpeed
Cat 3No 16 MHz10 Mbps
Cat 4No20 MHz20 Mbps
Cat 5No100 MHz100 Mbps
Cat 5eNo 100 MHz1 Gbps
Cat 6Sometimes250 MHz1 Gbps 
Cat 6a Sometimes500 MHz10 Gbps 
Cat 7 Yes 600 MHz10 Gbps 
Cat 8Yes2 GHz40 Gbps 

To help you select the best ethernet cable based on your requirements, let’s have a look at the different types of ethernet cables in detail: 

Cat 1 to Cat 4    

Considered as the old generation ethernet cables, the Category 1 to 4 cables offered very slow data rates when compared to modern networks. However, back in the 90s, these cable categories were highly popular as they were used as wiring for voice telephone systems, voice and data communication, digital voice communications, etc. 

Cat 5 and Cat 5e 

Category 5 cable offers a data rate of up to 100 Mbps. Generally used for fast ethernet networks, the category 5 cable can data signals at up to 100 meters (328ft.). 

Cat5e is not a standard designation but it is used by manufacturers to describe enhanced category 5 cables that provide network speeds up to 1 Gbps. Cat 5e is the most commonly used ethernet cable category, mainly due to its lower production cost and faster network speeds. 

Cat 6 and Cat 6a

The Cat 6 ethernet cables support network speeds up to 10 Gbps for up to 55 meters. These cables are tightly wound and outfitted with foil or braided shielding. 

The shielding helps prevent twisted pairs of wires inside the ethernet cable, eliminating any chance of noise interference or unwanted signal transfers (crosstalk). With a higher data rate, extended range, and better shielding, Cat 6 cables are more expensive than Cat 5 and Cat 5e categories. 

Cat 6a represents the augmented version of Cat 6 cable that supports twice the maximum bandwidth and also maintains higher transmission speeds over longer cable lengths. Cat 6a cables are denser and less flexible than Cat 6 ones. 

Cat 7 and Cat 7a

Though Cat 7 and Cat 7a support higher bandwidths and faster transmission speeds, they’re still not preferred by most users. Cat 7 cables support data rates up to 100 Gbps at a range of 15 meters. These cables are always shielded and use a modified GigaGate45 connector, backward compatible with the standard RJ45 Ethernet ports. 

The difference in connectors led to several connection issues based on the previous ethernet standards and the backward compatibility didn’t help much in solving them. This is the major reason why the Cat 7 and Cat 7a cables were avoided by manufacturers making them rarely available. 

Cat 8 

Category 8 ethernet cables are the latest and most advanced ethernet cable category available today. These cables support up to a maximum frequency of 2000 MHz and super fast speeds of up to 40 Gbps at 30 meters range. 

A Cat 8 cable meets the highest ethernet standards making it the best choice to have a future-ready network setup. Though the cost is significantly higher, Cat 8 cables also sort the connector issues related to the Cat 7 variant. 

Choose The Best Ethernet Cable 

Based on the different types of ethernet cables available, it can be difficult to choose what type would suit the best for you. 

The easiest way to select a cable type is by determining your speed, range, and performance requirements. 

  • To start with, consider your internet speed as the major factor. If your network supports speeds up to 1 Gbps, old ethernet cables won’t be a suitable choice. Alternatively, if you have a slower internet connection of 40-100 Mbps, Cat 5 or newer cables can be an affordable choice. 
  • Currently, most major network carriers offer speeds up to 1 gigabit per second. If you have the fastest internet access or you’re planning to upgrade from a basic internet plan, going for Cat 6a cable is a good choice. This is because a Cat 6a cable provides space for future speed upgrades and is not as expensive as the Cat 7 or Cat 8 variants. 
  •  For smooth streaming even at the highest resolutions (up to 4K) on Smart TVs or other devices, the recommended internet speed is up to 25 Mbps. I’d recommend choosing Cat 5e, Cat 6, or Cat 6a ethernet cable for the best streaming experience as they support network speeds up to 1000 Mbps at about 328 feet range. This should be more than enough for high-quality streaming over different OTT platforms on your Smart TV based on the current internet plan. 

Is Ethernet Better Than WiFi For Smart TVs? 

While a wireless WiFi connection offers the best convenience, a wired ethernet connection is highly reliable. An ethernet cable creates a direct connection between your router and Smart TV, allowing higher network speeds and a stable internet connection. 

WiFi connections can be highly affected by large objects including walls, home appliances, and other electronic devices. Using a wired connection eliminates any chance of network interference that can lead to a significant loss in network speeds. 

A weak wireless connection due to network interference or distance between the router and Smart TV can lead to buffering or a decrease in picture quality during streaming. 

For seamless connectivity with stable internet speed and no network interruptions due to signal interference, ethernet is a better option than WiFi for Smart TVs. 

However, if your connection is consistently stable and the router is installed at an ideal distance from your Smart TV, you don’t necessarily have to go through the hassle of connecting your router and Smart TV through an ethernet cable. 

Bonus Tip: Use a USB to Ethernet Adapter on Smart TV to Boost The Internet Speed 

As discussed above, most streaming platforms recommend up to 25 Mbps internet speed for streaming content up to 4K resolutions. When connected to an ethernet cable, Smart TVs support speeds up to 100 Mbps based on your internet plan. This is because most Smart TVs have a 10/100 ethernet port installed which is capped at 100 Mbps speed. 

To bypass this speed limitation and get speeds over 100 Mbps on Smart TVs, manufacturers assume that users will prefer connecting their TV to WiFi. Though WiFi connection speeds can easily cross 100 Mbps, this doesn’t eliminate the chance of signal interference or unstable network issues related to wireless connections. 

Currently, the maximum recommended internet speed for streaming content on most popular streaming platforms including Netflix, Disney Plus, and Apple TV does not exceed 40 Mbps. This implies that most Smart TV users won’t need internet speeds over 100 Mbps. 

However, you may be streaming 4K HDR content over Plex or any other streaming platform that requires a network speed of over 100 Mbps. Moreover, Sony’s new Bravia Core streaming service also recommends a minimum internet speed of 115 Mbps which exceeds the capped speed of 100 Mbps for the TV’s ethernet port. 

In case you’re planning or have already upgraded to an internet plan between 200 Mbps to 1 Gbps, the best alternative to bypass this limitation without using WiFi is to buy a USB to Ethernet Adapter. The adapter allows you to connect your ethernet cable via a USB port on your TV. This significantly boosts the internet speed on your Smart TV when connected through a wired connection. 

Here’s how to boost the internet speed on your Smart TV via USB to Ethernet Adapter:

  • Connect the USB to Ethernet Adapter to the USB port of your Smart TV. Prefer plugging it into a USB 3.0 input of your TV (if available) for the best results. 
  • Now insert the ethernet cable (Cat 5e, 6, or 6a if available) in the other end of the adapter. 
  • Make sure that the other end of the ethernet cable is connected to your gigabit router. 
  • Now go to network settings on your Smart TV to confirm if the ethernet connection is successful. Also, ensure that the WiFi is turned off. 
  • Once the connection is established, perform a speed test or try streaming any 4K HDR content that requires over 100 Mbps speed. 

Note that not every Smart TV supports the USB to Ethernet adapter. I’d recommend going through the TV manufacturer’s official forums or customer support team to confirm if the adapter is compatible with your TV. 

Use the Ethernet Port on Your TV for the Best Network Connection  

Your Smart TV can be connected to the internet using an ethernet cable. Simply plug one end of the ethernet cable into your TV’s ethernet port and the other end into the router. 

There are several types of ethernet cables available based on speed, bandwidth, and shielding. The most commonly used ethernet cables are Cat 5e which supports up to 1Gbps speed. 

As an affordable and high-end alternative, Cat 6 or Cat 6a ethernet cable can be considered the best option for your Smart TV. These cables are shielded to avoid electromagnetic interference and support high internet speeds up to 10 Gbps. 

The Cat 8 ethernet cables are based on the latest ethernet technology and support a bandwidth of up to 2 GHz. These cables provide the highest data transfer speeds (up to 40Gbps) as compared to any other variant. 

If you’re facing buffering or stuttering issues while streaming 4K HDR content over platforms such as Plex or Sony Bravia Core, the issue might be related to your TV’s ethernet port. Most TVs have a 10/100 ethernet port installed that supports internet speeds up to 100 Mbps only. 

For a highly reliable wired network connection on your TV with over 100 Mbps speed through an ethernet cable, opt for a USB to Ethernet Adapter. The device allows you to connect an ethernet cable via the USB port of your Smart TV and bypass the speed limit of your TV’s ethernet port. 

Frequently Asked Questions  

What is the ethernet port on a Smart TV used for?

The ethernet port on a Smart TV is used to connect the TV directly to your home network using an ethernet cable. This allows you to access the internet and stream content without using Wi-Fi. To establish a wired internet connection on your Smart TV, insert one end of the ethernet cable into the TV’s ethernet port. While ensuring that your router is turned on. Insert the other end of the ethernet cable into the LAN port of the router to enable internet on your Smart TV. 

Can I use any ethernet cable to connect my Smart TV to the internet? 

While many ethernet cables will work with Smart TVs, it is recommended to use a high-quality cable that meets the Cat 5e, Cat 6, or Cat 6a standards for best results. This is because older generation cables may provide slower internet speeds that may lead to buffering or lagging issues. Modern ethernet cables are shielded to prevent any type of electromagnetic interference and support high internet speeds of up to 1 Gbps for the best streaming experience including 4K Ultra HDR content. 

Will using the ethernet port on my Smart TV improve streaming quality?

Using the ethernet port on your Smart TV can help improve streaming quality by providing a more stable and reliable internet connection compared to Wi-Fi. As ethernet cables create a direct connection between your Smart TV and router, it helps eliminate any possible network interference that may lead to slow internet speeds or an unstable network. Though a WiFi connection can be the best in terms of convenience, an ethernet connection is highly recommended for a seamless streaming experience over a stable network. 

Is there any way to bypass the 100 Mbps speed limit of the ethernet port on Smart TVs?

The best alternative to bypass the capped speed of the ethernet port on a Smart TV is switching to a WiFi connection. However, a wireless connection may be unstable due to network interference or the router being too far from the TV. 

In that case, the best option is to use a USB to Ethernet Adapter as it allows you to connect the ethernet cable via the USB port of your Smart TV. This can be useful if you’re facing buffering issues while streaming Ultra HD content on Plex or any other streaming platform. Make sure that you connect the adapter to USB 3.0 input for the best results. 

About the author

Maria Chan, or MC, as we call her, is the genius girl-boss who gave up on her cushy silicon-valley job to grind it out with us. Her undying pursuit of wanting Zeebox to the best makes it very clear that she has no interest in running a generic tech-site.

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