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How to connect your TV or set-top box to the Internet

Some help and advice on how to connect your TV or set-top box to the Internet for on-demand content and catch-up TV services.

Why connect to the Internet?

Many of the new digital TV sets and set-top boxes on the market come with an Internet connector as standard. There’s a whole range of new services now available to connected-TV sets and set-top boxes, such as:

  • Watch catch-up TV services such as BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4oD from Channel 4 and Demand 5
  • Movie services such as Now TV, LoveFilm, Netflix and Blinkbox
  • On-demand TV shows, from providers such as BT Vision
  • Watch TV content from computers on your home network or wireless laptop
  • Watch Internet-only channels on your TV (e.g. Connect TV on Freeview)

To get these services, you’ll need to have a digital TV service, and a way of connecting your hardware to the Internet. First off, here’s a summary of the various services:

 

Virgin Media TV Service

Virgin Media LogoTo get Virgin’s TV service, you’ll need a box connected to the Virgin Media fibre optic network. As Virgin’s installers do this for you, there’s no help we can offer you here on how to hook it up.

If you’re in a cable TV area and not yet signed up to the Virgin Media TV service, find out more at virginmedia.com

YouView

YouView combines live TV from Freeview, with on-demand content over the Internet. You can get a YouView box on the high street, or from Internet providers BT and TalkTalk

YouView Ethernet Socket
Ethernet socket on the Humax T1000 YouView box

BT Vision

BT Vision combines live TV from Freeview, with thousands of hours of TV shows and movies that can be streamed over a BT Broadband connection. BT’s offering is all about being connected, and their set-top boxes require connection to a BT Home Hub. Help with this below.

BT Vision V+ Box Ethernet socket
BT Vision V+ Box Ethernet socket

Freeview Internet TV Service

New Freeview HD boxes, such as the Humax HD Fox T2, have a built-in Ethernet socket for connection to the Internet. This provides access to services such as BBC iPlayer and other services.

Sky Internet TV Service

Sky+ and Sky+HD boxes have an Ethernet socket on the back. This allows Sky+ customers to access on-demand services and movies via the Sky Anytime+ service, and also offers access to catch-up TV services.

Sky HD Box Ethernet Socket
The Ethernet socket on the back of a Sky+HD box

Freesat Internet TV Service

Many of the higher-spec Freesat boxes have an Internet socket. This includes the Humax Foxsat and Humax Foxsat HDR Freesat set-top boxes.

In December 2009, Freesat launched its first Internet-based service – Owners of Freesat HD boxes could connect their boxes to the Internet and watch content from the BBC iPlayer on their TV. Want details of how to get BBC iPlayer on Freesat? See our BBC iPlayer on Freesat section.

Ethernet socket on Humax Foxsat HD Freesat box
Ethernet socket on Humax-HD Freesat box

TalkTalk LogoTalkTalk TV Internet Service

TalkTalk now offers a TV service using YouView. Before this, TalkTalk operated TalkTalk TV – formerly known as Tiscali TV, and before that, HomeChoice. For more details, see our TalkTalk TV section.

 

How to connect your TV / Set-top box to the Internet

If you have a set-top box or digital TV set that’s capable of connecting to the Internet, you may need a little advice on how to do this. Let’s see if we can help.

Step 1: Identify a free Ethernet socket on your Broadband router:

Ethernet sockets on a BT Home Hub
Ethernet sockets on the back of a BT Home Hub Router

Ethernet sockets on a TalkTalk Broadband Router
Ethernet sockets on a TalkTalk Broadband Router

Step 2: Identify the Ethernet or LAN socket on your set-top box or TV set:

Ethernet socket on Humax Foxsat HD Freesat box
Ethernet socket on Humax-HD Freesat box

Step 3: Connect the two Ethernet sockets together:

Now this is often the tricky one, especially if your TV and Internet router are in different parts of the house.

Essentially, you have three options:

A) Run an Ethernet cable from Router to TV/Box. You need to get a CAT5 RJ45 Ethernet patch cable, with an Ethernet plug at each end. These come in lengths from half a metre to 50 metres, and you can order them online from maplin.co.uk

Ethernet cables

B) Move your Router to the same room as your TV / Box: If there’s a phone extension point in the same room as your TV setup, then you could relocate your broadband router to the same room, and connect the two together using a short Ethernet lead

C) Use a Powerline / HomePlug adapter: For many, this will be the solution of choice, as it doesn’t involve running long cables around your home, or relocating your router. These are clever little devices that send computer data safely over your home’s mains wiring.

You get a kit, which has a sender and a receiver – Plug one into a mains socket near your router, and the other one into a mains socket near your TV / Box. Then run an Ethernet lead from the HomePlug unit to the Ethernet socket on the Router and TV box. As if by magic, they will start talking to each other via the mains wiring.

You can buy a set of HomePlugs from PC World , Dabs.com and Maplin.co.uk

Devolo HomePlugs
A set of HomePlugs made by Devolo

 

TV Wireless Connectivity

It’s always surprising that set-top boxes and digital TV sets don’t come with wireless built-in as standard. If you’re looking to use wi-fi for your TV or box, there is an option though: The Netgear Universal Wi-fi adapter.

This little box has an Ethernet socket, and lets you convert a TV or set-top box that only has an Ethernet socket, into something that can connect to a router over wi-fi.

Netgear Universal wi-fi converter

The Netgear wi-fi to Ethernet adapter is available from Amazon, Maplin.co.uk  and PC World

Connectivity Questions

Got a question we can help with? Please get in touch!

 

Related Links:

3 Responses to "How to connect your TV or set-top box to the Internet"

  1. Julie Gibson Says:

    I now have the Netgear WiFi adapter set up, signal light showing connection…now how do I use it??? I may just be dumb, but now have no idea how to access my internet services, e.g. Netflix, through my TV. Connected via digital stream free view+ box. :o(

  2. Philip Says:

    I’ve done all that and my lap top works perfectly on an ethernet cable from my BT infinity router. However my Philips HDTP 8530 tells me I am connected but cannot see the router. IP address etc are all rows of zeros. Is there a problem with BT routers and set top boxes?

  3. jan Says:

    Every router running dd-wrt can act as a wireless bridge to enable wifi for Ethernet TV boxes.

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