HDMI Ethernet Cables aka HDMI HEC — Everything You Need to Know

HDMI ethernet channel enabled cables can make your TV a source of internet connection for other devices. There is plenty of information available but you should be wary as they may not all be accurate. Our experts did the legwork and compiled the necessary information about these cables so you know whether you need them or not. 

What is HDMI HEC?

A standard HDMI cable carries audio and video signals from one device to another. The high definition multimedia interface of HDMI cables has a dedicated channel for audio and video transmission. 

An HDMI ethernet channel allows the transfer of internet signal between connected devices. With this cable, you no longer need separate cables to connect multiple devices and add internet connection. 

While new HDMI cables are backward compatible already, our experts suggest looking for cables that are specifically labelled as HDMI with ethernet in order to use its features. Price differences for these cables do not vary that much.

What Does it Do?

The HDMI cable with ethernet channel (HEC) was introduced together with ccARC functionality in HDMI v1.4 back in 2009. Ever since, this HDMI ethernet channel functionality is connected into a modem or router which then carry data to the TV. Then, high speed HDMI cables will be connected to other devices like gaming consoles and Blu-ray player. All the devices connected to it will share the internet connection that was fed into it.

HDMI cables on wooden table

The goal is to make your TV the source of the internet for all other devices and limit the use of one ethernet cable only. Hence, you would only need a single cable to connect your TV to the router. You can check the owner’s manual to identify if it is compatible. 

However, it did not gain traction as there was a need to install a port for a dedicated data channel of HEC on the TV.

How Does it Work?

An HDMI cable with ethernet channel built into it can transfer audio and digital video data between two devices. A regular high speed HDMI cable has 19 pins that can transfer data of all types as long as they are compatible devices. 

Many of these pins are wound to each other forming what we call as twisting pairs or shielded twisted pairs. An HDMI capable of ethernet connection uses the straight through wires as twisted pairs in order to support ethernet connection. 

HDMI port

This setting does not interfere with the function of the other pins to deliver high quality audio and high definition video for your home entertainment system. Instead, most HDMI standard cables come with ethernet channel capabilities. 

The three types of HDMI cables are: standard HDMI with ethernet, high-speed HDMI with ethernet, and ultra high-speed HDMI with ethernet. As most HDMI cables already have a dedicated channel for internet, you now only have to identify if your device is HEC compatible.

Common Uses

If there is a need to use a wired connection over long distances, then an HDMI ethernet channel can be used. You can also use a regular HDMI cable and use ethernet converter as HDMI cables do not work well in long distances. 

You can also use an HDMI ethernet channel when watching movies over DVDs or playing games. Just connect the TV to the modem using this cable then use a high speed cable to connect the other devices. 

(Want to know how far a cable can go? Then, you can check this post about the types and max length of an HDMI cable

With ARC or eARC

HDMI cable with ethernet channel can be used in HDMI Audio Return Channel (ARC) and CEC connections. Here, the shielded wire pairs are used to communicate data with other devices.

hdmi port sizes

The HDMI ethernet channel cables use the same pin as HDMI ARC so if it is labeled as HDMI HEC, then it is also ARC. Our sound experts state that any new HDMI cable built within the last ten years has this functionality. 

Enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC) [1] is available in HDMI version 2.1 onwards. It is an upgraded version of ARC which delivers better picture quality and audio quality for your sound system. eARC is more commonly used for devices in the home entertainment system. 

Also read: 

Coaxial speaker cable 


What is the difference between HDMI and HDMI with Ethernet?

The difference between HDMI and HDMI with ethernet is the type of data they carry. A regular HDMI cable is able to carry both audio and video  data across connected devices. On the  other hand, HDMI ethernet cables can carry those mentioned data as well as internet data. 

HEC removes the need for an ethernet cable connected to different devices as it becomes the one cable needed to transfer internet to the TV. This device will then be the source of the internet for all other equipment connected to it. 

HDMI cables made during the last decade usually have this ethernet functionality. However, many users do not use it for this purpose.

Is an HDMI cable the same as an ethernet cable?

No, an HDMI cable is not the same as an ethernet cable. The former is used to connect devices and transfer audiovisual data. It is usually seen in home entertainment systems. On the other hand, the latter is used to deliver internet connections. It can also connect devices into a local network.


Connecting the TV to the modem through HDMI ethernet cables removes the need for multiple ethernet wires connected to all other devices. Our engineers found this method to be practical but did not catch on as most devices do not support the feature. HDMI ARC or eARC was used more than this technology.

For HDMI helpful tips and tricks, we have the following guides for you: 


Willie Greer
Willie Greer
Willie Greer is the founder of The Product Analyst. A cinephile, he has made it a personal quest to achieve the awesomest home theater possible. He now shares what he has learned through the years on the site, and has enlisted the help of tech-savvy colleagues in providing more insight about today’s most sought-after gadgets.