Does Roku Need Wi-Fi/Internet? (Detailed Answer)

Roku streaming devices have become massively popular in recent years, but one feature that confuses some people looking into them is whether they include internet and/or require internet in order to work properly. Do you need a Wi-Fi or internet connection to use Roku devices? Or can they work without this?

An internet connection is required to use most of Roku’s features, such as streaming content via apps and live channels. However, you can use these devices offline in a limited way, such as streaming content via USB storage devices or via a TV antenna.

Therefore the bottom line answer is that yes, almost all users will need a Wi-Fi/internet connection to properly use Roku devices in the way they want to. There’s limited offline functionality, but it probably won’t satisfy most user’s needs. Realistically, you do need internet to use Roku.

Let’s drill down into the different online and offline use cases for Roku devices.

An Internet Connection Is Required To Properly Use Roku

To use the bulk of the main features and functionality of any Roku device (including streaming on demand or live content on the service), you do need an internet connection. The Roku device is meant to use the existing connection from your wireless router to stream the content you want. All Roku devices are Wi-Fi enabled, but they still need to connect to a Wi-Fi router to be used.

This means you do need an internet service installed separate from the Roku device and account you have (Roku does not come with internet included). You then connect the Roku device to your Wi-Fi router (2.4 GHz band only), and from there you can stream content as you please.

These devices are primarily designed to stream content from the internet, and therefore need a solid, high speed connection to be used properly (recommended speeds are 3 Mbps for SD streaming, 9 Mbps for HD streaming and 25 Mbps+ for 4K streaming).

Once you have your Roku device connected to the internet, you can do the following:

  • Stream content on popular apps like YouTube
  • Stream content from services like Netflix, Amazon Video etc.
  • Stream content from any other on demand or catch-up TV app/service available on Roku (the exact apps available will vary depending on your country)
  • Watch any local or national TV channels also available on Roku
  • Watch live news channels.
  • Watch live sports when available on certain apps.

Connecting Your Roku Device To The Internet (Different Methods)

Assuming you do want to make full use of a Roku device’s features, there’s a couple of different ways you can connect it to the internet.

Option #1 – Ethernet/Wired Connection (recommended) – This is for the Roku streaming boxes, most of which have ethernet ports on the back somewhere, as do some Roku TV models. You just plug an RJ-45 ethernet cable into the port on the back of the Roku…

Then plug the cable into the ethernet port on the back of your router, and your Roku device is then connected to the internet and ready to go after setup. Wired connections are always preferred for streaming as they deliver the highest bandwidth for best picture quality and experience.

Option #2 – Wireless connection – Set up your Roku device, then select wireless from the connection setup screen. Find your router’s SSID/network on the list (some Roku devices only work on 2.4 GHz networks), and enter it’s password to connect your Roku device to your home network. You should now be set to go streaming content, although wireless connections can deliver lower speeds and be more unreliable than wired connections.

Connect Roku To Router with Wi-Fi (Quick Demo)


Option #3 – USB to Ethernet Adapter – A limited number of models (Roku Express 4K 3940 and Roku Streambar 9102) support this feature, where there isn’t an ethernet port but you can use the USB port instead. You can buy a USB to Ethernet Adapter, plus into the device’s USB, then connect an ethernet cable and plug into your router for a wired connection. See here for a guide on doing this.

Watching Content On Roku Without An Internet Connection

There are some ways you can effectively use Roku devices without an internet connection, although functionality is a lot more limited than if you have it connected online.

Method #1 – USB Stick/SD Card – You can plug a USB device or SD card into most Roku devices and stream content off these devices on the Roku device and in turn onto a TV without needing an internet connection. You use the Roku Media Player app on the device to play content from external storage devices (see here for a guide on doing this).

Method #2 – Phone Mirroring – You can also effectively broadcast what’s on a phone screen to a Roku device, without the Roku needing to be online (the phone however will need to be online to stream content). See here for a full guide on how to do this for different phone models.

Method #3 – Aerial/ATSC Tuner (Roku TV) – Roku TV models have a built in ATSC tuner that does allow for watching local TV content via antenna reception, which doesn’t actually require an internet connection as the signal is being received the old fashioned “analogue” way via an aerial/antenna. To do this, connect the antenna to your Roku TV, then go to Settings…..TV Inputs….Antenna TV….Set Up Input,  and follow the steps on screen. See here for a guide on doing this.


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