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Fairy lights could slow down Wi-Fi at Christmas, Ofcom warns

People could be hit by internet problems this Christmas, Ofcom warns as it launches a new app

Andrew Griffin
Tuesday 01 December 2015 10:57 GMT
Claridge's Christmas tree
Claridge's Christmas tree

Christmas fairy lights can slow down your broadband, Ofcom has warned.

Electronics including microwaves, baby monitors or lights on a tree can get interfere with wireless signals and slow down internet connections, the watchdog has said.

The warning came as Ofcom released an app that can measure users’ broadband connections and then offer tips for how to improve it if it is having problems.

The company claims that six millions hopes might be having problems with their broadband. And those issues are often caused by problems with the Wi-Fi.

Those issues can be caused by any electronics devices, such as lamps, Christmas fairy lights or a microwave oven.

It’s unlikely that just having fairy lights in the house would cause any major problems with the wireless connection. But if they are placed between the device and the router, for instance, then they could cause interference with the connection and so slow it down.

Wi-Fi interference can also come from other places, like having a lot of wireless routers in one place or having thick walls between a device and the router.

Wireless connections can be improved and sped up by using a wireless bridge to help boost the signal, or by moving the router or device to a less blocked place.

Together with the extra people and new devices that are likely to be connecting to networks during the Christmas period, users could see their wireless connections slow down or get hit by connectivity issues.

Ofcom said that its research had shown that there had been “good progress” with getting houses onto super-fast broadband. But people could be seeing their internet connection slow down because problems with their Wi-Fi connection mean they don’t get to enjoy all of the extra speed.

The research also found that people were using their fast connections for much more data, which would also increase the load on the networks. More and more people are using their internet connection to watch on-demand TV and make video calls, for example.

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