Christmas fairy lights ‘could slow down broadband’

Fairy lights on Christmas trees could cause slower broadband speeds, regulator Ofcom has warned. Picture: PA

Fairy lights on Christmas trees could cause slower broadband speeds, regulator Ofcom has warned. Picture: PA

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THEY are popular decorations currently being taken out of storage for another year to decorate homes and workplaces across Scotland.

But fans of on-demand televions and online gaming may find that their Christmas Day is ruined by the decorative fairy lights twinkling on the nation’s fireplaces and Christmas trees as a warning from telecoms regulator Ofcom revealed they can interfere with wi-fi signals.

Many of us will be bringing Christmas cheer into our homes over the coming weeks, without realising we could be disrupting our own broadband

Robert McKechnie - TenTel

The watchdog said that the lights – along with household appliances such as baby monitors, microwaves and lamps – can zap the signals, making it difficult for householders and office staff to stay connected.

Ofcom advised that devices which could interfere with connectivity should be placed well away from router boxes.

The report said: “Wireless broadband may not be working as well as it could in nearly six million UK homes and offices, according to the Ofcom research. This is often caused by the wi-fi set-up in the house slowing down broadband.

“It could be down to something as simple as interference from other electronic devices, such as a microwave, baby ­monitor, a lamp – or even Christmas lights.”

The regulator has launched a new app, which allows people to check their wi-fi connection for problems, as well as offering advice on how to improve the signal.

Recent data from Ofcom showed that a quarter of internet users regularly catches up on programmes online, using on-demand services such as BBC iPlayer or Netflix, compared with just one in ten in 2007.

Robert McKechnie, managing director of Selkirk-based ­telecoms firm TenTel, said: “Many of us will be bringing Christmas cheer into our homes over the coming weeks, without realising we could be disrupting our own broadband. How many realise those beautiful fairy lights we all love can cause havoc with our wi-fi signal?”

He added: “This is a fantastic early Christmas present from Ofcom. Its advice to make sure your router is a reasonable distance from electrical devices such as lamps, fairy lights and baby monitors, will ensure we enjoy an undisrupted service over the festive season.”

Ofcom has also improved its mobile coverage checker tool, giving people planning to buy a new phone the chance to test which operator has the best coverage for them at home.

The Mobile Coverage Checker, which lets people zoom to any location on the UK map to receive coverage data for each mobile network, has been enhanced to provide data down to 100 square metres.

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