Fairy lights causing Wi-Fi slowdown

This Christmas season might not only bring snow and merriment, but also slower Wi-Fi speeds, though the reason may be a little surprising.

Ofcom has found that fairy lights could impair Wi-Fi speeds, by slowing down signals as they travel through homes and offices.

Fairy lights weren’t the only typical household object found to be guilty of slowing down Wi-Fi, though. Computer and stereo speakers could also play a part, as could halogen lamps, dimmer switches, microwave ovens, radiators, cordless telephones and kettles.

This is down to the way Wi-Fi travels – electromagnetic waves. As many of the aforementioned household objects generate electromagnetic fields around them, they interfere with Wi-Fi signals passing through.

6 million households affected

Closeup of Christmas lights glowing

It’s said that more than six million British households are having to deal with slower-than-average Wi-Fi speeds, which could be solved by making a few simple changes around the house – without needing to invest in signal boosters. As such, Ofcom has released an app for homeowners to check their own Wi-Fi speeds, help them diagnose any issues and find potential solutions.

Homeowners worried about having to put away their fairy lights or go without speakers needn’t worry, though. Ofcom said that wireless routers could instead be moved to a better place in the house for signal to reach everywhere it’s needed.

On the whole, Ofcom said that the availability of telecoms services to British consumers had seen “good progress” in recent times. Over the past year, the number of homes with superfast broadband (capable of reaching 30MB per second or more) had risen from 21 per cent – or six million homes – to 27 per cent, nearer 7.5 million homes.

Furthermore, those with faster speeds are now, for the first time, doing more with them. Households enjoying speeds of more than 40MB per second are typically downloading more data than most others.

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