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Fairy lights interfering with WiFi

Festive lights can be source of interference for home WiFi networks

Fairy lights interfering with WiFi
Fairy lights can cause electrical interference which can disrupt WiFi networks.

Fairy lights could be causing interference with WiFi signals, according to a new report from UK telecommunications regulator Ofcom.

The regulator has warned that the twinkling lights, used for decoration during festivals such as Christmas and Diwali, could cause electrical interference that will impact WiFi speeds.

Ofcom said that many homes and offices could be suffering with slower connection speeds from their WiFi networks due to poor configuration or other factors including electrical interference from devices such as microwave ovens, baby monitors or fairy lights.

Interference can be caused by devices that use the same frequencies as WiFi, or radio frequency noise can be generated as a byproduct of devices like microwave ovens. Power supplies for larger devices such as TVs can also generate short range interference.

Ofcom has released a mobile app that will enable users to test their WiFi set up. The Ofcom Wi-Fi Checker, which runs on smartphones and tablets, allows consumers and businesses to discover the quality of their wireless internet signal wherever they live or work - as well as offering practical steps to help people get the best from their connection. The app is free to download now from Apple's App Store and Google Play.

The app has been released alongside of a new report on the state of broadband services in the UK, which also identified that users with ‘superfast' broadband - speeds of 40Mbps or more - use significantly more data than users with slower speed connections. Faster broadband means consumers can connect more devices to the internet at the same time, particularly on Wi-Fi where a connection can be shared throughout the home. Better broadband also means more usage of services such as catch-up TV, online film rental and video calls.

The regulator noted that a 10Mbps connection speed is the tipping point, for user satisfaction with services. Above 10Mbps, users generally describe broadband experience as ‘good'.

Sharon White, Ofcom chief executive, said: "Mobile and broadband have become the fourth essential service, alongside gas, electricity and water. It's vital that consumers have the tools they need, such as the new Wi-Fi Checker, to get the most out of their communications."

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