Christmas fairy lights slow down Wi-Fi speed, says Ofcom

Christmas tree lights are among a number of factors that may show down your home Wi-Fi, says Ofcom. The telecom regulator based this fact on a research it conducted on Wi-Fi speeds in homes and offices in the UK.

However, Professor Will Stewart from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) has questioned this rather simplistic explanation.

He has commented that wireless devices can indeed pose problems but most consumers should be more worried about the link from their house to the exchange, rather than by their local Wi-Fi.

"The new Ofcom app works well and will show people that their local Wi-Fi is not the issue. In any case, Wi-Fi systems are getting quite smart and should adapt automatically to cope with things like other Wi-Fi networks and with most other interference, including from fairy lights. Many systems also have access to the higher-frequency Wi-Fi bands, which helps. “The problem arises for people with very old Wi-Fi base stations who might need to upgrade or extend their networks, as might people who use high speed Wi-Fi for things like streaming satellite TV.

Ofcom's research had suggested that things like Christmas lights, baby monitors, microwaves and other electronic devices can cause interference to your Wi-Fi signals. This was a minor glitch in Ofcom's 2015 Connected Nations report which also revealed that over 83 per cent homes in the UK now have access to super-fast broadband, up from 75 per cent last year.

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Ofcom's report also says that people using super-fast broadband are consuming more data by using services like video calls, online movie rentals, music streaming and others. However, there's still work to be done as more than 2 million homes across the country still do not have access to data speeds of 10 Mbps or more. Over 50 per cent of all small and medium enterprises also do not have access to speeds in excess of 10 Mbps.

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Ofcom has now launched a new Wi-Fi app which can sample signals emanating from your home Wi-Fi and determine if signals are flowing smoothly between routers and your mobile phone or tablet.

Named the Ofcom Wi-Fi Checker, the app will also offer practical steps to users on how to use Wi-Fi signals most appropriately. Among other suggestions, the app will ask you to either keep your router away from other electronic devices, keep it at a location where it is not surrounded by walls or connect your computer to the router through an ethernet cable to avoid loss of signal.

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