You’re in the middle of decking the halls when you hop onto Pinterest for a last-minute tree-trimming idea. Except the mission is anything but quick: you stare at your screen impatiently while waiting for it to load, wondering if you’re running off your dial-up connection from 1996.
Before you call your ISP to ream them out, take a look around your house. According to communications regulator Ofcom, your Christmas lights could be to blame. Overall, it estimates over 5 million homes in the UK could improve their Wi-Fi speed by simply rearranging their electronics equipment.
“It could be down to something as simple as interference from other electronic devices, such as a microwave over, baby monitor, a lamp – or even Christmas fairy lights,” states Ofcom, in a press release.
It has launched a new app allowing consumers and businesses to check their Wi-Fi set-up, test speeds and troubleshoot connection issues. It runs on tablets and smartphones.
The staff in ArsTechnica’s UK office took the app for a spin, and while they didn’t find it to be the best way to test a network, it did do a good job of identifying interference from outside sources.
“Using the app in the vicinity of a microwave, for example, data loss went from zero percent to eight percent,” wrote Mark Walton. “That wasn’t enough to trigger a warning, although the app doesn’t offer any particularly useful advice when it does. Instead, it suggests some basic tips like moving the router, restarting the router, and ‘use an Ethernet cable,’ which most people are likely to have tried at one point or another already.”