Broadband Interference and Christmas tree lights

There are various sources of broadband interference which can cause slow downs or drops outs on your broadband service. At Christmas, it is common for Christmas lights to produce interference that will affect your broadband. This video shows how you can find interference problems using a simple AM radio.

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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Andrew Ferguson. On behalf of all of us here at thinkbroadband we'd like to wish you a Merry Christmas.

At this time of year we often see lots of reports of broadband slowing down. The Christmas season means that more people are at home with their families so broadband networks can be quite busy. But did you know that the problems sometimes are even closer to home than you think.

If you have a broadband service delivered through a telephone line, and that means most services apart from Virgin Media cable services, your may find that at this time of year that your broadband slows down through radio interference or sometimes even completely cuts out for a few seconds.

The sources of this radio interference can be many different things. It can be TV's; it can be your boiler switching on and off, it can be almost anything that is electrical. But one of the most common problems at this time of year is Christmas lights, particularly those where the lights are blinking.

There is a neat trick you can use to detect radio interference with your broadband and that is to use an AM radio. The reason an AM radio is useful is because broadband and AM radio share the same set of frequencies. Although, of course you have to make sure it is not a DAB radio because these use a completely different set of frequencies.

To test this switch your radio to the AM band and tune it to around 600kHz. Try putting it next to an electrical circuit such as your light switch.

Once this works, put the radio close to or under your Christmas tree. Then switch on your Christmas tree lights. If you can hear a difference in the static noise from the radio, it is possible this will cause interference with your broadband signal. Especially if your router is near or the telephone line runs by the Christmas tree.

We would recommend if possible that you avoid placing your Christmas tree and Christmas tree lights near to your broadband router or telephone line. Adjoining properties of course can also be another source of interference but generally as those are a few metres away from your own property, the chance of it causing problems are a lot less.

We hope you find this tip useful and we look forward to giving you more advice over the next year on how to avoid broadband problems. And hopefully in years to come, once we have all switch to fully fibre optic broadband connections, i.e. fibre-to-the-home, this whole problems of radio interference on our broadband connections will completely vanish.