British telecoms experts have warned that WiFi might be down over Christmas, for a very specific reason – Christmas itself.

Ofcom have warned that the electrical interference from Christmas lights could be slowing down Wi-Fi due to surges in electrical usage. Electronic devices in general, such as microwave ovens and lamps, can impact upon Wi-Fi signal, but Christmas lights are a particular barrier to Wi-Fi signal due to it being an electrical surge unaccounted for by the national electricity grid.

Engineers should consider how surges disrupt electricity generation and transmission networks. A further example of this is the ‘television pickup’ phenomenon in United Kingdom; this term denotes synchronised surges in national electricity consumption due to people simultaneously using electrical appliances, especially kettles. This occurs due to the commonality of a commercial break – the largest being on 4th July 1990 when the penalty shootout between England and West Germany in the FIFA World Cup Final ended.

Ofcom called a decent internet connection the fourth essential connection, alongside gas, electricity and water. Geography, PPE, and HSPS applicants should consider how Ofcom’s remarks shape the way we think about development.

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