Fri. Apr 10th, 2020

Brits told not to use the microwave to conserve Wi-Fi

3 min read

Stay away from that microwave if you want a faster Wi-Fi signal (Getty Images/Onoky)

Stay away from that microwave if you want a faster Wi-Fi signal (Getty Images/Onoky)

It’s slightly strange tech advice, but Brits are being told not to use the microwave at the same time as their Wi-Fi to improve connection speeds.

The message comes from media regulator Ofcom, which is issuing the advice to help Brits cope amid the coronavirus lockdown. At a time when our internet signal is the connection to the outside world, it’s crucial to keep it running as speedily as possible.

‘Did you know that microwave ovens can also reduce wi-fi signals?’ Ofcom writes.

‘So don’t use the microwave when you’re making video calls, watching HD videos or doing something important online.’

The warning comes as broadband providers like BT’s Openreach are reporting a 20% surge in usage as millions of people are now working and learning from home.

Other tips from Ofcom to secure the most reliable Wi-Fi connection possible include:

  • Position your internet router as far as possible from other devices that may interfere with the signal, such as on a table or shelf rather than the floor.
  • Keep your router switched on.
  • If you’re carrying out video calls or meetings, turning the video off and using audio will require much less of your internet connection.
  • Try starting those calls at less common times, rather than on the hour or half hour.
  • For the best broadband speeds, use an ethernet cable to connect your computer directly to your router rather than using Wi-Fi.
  • Where possible, try not to use a telephone extension lead, as these can cause interference which could lower your speed.

BT-owned Openreach – which maintains the telephone cables and cabinets across the country used by most broadband providers – said that, despite the jump, usage is still lower than the usual peaks it experiences in the evening.

Internet usage has surged as many of us are now working remotely (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Internet usage has surged as many of us are now working remotely (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

‘We’re not seeing any significant issues across our broadband or phone network,’ an Openreach spokesman said. ‘We’ve seen a circa 20% increase in daytime usage over our fibre network, but that’s in line with what we expected and not as high as the usage levels we see during evening peak times.’

Meanwhile, Virgin Media has reported similar rise in demand, but said its network is ‘built to withstand this daily evening peak, and right now is comfortably accommodating this daytime increase’.

A BT home hub 5 inside a residential property as shares in the company dropped nearly 4% after the Labour Party announced plans to turn broadband into a public service. PA Photo. Picture date: Friday November 15, 2019. Labour has costed the policy at ??20 billion, saying it will deliver free full-fibre internet to every home and business by 2030 if it wins the General Election. See PA story POLITICS Election Labour. Photo credit should read: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Wi-Fi is our link to the outside world (PA)

‘Despite increased data use on our network, we’re not at capacity and are continuing to provide our customers with the ultrafast and reliable services they expect,’ said Jeanie York, Virgin Media’s chief technology and information officer.

‘The coronavirus pandemic has still not pushed up demand to the levels seen during recent computer game releases or when multiple premier league games were streamed simultaneously.

‘While we don’t know exactly what lies ahead, it’s clear that our network is performing a more critical role and we’re committed to playing our part in keeping the country connected.’



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