For 18 months, the village of Aberhosan near Machynlleth in rural Wales and its surrounding communities were plagued by a modern-day mystery. Every day, at around 7am, their broadband connectivity would slow down to a halt.
Over the course of a year and a half, residents would regularly complain to their Internet providers, who would send out engineers to take a look and fix the problem. The trouble was that when they arrived, the network would usually be found working normally. The complaints kept coming in, resulting in local engineers replacing large sections of cable serving the area, despite never finding the problem themselves.
Eventually, the operator of the UK's digital network Openreach brought in the big guns in the form of their chief engineering team. The team, contacted by local Openreach engineer Michael Jones, decided on an early morning outing to the village to see if they could pin down the problem.
“Having exhausted all other avenues we wanted to do one final test to see if the fault was being caused by a phenomenon known as SHINE (Single High-level Impulse Noise) where electrical interference is omitted from an appliance that can then have an impact on broadband connectivity," Jones explained in a statement.
“By using a device called a Spectrum Analyser we walked up and down the village in the torrential rain at 6am to see if we could find an ‘electrical noise’ to support our theory. And at 7am, like clockwork, it happened! Our device picked up a large burst of electrical interference in the village."
The source of this ‘electrical noise’ was traced to a resident's property in the village. It was revealed that at 7am every morning the occupant would switch on their old TV like clockwork, which would knock out broadband for the entire village.
Yes, at 7am every morning the Internet was wiped out due to one person's need to watch [checks what's actually available at 7am] Homes Under The Hammer.
“As you can imagine when we pointed this out to the resident, they were mortified that their old second-hand TV was the cause of an entire village’s broadband problems, and they immediately agreed to switch it off and not use it again,” Jones said.
The team noted that this isn't as rare as people think, and many devices can cause similar problems through having roughly the same frequency as your Wi-Fi, though not usually on a village-wide scale.
"Anything with electric components – from outdoor lights to microwaves to CCTV cameras can potentially have an impact on your broadband connection," Suzanne Rutherford, Openreach Chief Engineer’s Lead for Wales, said.
This person's tendency to watch TV at 7am every morning merely turned it into an 18-month mystery.