The year is 2020. After watching parts of the planet burn and the arrival of a global pandemic, just to top it all off, your internet stops working. Will the atrocities never end? As an estimated one-third of the global population is forced to stay at home and wait out the outbreak, the comfort blankets of streaming services are placing "unprecedented" pressure on internet providers.
Online entertainment services such as Amazon Prime and Netflix have reported that they’re reducing the streaming quality of programs to try and maintain the service as demand booms. An increase in video calls is also putting pressure on the web as nights out and office meetings have been replaced with video calls with a beer either in or out of shot. But there’s another culprit goofing up your connection, according to Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator.
“Don't use the microwave when making video calls, watching HD videos or doing something important online,” Ofcom said in a roundup of their seven top tips for improving Wi-Fi signal strength.
It might sound like some tin-foil-hat talk, but microwave ovens are able to upset your Wi-Fi signal as a result of the small amounts of radiation they leak. Microwaves effectively produce a radio signal but because it broadcasts at such a high frequency, you’re not ever going to accidentally stumble across some sort of Hot Pockets Pirate Radio. The frequency they operate on, 2.4 GHz, is the same as your Wi-Fi, which is why heating up that breakfast pizza can temporarily cut off your connection on certain devices.
Ofcom’s other advice for boosting your broadband connection include:
Using your landline or making Wi-Fi only calls
Landlines might seem like a mythical creature to the smartphone generation, but those wall-tethered telephones are making a comeback under the broadband crisis, providing a reliable connection even if Love Is Blind won’t load. If you’re stuck with your mobile, it’s worth turning on “Wi-Fi calling”, which will connect your call via your broadband network, reducing demand on the mobile network.
Clear your router
You can improve your signal by keeping your router clear of other devices that operate wirelessly such as baby monitors, cordless phones, lamps, stereos, and speakers. These all negatively affect your signal in the same way your microwave can.
Lower demands on your connection
Don't opt for HD streaming every time you watch a YouTube video or a film, this will slow down the connection to everything else in your home.
Use leads where possible but avoid extension cables
If you can directly plug your device to your router with a cable, such as an ethernet cable for a laptop, you’ll improve your signal strength. Also avoid plugging your router into the wall via an extension cable as this will weaken its functionality.
Test your broadband
If your internet speed is still crawling at a snail’s pace, check your speed using an online speed test. If it doesn’t match the connectivity of the broadband agreement promised to you, it’s worth getting in touch to see what can be done. Be wary, mind. Waiting times for customer service are going to be bleak as lockdowns continue.
If your internet speeds continue to be sluggish, never fear. These ingenious social distancing moments are a great source of inspiration for some Wi-Fi-free fun (even if the Gram won't see it)