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Ofcom launches Wi-Fi checker to improve broadband

Are you as productive as you could be when working from home or is interference from other devices affecting your wireless broadband connection?

Ofcom Wi-Fi Checker
Ofcom Wi-Fi Checker

Wireless broadband may not be working as well as it could in nearly six million UK homes and offices, according to new research from Ofcom. This could be down to interference from other electronic devices, such as a microwave oven, baby monitor, a lamp, or even Christmas fairy lights.

Now you can check whether your Wi-Fi is giving you the best service by using a simple app launched by Ofcom. The Ofcom Wi-Fi Checker, which runs on smartphones and tablets, tests your Wi-Fi set-up and, if it finds a problem, will provide some troubleshooting tips to help improve broadband.

Commenting, Professor Will Stewart from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), said: “It’s true that any form of domestic interference, including Christmas fairy lights and the growing number of other wireless devices we have in our homes, can slow down your Wi-Fi. But users should not worry unduly! For the vast majority of users the speed of their internet will be constrained by the link from their house to the exchange, rather than by their local Wi-Fi – so interference from fairy lights and other wireless devices is unlikely to be an issue. The new Ofcom app works well and will show people that their local Wi-Fi is not the issue.

“In any case, Wi-Fi systems are getting quite smart and should adapt automatically to cope with things like other Wi-Fi networks and with most other interference, including from fairy lights. Many systems also have access to the higher-frequency Wi-Fi bands, which helps.

“The problem arises for people with very old Wi-Fi base stations who might need to upgrade or extend their networks, as might people who use high speed Wi-Fi for things like streaming satellite TV.

“Some local rural broadband operators are starting to use outside Wi-Fi instead of old copper wires to distribute from village access points to local homes. This makes the issues with interference to broadband by things like Christmas lights much less of an issue.”

The Ofcom Wi-Fi Checker is free to download from Apple’s App Store and Google Play.

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