Nick Baker, broadband expert at Uswitch.com, says:
“This Christmas we will be more reliant on our broadband than ever, as many families keep in touch using video-calling and stream films and television.
“If you notice that your broadband is struggling over the festive period, there’s a chance that the culprit could be your Christmas decorations.
“Any large object placed in front of your router can block your Wi-Fi signal, so be careful where you put your Christmas tree.
“Fairy lights can interfere with your Wi-Fi signal and potentially reduce your connection speeds, so keep them away from your router.”
Nick’s top tips for improving your broadband this Christmas:
- Believe it or not, other electrical devices in your home can interfere with your Wi-Fi connection — including fairy lights! Pretty as they may be, the lights could potentially slow down your connection speeds. You should keep them and other electronics such as lamps, speakers, TVs and monitors as far away from the router as possible.
- In the same vein, putting large items by your router can block your Wi-Fi signal, and reduce the speeds you enjoy, so make sure your Christmas tree isn’t plonked right in front of it.
- The average family has eight gadgets that use the internet, with five connected to their broadband at any one time. This is likely to increase at Christmas when family members are gifted new devices and start using them immediately. Disconnect or turn off any devices that aren’t in use to reduce the strain on your connection.
- If you’re not happy with your broadband, run a speed test to check how fast your connection really is. If your provider has given you a minimum speed guarantee and isn’t meeting it, they have 30 days to resolve the problem or you can switch providers without paying early termination fees. Alternatively, if you’re out of contract then you can switch to a new provider – but time is running out to ensure you can move suppliers before Christmas.
- Give yourself an early Christmas present and get a Wi-Fi extender to boost your signal. If you have a large house or have thick walls, you may find you have blackspots in your home that your Wi-Fi simply cannot reach. Simply plug in the extender and let it repeat the signal to all corners of your house.
- If you’re planning to stream films and TV shows over Christmas but find the quality is low or buffers frequently, you may be trying to watch in too high quality for your broadband to cope. Try changing the settings from ultra HD to a lower resolution to see if that improves the problem.
- Buying a new Xbox or PlayStation for a loved one this year? Check what internet connection your intended console requires for optimum gameplay. There may still be time to switch providers if you need a faster connection.
- Is your broadband password protected? If not, your neighbours could be using it without your knowledge, meaning there are far more connected devices for your broadband than you realise. It’s an easy measure to improve your security and potentially even improve your speeds.
- If you’ve had the same router for years, it might be time for an upgrade. Getting a more up-to-date router is a cheap and effective way to improve your home network and improve the Wi-Fi range, get a stronger signal, and ensure it can better handle streaming, gaming and web browsing.
Try to avoid peak times. Networks have invested heavily in their infrastructure to ensure this is less of a problem than it used to be, but there can still be rush hours when a lot of people are trying to use the network at once. If you’re planning a video call with family and friends, try to pick a time outside the busiest hours in the evening from 8pm to 10pm
For more information visit the Uswitch website