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I'm dreaming of a dark Christmas


By Dom Burch, managing director

December 1, 2015 | 4 min read

Wi-Fi has become the fourth most important utility according to Ofcom. But be wary of those fairy lights - who knew Christmas fairy lights could affect the strength of your Wi-Fi?

Fairy lights can affect Wi-Fi

A report published by Ofcom today claims halogen lamps, electrical dimmer switches, stereo or computer speakers, TVs/monitors, AC power cords, and Christmas tree lights have all been known to cause interference to broadband routers.

Ofcom says you should keep your router as far away as possible from other electrical devices as well as those which emit wireless signals such as baby monitors etc. In spite of the spurious festive PR twist (I've been guilty of many of those myself over the years), there is a serious point here.

The piece in the Guardian highlights millions of British homes still lack high-speed internet access. Although there’s been a technological revolution over recent years, with 4G mobile and superfast broadband continuing to extend across the country, for many people high speed internet access is still out of reach.

Rural areas in particular are yet to receive a reliable signal, putting services like TV on demand out of reach for many families.

Sharon White, Ofcom's chief executive believes mobile and broadband have now become the fourth essential service, alongside gas, electricity and water. A utility now in its own right, having access to the web is obviously essential in so many aspects of everyday life.

But it is very easy to take it for granted.

My wife for instance, who is a first class honours degree student and no mug, still hasn't got her head round why her mobile phone can access the web on the move, but her tablet or laptop don't automatically connect to Wi-Fi when outside of the house. The kids also expect to be connected at all times. And I guess it won't be long until we all have 100 per cent connectivity.

The Wi-Fi enabled car is just round the corner thanks to EE and its buzzard dongle. By 2017, every new car sold in Europe will be required to have an embedded SIM and built-in emergency calling features.

And according to Tech Times internet users could soon turn to Li-Fi to meet their web browsing needs. That's right, those pesky Christmas fairy lights that currently interrupt your Wi-Fi signal will soon be put back in their place in the years to come, maybe even emitting broadband themselves as they twinkle on the tree.

Li-Fi reportedly has the capability to deliver broadband speeds 100 times faster than a standard Wi-Fi connection, although Tech Times says it won't be replacing your Wi-Fi router anytime soon.

Light obviously has its limitations over established radio waves, not least its range. It ain't very good at beaming through solid walls apparently. One added bonus though is the signal is more secure, preventing your pesky neighbours from watching Only Fools and Horses Christmas reruns via your superfast broadband.

Dom Burch, senior director of marketing innovation and new revenues at Walmart (Asda), explores the ever changing world of social media marketing in his 'Thought of the Day' blog. You can follow him on Twitter at @domburch


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