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‘Avoid using the microwave to get faster internet’, says Ofcom

For the best internet speed while working from home during the coronavirus lockdown you should avoid using the microwave, according to Ofcom.

The regulator has published seven tips for staying connected during the lockdown on its website including doing regular speed checks on your connection.

There has been a spike in internet use as people work from home, children are home from school and others battle isolation by streaming TV shows and movies. 

Ofcom says ‘don’t use the microwave when making video calls, watching HD videos or doing something important online’ because it reduces wifi signal strength.

The advice comes as the UK enters the second day of lockdown, with shops closed, gatherings of more than two people banned and people urged to stay indoors.

Ofcom’s seven tips include only using landlines or wifi to make phone calls – rather than clog up the mobile network with voice calls and keeping broadband routers away from other wireless devices such as TVs, speakers and baby monitors.

If you want to get the most out of your home broadband connection don't turn on the microwave, says Ofcom in its seven tips for a better connection. (Stock image)

If you want to get the most out of your home broadband connection don’t turn on the microwave, says Ofcom in its seven tips for a better connection. (Stock image)

There has been a spike in demand for daytime internet as people work from home and children study at home due to the coronavirus lockdown

There has been a spike in demand for daytime internet as people work from home and children study at home due to the coronavirus lockdown

OFCOM’S SEVEN BROADBAND TIPS 

1. Use your landline or wifi calls

You can setup your phone to make calls on your wifi network rather than on the mobile network.

2. Move your router clear of devices

Putting your broadband router next to cordless phones, baby monitors, lamps, dimmer switches, TVs and others can impact on your speed.

3. Lower demands on your connection

Don’t watch HD movies or TV shows, play computer games, download videos and make video calls at the same time.

4. Try wired rather than wireless

Where possible plug directly into your router rather than use wifi.

5. Plug directly into phone socket 

Don’t use an extension lead to connect your router to your phone socket – go directly into the port.

6. Test your broadband line

Check your speed using online speed tests to see if it matches what you expect or have paid for.

7. Get advice from your ISP

If all that fails get in touch with your broadband provider – but expect a long wait due to coronavirus. 

 Ofcom says the advice it has shared is designed to help people manage their data use and ensure everyone in the home gets the bandwidth they need.

The regulator said this would help people ‘whether it’s for video streaming, virtual meetings or voice calls.’

‘Broadband and mobile networks are under increased demand because of the coronavirus (Covid-19),’ Ofcom wrote in a blog post.

‘We can all play our part in helping to manage how we use our connections.’

BT Openreach says it has seen a 20 per cent surge in internet use over the past week as more people remain home due to COVID-19.

The company says the network can cope and even though there has been a surge in use, it’s still lower than the usual evening peaks.

An Openreach spokesman said: ‘We’re not seeing any significant issues across our broadband or phone network.’ 

The spokesman told the BBC: ‘We’ve seen a circa 20% increase in daytime usage over our fibre network, but that’s in line with what we expected and not as high as the usage levels we see during evening peak times.’

Broadband and mobile companies have started to remove data caps from users accounts, or added extra data to make it easier when working from home.

BT said within a few days of the announcement to work from home wherever possible, they saw a jump of up to 60 per cent in daytime usage.

Vodafone and TalkTalk said they had also seen a similar increase in demand.

Users have started reporting that their internet connection had become sluggish and slower than normal – with broadband.co.uk reporting average speeds of 44.6Mbps.

A spokesman for the online broadband website said: ‘[The figure] confirms no negative change to the speeds people are getting despite the change in UK working arrangements.

‘So really the message is to keep calm and keep downloading, the broadband network can handle it!’

This prompted Ofcom to publish its tips for improving broadband connections as many factors in the speed of broadband connections are in the home.

Ofcom said: ‘Keep your router as far away as possible from other devices, and those which operate wirelessly. 

‘Cordless phones, baby monitors, halogen lamps, dimmer switches, stereos and computer speakers, TVs and monitors can all affect your wifi if they’re too close to your router.’

Their advice also includes reducing demand on the connection such as turning off wireless devices you’re not using – such as iPads and TVs as they still place demand on your connection – even when not being actively used.

Ofcom recommends not streaming TV, playing video games and making video calls at the same time, saying families need to work together to lighten the load

Ofcom recommends not streaming TV, playing video games and making video calls at the same time, saying families need to work together to lighten the load 

If you’re carrying out video calls or meetings, turning the video off and using audio will require much less of your internet connection, Ofcom advised.

‘You might also want to manage your family’s online activity, so that different people aren’t carrying out data-heavy tasks (like HD streaming, gaming or video calls) all at the same time.’ 

The regulator also recommends using wired rather than wireless connections for essential tasks – including plugging laptops directly into the router.

You could also try plugging the router directly into your main phone socket rather than using an extension lead – also using higher quality cables can improve speeds.

‘If possible, carry out tests over a few days and at different times of day. A number of in-home factors can affect wifi speeds, so look on your provider’s website for guidance on improving your signal around the home,’ Ofcom wrote.

If after all of that your connection is still sluggish, Ofcom says to contact your broadband provider who should be able to give specific advice. 

‘If you need to contact them for help, please be aware that, because of the coronavirus, some companies have many fewer people to help with your queries. 

‘Most are prioritising vulnerable customers and essential public services, so please take this into consideration,’ a spokesman said.

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Written by Angle News

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