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Avoid using microwave to get faster internet – Ofcom

By Martyn Landi, PA Technology Correspondent

People should avoid using their microwave at the same time as their wifi in order to get better internet speeds, media regulator Ofcom has said.

New guidance on wifi has been published as millions live and work in lockdown at home because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Internet service providers have reported a surge in network traffic following school closures and workers being told to stay at home unless essential, but have maintained they can handle any increases.

However, some services, including video streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video as well as YouTube, have limited video bitrates in an effort to ease any strain on networks.

Ofcom’s advice includes guidance to use a landline where possible, and ensure home wifi routers are away from other electronic devices, including microwave ovens.

“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,” the advice says.

“Did you know that microwave ovens can also reduce wifi signals? So don’t use the microwave when you’re making video calls, watching HD videos or doing something important online. Also, place your router on a table or shelf rather than on the floor, and keep it switched on.”

The guidance also suggests people should use wired internet connections where possible and reduce the number of devices on their network to reduce any strain.

Ofcom chief executive Melanie Dawes said: “Families across the country are going online together this week, often juggling work and keeping children busy at the same time.

“So we’re encouraging people to read our advice on getting the most from their broadband, home phones and mobiles – and to share it with friends, families and colleagues, to help them stay connected too.”

Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “Right now we need people to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.

“Reliable internet speeds will be crucial so we can work from home where possible, stay connected with our families and keep up to date with the latest health information.

“I urge everyone to read Ofcom’s helpful tips and advice to ensure they get the most out of their broadband and mobile internet connections during these unprecedented times.”

Ofcom has issued seven tips to follow, which are:

– Use your landline or wifi calls if you can

– Move your router clear of other devices

– Lower the demands on your connection

– Try wired rather than wireless

– Plug your router directly into your main phone socket

– Test the speed on your broadband line

– Get advice from your broadband provider

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