Broadband slow? Blame Christmas Lights, then the kids

Thursday, 21 December, 2017

If you’ve got slow broadband this Christmas the reason could be something you don’t expect.

Kids are making your broadband slow

More people are at home with their families at Christmas and once the kids break up from school, usually between Tuesday 19 and Friday 21 December, they’re sat around at home cluttering up the place.

Of course each child has their own device, and so do their friends.

So aside from raiding your fridge, that’s multiple WiFi enabled phones, tablets and more all vying for a slice of your wireless broadband bandwidth.

If they’ve got an Xbox or a PS4, these gaming consoles often auto-download regular game and system updates, rinsing your data. The only way to control this is to go into the Settings of your son or daughter’s console and change the data settings.

Your neighbours are making your broadband slow

More people on your connection = less bandwidth.

Pesky neighbours leeching off your unsecured WiFi can slow everything down and make Christmas far more stressful than it needs to be.

We’ve got a useful guide here on how to secure your router which gives you everything you need to be able to snap the lid shut on outside WiFi invaders.

The network is down

It could be that your broadband provider’s own system is down or failing, and that’s why broadband is so slow.

Check for the latest service updates on the crowdsourced site It pulls in tens of thousands of reports from Facebook and Twitter to give a wide picture of which services, banking websites, game servers or mobile networks are having difficulties, grouping them into internet issues, mobile issues and email issues.

Quite apart from anything else, Downdetector don’t try to obscure the network status while repairs are ongoing, so later it looks like the network wasn’t really down for that long.

Christmas lights are making your broadband slow

This might sound like an urban myth, but it’s actually true.

Electrical interference can seriously hamper your broadband. It comes in loads of forms so it can be tricky to work out what is really affecting your broadband speed. But it could be the boiler switching on and off, interference from your TV, or anything else electrical in the home.

If you have a fibre-to-the-cabinet broadband connection that’s slow or dropping out entirely then Christmas lights could be the culprit.

This will affect anyone on a 38Mbps or 76Mbps fibre broadband service with BT, DirectSave, EE, First Utility, John Lewis, NowTV, POP Telecom, Plusnet, Post Office, Sky, TalkTalk and Vodafone.

Only Virgin Media isn’t affected in this way, because it uses its own cable broadband network rather than running a fibre connection between your nearest green street cabinet and your home.

How to get round it without cancelling Christmas

Thankfully, there is a decent solution that doesn’t mean kicking everyone out of your house or flat.

If your router or telephone line runs close to the Christmas tree, it’s as easy as shifting your tree and presents – if you have them – away from these devices.

MAIN IMAGE: Stuart Pilbrow/CC BY-SA 2.0

Tom Rodgers author picture


Tom is a tech journalist and former Editor at