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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Christmas Lights May Keep Your Wi-Fi From Shining Bright

A new study shows that Christmas lights can interfere with your Internet connection, but probably not as much as you think.

Your Christmas lights may be affecting your Wi-Fi connection, but before you take down your decor and blame it on the Grinch, a new study by UK telephone regulator agency Ofcom reports it’s probably not as inhibited as you think.

Most Christmas lights have unshielded wires, meaning they transmit electromagnetic waves that other devices can pick up. But since the signals are so minute, your Wi-Fi won’t be significantly affected.

The study claims customer complaints about Internet connections increase during the holiday season, which the company attributes to electromagnetic inference: small electric particles emitted by electronic machines.

Appliances including baby monitors, microwaves, cordless phones and Christmas lights can weaken Wi-Fi connection and regularly compete with your network. 

A signal is measured in Hertz and is one wavelength per second. The average FM radio station measures about 100,000,000 waves per second in comparison with a wireless connection recording about 2,400,000,000 waves per second. Since a higher frequency means a shorter wavelength, a wireless connection requires more power to transmit the signal making it weaker than radio waves.

Because wireless waves are weak, any household interference will have an impact on Wi-Fi signals meaning the boost in holiday electricity usage will hinder connection strength further.

To speed up your network this holiday season, password protect your Wi-Fi so your neighbors and pesky relatives stay off it at Christmas dinner. Also move any unnecessary electronic devices away from your router to avoid unwanted interference. 

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