If your broadband continues to mess up, someone nearby might be using an old TV.
News from the UK this week showed that such a problem had cut broadband connections for an entire village for more than a year.
According to Openreach, which operates the country's digital network, broadband connection for the 400 residents of Aberhosan, Wales would go down at 7 a.m. every morning. But nobody knew why.
Research by engineers revealed that the network itself appeared to be working fine, but to be sure, they decided to replace large sections of the cabling that served the village. But the problem persisted.
"As a team, we've had an ongoing problem in Aberhosan for months," said Openreach engineer Michael Jones. "Not being able to fix the bug for our customers made us feel frustrated and depressed, but we were determined to get to the bottom of it."
Jones continued, "As a last resort, we decided to bring in a group of engineers from the Chief Engineers Office who were in other parts of the UK to investigate."
After a long search, but with no solution, the team made the decision to run one final test to see if the problem was the result of a phenomenon known as SHINE (Single High-Level Impulse Noise). Such electrical interference can affect broadband connectivity if left off from a device.
The engineers used a monitoring device called a spectrum analyzer to look for electrical interference that they hoped would lead to the cause of the problem.
Sure enough, at 7 a.m., the device detected a significant burst of electrical interference in the village.
"The source of the electrical noise was traced back to a piece of land in the village," Jons said. "It found that the residents turned on their old TVs at 7 a.m. every morning, which in turn turned off broadband for the entire village."
When the owner of the television was informed of the problem, the resident was “ashamed” that his aging set was causing the village's connectivity problems and agreed not to use it again.
Since then, the village's broadband has been working properly, Jones confirmed.
Suzanne Rutherford, Openreach's chief engineer for Wales, commented on the bizarre occurrence: "Unfortunately this is not as rare as people might think. Anything with electrical components – from outdoor lights to microwaves to CCTV cameras – may affect your broadband connection. "
If you're still watching TV on an old device, it may be time to buy a new one.