No wonder my Wi-Fi sucks; the most over-lit Christmas attraction in our city is this house down the street. And according to Fortune, Quartz, the Guardian, Gizmodo and just about every other website in North America and the U.K. is screaming, "Christmas lights could be slowing your Wi-Fi connection." They all quote a report from Ofcom, a U.K. regulator of communications industries, which has a single line in a post discussing problems in Wi-Fi setups that might be slowing broadband:
It could be down to something as simple as interference from other electronic devices, such as a microwave oven, baby monitor, a lamp -— or even Christmas fairy lights.
That’s it. Really. That's all the group wrote.
And in fact, Christmas lights might cause some interference — everything electrical in your home does because of the magnetic field that forms around wires carrying alternating current. Except most new Christmas lights are LED and run on DC power, so there's no magnetic field except from the wall-wart powering them. And the lights, if they're AC, would probably have to be between you and the router. And really, this is probably one of the smallest sources of interference in your house. As I was writing this post, the Guardian came out with its own list of what causes interference in order of importance:
Terrible: microwave ovens
Really bad: Major appliances with big motors, lots of metal and pipes full of water were really bad, as were cordless telephones and neighbors with Wi-Fi routers competing for the same frequencies as you are.
Just bad: Christmas lights and human beings.
As this electromagnetic spectrum demonstrates, Wi-Fi is clustered in the same frequency range as cellphones, smart meters, baby monitors and wireless phones. Regular electricity that runs the lights is way down at 60 Hz. Direct current is down there at zero.
In other words, the chance that Christmas lights are causing Wi-Fi interference are between zero and negligible and there's no story here. But perhaps there's a bigger story: we are bathing in electrical fields from all kinds of devices, and perhaps we might be better off to get our Internet through a wire rather than through the ether.