Internet engineers racked their brains for a year and a half trying to figure out why broadband connections for a rural village in Wales would go out every morning. It would happen like clockwork—the internet would be working fine late into the evening, but once 7:00 am rolled around, residents would suffer crippled speeds and even lose their connections entirely for a bit. The culprit turned out to be an old TV. Or more precisely, the electrical interference from a dated television set.
It took 18 frustrating months of troubleshooting and, finally, a hunch to discover the issue. As told by a local engineer with Openreach (via Gizmodo) named Michael, the ISP tried replacing entire sections of cables and frequently ran diagnostic tests, all to no avail—those tests indicated the network was working properly.
“Having exhausted all other avenues we wanted to do one final test to see if the fault was being caused by a phenomenon known as SHINE (Single High-level Impulse Noise) where electrical interference is emitted from an appliance that can then have an impact on broadband connectivity,” Michael said.
It was a last ditch effort employed by a “crack squad of engineers” based in other parts of the UK, who were called in to investigate the mysterious outages. Having set up camp in the area, the team used a device called a Spectrum Analyzer to hunt for interference, walking “up and down the village in the torrential rain” at 6:00 am in the morning. And then an hour later, it happened as it has always done for the past 18 months.
“Our device picked up a large burst of electrical interference in the village. The source of the ‘electrical noise’ was traced to a property in the village. It turned out that at 7:00 am every morning the occupant would switch on their old TV which would in-turn knock out broadband for the entire village,” Michael recounts.
The resident responsible was “mortified that their old second hand TV was the cause of an entire village’s broadband problems,” and naturally agreed to turn it off for good.
“Sadly this isn’t quite as a rare as people may think. Anything with electric components—from outdoor lights to microwaves to CCTV cameras can potentially have an impact on your broadband connection,” added Suzanne Rutherford, Openreach chief engineer’s lead for Wales.
The internet has been working fine for residents in the rural village ever since. And hopefully the person whose TV caused all the ruckus was able to get their hands on a newer unit.