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Tinsel knocks out Brighton wireless network

Christmas killer for broadband

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Part of a wireless network in Brighton fell over this week after someone tied tinsel round an aerial. Volunteers at the community-based wifi network piertopier.net were baffled when one of their nodes located in Brighton hotel went AWOL.

When they went to investigate, they found tinsel wound round the aerial after festive hotel staff had run riot with Christmas decorations. Once the tinsel was removed, the network was back to its old self.

Earlier this week BT warned that some dodgy Christmas lights could be responsible for knocking over broadband connections. Imported flashing lights that don't meet UK electrical standards are understood to be the worst offenders.

Said BT: "It has come to BT's attention that an extremely small percentage of seasonal lighting, which can be used both internally and externally may cause interference with the broadband service.

"When the lighting control unit is set to any mode other than a steady state it may generate high levels of radio frequency noise and may cause the broadband service to lose synchronisation.

"Investigations have revealed that the broadband service may be impacted where the lights do not meet the standards necessary for customer equipment marking," it said.

Since running the story, El Reg has been contacted by one reader who has confirmed that he has been hit by this snag, although his ISP was unaware of the problem. While another reader said his DSL was floored every time his flatmate's TFT screen was plugged in. So are these freak events?

Not really, says BT, which has discovered several electrical goods that make DSL throw a wobbly. These include faulty street lights, low voltage garden lights, a faulty central heating switch and...get this...a neighbour's Jacuzzi that required a filter. Could this explain why Vulture Central's own broadband connection keeps failing? ®

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