Ofcom launches broadband campaign as COVID-19 stresses networks

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UK telecoms regulator Ofcom has launched Stay Connected, a nationwide campaign advising the public on ways reduce pressure on networks during the coronavirus lockdown.

Supported by the country biggest telcos including BT, Sky, O2, Vodafone and Virgin Media, the campaign offers seven top tips to avoid network outages and will run across digital and social media as well as through direct communications to those signed up with the aforementioned service providers.

“Families across the country are going online together this week, often juggling work and keeping children busy at the same time,” said Melanie Dawes, chief executive at Ofcom.

“So, we’re encouraging people to read our advice on getting the most from their broadband, home phones and mobiles – and to share it with friends, families and colleagues, to help them stay connected too.”

The seven tips include:

  1. Use your landline or Wifi calls where possible
    Lots of people are making calls using the mobile network during the day, therefore your are more likely to get a reliable connection using your landline. Additionally, try switching your settings to turn on Wifi calling or using apps like Facetime, Skype or WhatsApp.


  1. Clear your router of other devices
    Keep your router as far away as possible from other devices including those that operate wirelessly. Additionally, cordless phones, baby monitors, halogen lamps, dimmer switches, stereos and computer speakers, TVs and monitors can also all affect your Wifi if they’re too close. Interestingly, microwave can also reduce Wifi signals, so don’t use them when making video calls, watching HD videos etc.


  1. Reduce the demand on your connection
    The more devices connected to your Wifi, the lower the connection speeds, therefore
    try switching Wifi reception off devices like your tablets and smartphones when you aren’t using them as they often work in the backgroun Additionally, switching to audio only during virtual meetings will reduce network requirements. Manage your family’s online activity so that several members are trying to do heavy-duty tasks at the same time.


  1. Revert back to wired rather than wireless
    Using an Ethernet cable to connect your computer directly rather than using Wifi will improve broadband speeds.


  1. Plug your router directly into your main phone socket
    Try to avoid using telephone extension leads, as these can cause interference which could lower your speed. Tangled cables can also affect speeds as can interference from your phone line, so try plugging microfilters into every phone socket in your home.


  1. Test the speed on your broadband line
    Check what speed you’re actually getting by running a speed testusing Ofcom’s official mobile and broadband checker


  1. Seek advice from your broadband provider
    If all the above fails you can find advice on your broadband provider’s website and you can of course contact them – but be aware of the strain Coronavirus is placing on their services.

“Right now, we need people to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives,” said Oliver Dowden, secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport.

“Reliable internet speeds will be crucial so we can work from home where possible, stay connected with our families and keep up to date with the latest health information.”

“I urge everyone to read Ofcom’s helpful tips and advice to ensure they get the most out of their broadband and mobile internet connections during these unprecedented times."

The news comes as Netflix, YouTube, Disney+ and Amazon’s Prime Video, have agreed to downgrade their video streaming quality from HD to SD for an extended period to ease the pressures of content streaming on networks.

Earlier this month, the UK’s major mobile networks were experiencing outages as the first wave of people began working from home.