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Entire Welsh village’s mysterious 18-month broadband outage caused by an old TV

Written by on 22nd September 2020

The mysterious cause of an entire rural Welsh village’s broadband being knocked out at 7am each morning has finally been uncovered – an old television set.

Frequent tests consistently showed that Aberhosan’s network itself was working fine but even after local engineers replaced large sections of cable, the problems continued.
After 18 months of fruitless investigation, Openreach’s Chief Engineer team – “the telecoms equivalent of the SAS” according to the company – were dispatched to the Powys village to look into the outages.
They hit their first obstacle when discovering there was no room for them to stay in Aberhosan itself.
“Accommodation was understandably hard to find due to the COVID-19 lockdown but we did eventually manage to find a guest house with a field near Llandrindod Wells,” Openreach engineer Michael Jones said.
Based there, the team made the 55-mile journey early in the morning and “walked up and down the village in the torrential rain at 6am to see if we could find an ‘electrical noise’ to support our theory,” Mr Jones explained.
The theory was that the fault was being caused by a phenomenon known as SHINE (Single High Impulse Noise Event), with electrical interference emitted by a local appliance affecting broadband connectivity.
A SHINE is a powerful radio wave emitted at the same frequency range as that of the broadband service, which effectively scrambles the signal in a similar manner to military-grade radio jammers.
“And at 7am, like clockwork, it happened!” said Mr Jones, who explained that the team’s spectrum analyser 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,” he added.
“It turns out that at 7am every morning the occupant would switch on their old tv which would in-turn knock out broadband for the entire village.”
He said the resident was mortified to discover that their old second hand television was the cause of the entire village’s broadband problems, and they agreed to switch it off and never use it again.
Openreach’s engineering chief for Wales, Suzanne Rutherford, said: “Our team were delighted to have been able to solve the broadband mystery in Aberhosan and it is a testament to their determination and commitment.
“Sadly this isn’t quite as a rare as people may think. Anything with electric components – from outdoor lights to microwaves to CTV cameras can potentially have an impact on your broadband connection.
“We’d just advise the public to make sure that their electric appliances are properly certified and meet current British Standards and if you have a fault, report it to your service provider in the first instance so that we van investigate.”