Gadgets: an unwelcome gift this Christmas?

Posted by Karen on Dec 18, 2015 12:00:00 AM
A recent article by the Ombudsman Service has highlighted potential pitfalls of gifting connected devices this Christmas. The Ombudsman reports that 13 million people will be given smartphones this holiday period, with five million of them getting their very first smartphone. It predicts that 136,000GB of data will be used on Christmas Day as people get to grips with their new toys. Once you start adding extra tablets and smartphones to your home, you should set them up on your home wi-fi connection immediately to avoid costly mobile data charges (in fact, the Ombudsman predicts that 1.7 million new smartphone users will exceed their data limit over Christmas and will be left facing the New Year with a hefty bill. Not the kind of Christmas gift most people anticipate or want).

We’re not all connected

Unfortunately, many in the UK still don’t have access to super-fast broadband or stable home wi-fi connections. In July, Global Wireless Solutions conducted a survey which found that 25% of people relied on mobile broadband because their home wi-fi connection wasn’t up to scratch. The same report found that 16% of respondents chose to use their 3G or 4G connection because it was faster than wi-fi.

Slow connections can be caused by the strangest things

For those who do have wi-fi, and find that it’s often slow, it’s worth downloading the new Ofcom Wi-Fi Checker app, if not for the app then for the advice it gives. Ofcom notes that a variety of things can affect routers, and dampen the strength of wi-fi signals; from more obvious things, like interference from other wi-fi systems (such as baby monitors), to fairy lights and monitors. Yes, keeping your router next to your computer monitor may be impacting the speed of your internet connection, who knew?

Connecting the under-connected

While it’s true that wi-fi speed can be affected by many things (and mobile internet can be just as, if not more, fragile) many people have little choice. As smartphone and tablet ownership expands, it’s easy to see why those in under-serviced areas of the country would come to rely on a 4G mobile connection, while those who have a super-fast wi-fi connection will choose to connect to that while at home and save their mobile data allowance for when they’re on the move. The thing is, people shouldn’t have to depend on mobile internet to get online.

Hopefully, it won’t be a situation that will continue for years to come and you won’t need to worry if your gift will end up costing the recipient more than you spent.
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