An Old TV Set Created Internet Outage In A UK Village For 18 Months


Aberhosan is a village in the Welsh principal area of Powys. It is located in the county of Montgomeryshire, between the town of Machynlleth and village of Dylife, just south of Snowdonia National Park.

Every morning around 7AM, the entire village lost its broadband internet connection. After complaints from residents and followed by investigations, nothing was found as the culprit.

That until one day, UK network provider Openreach dispatched a team of engineers to run a more thorough investigation after numerous cable replacement programs failed to fix the issue.

The team used monitoring devices called a spectrum analyzer to try to find any "electrical noise" to help pinpoint the problem.

And finally, they discovered that an old television in one household was to blame.

The reason for the outage that began every morning, every single day, was because at that time, one Aberhosan resident had a habit of switching on the old TV set at around 7AM.

The owner, who does not want to be identified, was "mortified" for unknowingly causing the trouble and immediately promised to never use the set again.

Aberhosan is a small village, located south of Snowdonia National Park
Aberhosan is a small village, located south of Snowdonia National Park. (Credit: Google Maps)

On its a web page on its website, Openreach wrote that:

'For months the inhabitants of Aberhosan – along with some neighboring communities – have endured poor broadband connectivity and slow speeds every morning at 7am despite repeated visits by engineers to fix the fault. Frequent tests proved that the network was working fine and local engineers even replaced large sections of cable that served the village, but the problems remained."

Michael Jones, one of the engineers, said that:

"At 7am, like clockwork, it happened. Our device picked up a large burst of electrical interference in the village."

"It turned 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."

"They immediately agreed to switch it off and not use it again.

The reason for the outage was because the old TV was emitting a single high-level impulse noise (SHINE), which causes electrical interference in other devices, and also apparently interfered with the entire village's internet connection.

SHINE generates interference because it works in the frequencies used by the ADSL Broadband service.

The interference can happen when SHINE generates the burst. In this case, when the TV set is powered on or off. During the burst, disconnections or line errors can happen.

Jones said that the problem has not returned since the fault was identified.

The problem was fixed after 18 months of investigating with no result.

Suzanne Rutherford, an Openreach chief engineer's lead for Wales, said that anything with electric components, including microwaves and even outdoor lights, have the potential to impact broadband connections.

"We'd just advise the public to make sure that their electric appliances are properly certified and meet current British standards," she said.

"And if you have a fault, report it to your service provider in the first instance so that we can investigate."

As for residents of Aberhosan, the provider plans to connect fiber optics in the rural village later this 2020 as part of Openreach’s work with Welsh Government to further expand the fiber broadband network in rural Wales. With fiber optics, this kind of interference won't happen again.