This post was originally published on the Huffington Post on 24th December 2014
An astonishing eight out of ten Christmas presents are predicted to be technology-related this year. Smart kettles, the latest Xbox One bundle, the Kindle Fire HDX – we can expect a deluge of internet-reliant gadgets to land in our laps on 25th December.
This of course will have huge consequences for our broadband connections.
We at Actual Experience can predict, based on our BbFix data from last year, that there will be both good news and bad news for all proud new gadget owners this Christmas.
The good news is that Christmas day itself should be relatively stress-free online. Judging by last year, we seem to be a more sociable bunch than one might imagine and the new gadgets and gizmos are momentarily put to one side on the day itself as festive fun takes over.
Come Boxing Day however, the storm clouds will arrive by nine in the morning. Last year, the BbFix data saw quality scores (where 80 is perfect, 70 frustrating and 60 totally inadequate) fall an average of ten points on 26th December. That means if you are used to perfect, you would suddenly be faced with very frustrating browsing, while if your connection was usually inadequate, you might as well put that new tablet on the shelf until January.
So why is it that Christmas brings such terribly intemperate online conditions?
Well, not only are there suddenly significantly more devices online across the country, but they are all particularly data-hungry in their early days of life.
For instance, new gaming consoles and games often require an update before you can use them, meaning a massive 10GB or more of data has to be downloaded.
Meanwhile, a new phone or tablet will attempt to sync data and applications to replicate your old phone, using up at least 1GB of data.
So what can we do in the face of all the online problems that frustrate us the most, such as buffering videos, slow downloads, pages failing to load and online calls breaking up, just at the time of year where we most want to relax and enjoy the pleasures new technology can bring?
Immediately, for the next few days, not a huge amount. But beyond the festive period, finding out the origin of your broadband problems can empower you to bring an end to insufferable connections for good.
If the home set-up is to blame, as it is in 25 per cent of cases, you can do something about the router, replace it or get an engineer reconfigure it. If it’s the local access network at fault, as in 30 per cent of cases, then it might be worth speaking to your neighbours to see if they have the same problems and together contacting your MP to alert him or her that your local infrastructure needs attention.
The purpose of the BbFix project is to help people locate the origins of their online problems. If we as a nation knew what was going wrong with our broadband connections and where, we could make digital Britain as cloudless and balmy at Christmas as the French Riviera in June.