Saturday, 24 March 2007

Christmas is bad for networks

... deck the halls with boughs of holly By Will Sturgeon Published: Wednesday 06 December 2006Hanging Christmas decorations in the office has become a thorny enough issue in these PC times but now companies are being warned festive trinkets can interfere with office wi-fi coverage. Though rarely considered in past years, a well-dressed Christmas tree and some decorations hung around the office could diminish the strength of a business' wi-fi signal by as much as 35 per cent. And that drop could be the difference between a usable signal and a connection that is faltering or intermittent. It's not just the physical interference of added 'clutter' in the office but also an increase in reflective surfaces that can make the signal even less effective, according to wi-fi optimisation and troubleshooting experts AirMagnet.Some enterprises are already aware of the threat. Paul Broome, IT director at 192.com, whose offices use wi-fi, said Christmas decorations are just the latest in a long line of items that can affect the strength of a company's wi-fi signal.Broome told silicon.com: "Christmas lights can play havoc if you have a very cheap and nasty power transformer. It will radiate lots of RF gleefully over the twisted 12v DC cable powering the lights." But Broome said this is no stranger than other problems he's encountered in the past. One office he worked in had a number of women who wore large amounts of jewellery and who would cause a dip in signal strength as they passed access points, he said.AirMagnet's top tip for preventing problems this year is to ensure whoever is responsible for positioning the Christmas tree and any large decorations is also aware of the whereabouts of wireless access points. Problems are certainly far less severe if trees aren't placed directly in front of, or below, access points.This news follows findings last month, published on silicon.com, which showed the effect even normal decoration and fixtures, such as plants and lighting, can have on the strength of wi-fi signals.

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