back to article Ofcom spins out Wi-Fi checker app just in time for Christmas

The UK's communications watchdog has released a Wi-Fi checker app to help broadband customers with wireless set-up in their homes and offices. According to Ofcom, there are plenty of chumps out there who plonk their kit way too close to electronic devices, such as lamps and baby monitors. The regulator was keen to keep its …

  1. Indolent Wretch

    Virgin media says "Through a combination of satellite and mobile, there is already universal availability of broadband speeds at an affordable price"

    Well that's a lie.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Meh

      Satellite and mobile are not an adequate solution to availability. Mobile is okay if you are actually mobile (assuming it works at all). Satellite is good if you're actually off the beaten track and/or need a high capacity link temporarily (eg; OB users). But for permanent residences it has to be a wired solution.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Hum

        ISP 1mb dl unlimited 27 euro's per month, 80% availability

        SAT 8mb dl 8G pm 30 euro's per month, 99% availability.

        1. AndrueC Silver badge
          Meh

          Re: Hum

          Sat: Minimum 300ms latency, at least 800ms in practice. Likely to slow quite a lot in adverse weather conditions and during peak hours.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Hum

            Well when the dish got snowed, true it didnt work too well, but latency, not observed, and no issues with voip.

            Telco took two week to fix a previously broken and noisy line, with another noisy line.

            Busy times, no worse adsl in this case.

            1. AndrueC Silver badge
              Boffin

              Re: Hum

              but latency, not observed, and no issues with voip

              That's very puzzling.

              A satellite signal has to at least go up to the satellite from your ISP's ground station then come back down (a round trip of around 70Mm). There is no way that can take less than 233ms. If you are uplinking from your premises then that doubles to become a total of 466ms. Some satellite systems rely on a ground connection for the uplink which would bring you back below 300ms but that's the absolute minimum that the laws of physics allows.

              On top of that you have processing overheads (encryption and probably compression) plus whatever the typical latency is to/from your ISP's ground station to their head office, over their network then over the wider internet to the actual target of your connection.

              There are ways to mitigate some of the latency but there is no way you can get around the fact that when the person at the other end of your VoIP connection speaks you're not going to hear it for at least a quarter of a second, probably half a second and on some systems over three quarters of a second.

    2. Infernoz Bronze badge

      Also Virgin is being cheeky says that 3Mbps (if even actually provided consistent) is adequate when multiple devices are using the same connection e.g. a better off home, a family home or any business! Multiply that by a least 10, then it's getting adequate.

      3Mbps is only about 300KBps, which is horribly slow for downloading or uploading large content, like say OS DVD ISOs, or OS, device or app updates, and multiples worse when multiple devices need to do this!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        They're not saying 3Mbps is adequate for downloading ISOs, or for "better off homes" or businesses. They're saying it's adequate for "broadband applications that are critical to ending digital exclusion and which produce material externalities" - ie a very basic service that enables everyone to participate in society. And they're right.

    3. Lamont Cranston
      WTF?

      Someone's not been producing their material externalities.

      Whatever they are.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    WTF

    Has wireless router coverage/speed got to do with ADSL/VDSL?

    1. a well wisher

      Re: WTF

      Convenient and timely smoke screen

    2. Martin-73 Silver badge

      Re: WTF

      Thank you for that, too many people think their 'wifi' is their internet connection and... this really REALLY annoys me

  3. Stuart 22

    Choices, choices

    Its Christmas Day and i must choose between fairy lights and my broadband connection. Life or death but which is which?

    1. Unep Eurobats
      Windows

      Re: Choices, choices

      You mean your fairy lights aren't wi-fi enabled?

      1. lawndart

        Re: Choices, choices

        What you need is fibre-to-the-tree

        1. Slartybardfast

          Re: Choices, choices

          My small tree has got fibre optic lights is that ok :-)

  4. djstardust

    Offcom

    Are a bunch of idiots. A Quango that gets government funding for doing virtually nothing.

    BT have an absolute monopoly and OFFCOM can't do anything about it.

    Is this app some kind of joke? ..... blaming microwave ovens and fairy lights for the poor state of the UKs broadband infrastructure isn't even funny.

    Edit: Just downloaded and tried the app, it's pathetic!

    1. Ashley Ward

      Re: Offcom

      Interestingly, I had the BT engineer round yesterday as my broadband (FTTC) was suffering from occasional drops out. He was seeing a couple of hundred FEC errors per second on his test equipment (apparently an unusual amount) and suggested that it might be something plugged in interfering with it. Lo and behold I switched off my TP-Link HomePlug adaptor and the error rate dropped to virtually zero. He said that faulty power supplies are often the cause of weird DSL problems.

      So far so good as I haven't seen any dropouts since, and I've got another 2Mbps on my download rate :)

    2. graeme leggett

      Re: Offcom

      As a counter, I propose that if poor-bloody-consumer can check that their paltry internet performance at home is not due to badly positioned hardware, then it must be the ISP's fault and that incumbent can be rightly criticised. At the moment, they might try the "it looks alright at my end, it must be you" defence.

      Equally, should the end-user find that moving their router from underneath the TV and wiggling the aerials ups their iplayer performance then they won't be beguiled by ISP's offer of faster speed at double the price.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Offcom

      "BT have an absolute monopoly".....

      ...if you ignore Virgin reaching most UK homes, four mobile networks reaching even more, Hyperoptic and the B4 organisations.

  5. Snivelling Wretch

    "Virgin Media takes an optimistic view of the capacity of the market to deliver universal coverage."

    Oh? Then how have I managed to miss seeing all those Virgin vans installing cable up-and-down the country?

  6. Mike Shepherd

    Ofcom said its Wi-Fi checker app – developed by SamKnows...

    It seems strange that a public body should promote a specific product (free or not). I wonder if they do that for everyone (and where they publish the criteria for approval).

    1. Lamont Cranston

      Re: Ofcom said its Wi-Fi checker app – developed by SamKnows...

      Should a public body even be commissioning a specific app, when there are already many free alternatives?

    2. Tempest 3K

      Re: Ofcom said its Wi-Fi checker app – developed by SamKnows...

      I expect they got the app as part of their contract with Samknows for broadband performance monitoring/reporting - https://www.samknows.com/regulators

  7. tiggity Silver badge

    Bumpkin unimpressed by Virgin comments

    Out in the sticks I'm on dismal speeds (exchange I'm connected to is in a different village to me, I'm just about on the limit of copper)

    As for Virgins laughable comments on 4G - my mobile provider supports 4G, but signal so dismally low that download speeds are well below the target 10.

    Even if I had better mobile connection, my contract (like many mobile contracts), does not allow tethering. so could not use mobile internet on the computer which is well locked down, as are browsers used (yes I know there are tools to try & fool the tethering detection mobile networks use, but let's assume average user unable to use mobile internet apart from on phone). Given how hard it is to lock down mobile browsers (compared to desktops) & glacial speed of security fixes, I would not fancy doing anything "important" (e.g. involving financial transaction, credentials for *non* disposable email accounts) via mobile browser (or mobile in general) as mobile browsers far harder to lock down, & unless you are on iPhone or vanilla Android (or well maintained custom ROM), bug fixes are not exactly frequent, so your average mobile device is open to a variety of exploits.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bumpkin unimpressed by Virgin comments

      As for Virgins laughable comments on 4G - my mobile provider supports 4G, but signal so dismally low that download speeds are well below the target 10.

      So you won't enjoy my obligatory tauntage concerning the smooth, reliable, deep 150 Mb/s Virgin deliver to my home, with virtually no contention issues because all the neighbours are on Openreach?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bumpkin unimpressed by Virgin comments

        On the other hand...

        So you won't enjoy my obligatory tauntage concerning the smooth, reliable, deep 76 Mb/s BT deliver to my home, with virtually no contention issues because all the neighbours are on Virgin?

        Around where I live that is the usual situation.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Bumpkin unimpressed by Virgin comments

          Then we can join together in waving to our bumpkin friend and his wet string connection - no point sending an email.

          At least he's got a promise from David Cameron of a universal high speed service by 2020. Oh. Yes, I'd forgotten those promises about a referendum on the Lisbon treaty under the last shower. And his promise that Heathrow expansion wasn't going ahead, "no ifs and buts". And the one about not raising VAT. And the promise about not reorganising the health service. Or the one about not means testing child benefit (although I suppose he's kept that for all the scroungers claiming CB but living outside the UK). Or the promise to maintain Surestart, or midwife numbers.

          I won't be holding my breath on his worthless promise on an EU referendum, and I'd suggest our AC bumpkin should consider investing in semaphore.

    2. Martin-73 Silver badge

      Re: Bumpkin unimpressed by Virgin comments

      Not allowed to use tethering? I'd consider that to be 'unfair contract terms'

  8. Alan Sharkey

    What mobile app?

    I went here https://www.samknows.com and it says "Sorry, the mobile apps are not available in your country yet. Please check back later!"

    So what are Ofcom talking about?

    1. monty75

      Re: What mobile app?

      Look in the Apple or Google appstores.

      1. Alan Sharkey

        Re: What mobile app?

        I tried that - first thing it wants me to do is log in - but I'm not registered.

        So, now what?

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: What mobile app?

        "Ofcom Wifi Checker"

        Links to Google Play Store and Apple App Store at end of article:

        http://consumers.ofcom.org.uk/news/ofcom-launches-wifi-checker/

        My only issue with the Ofcom app is that SamKnows doesn't do a techie version, that would compliment Farproc's WiFi Analyzer.

  9. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    My challenge

    I live on the wrong side of the pond for this to matter to me personally, but if they really want to impress, Ofcom can wire up Rockall for the next time someone decides to camp out there.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: My challenge

      Its a "WiFi Interference Checker", the app simply confirms that the slowness you may be experiencing isn't down to radio interference on whichever WiFi channel you are using.

      However, the problem is that the tool is very basic and so doesn't give me any real confidence that I'm actually getting the best out of my WiFi, which happens to be several orders of magnitude faster than my broadband connection. All the tool is telling me is that my WiFi isn't slowing down my broadband...

      1. Lamont Cranston

        Re: My challenge

        I doubt there's many microwave ovens or homeplug adaptors on Rockall, so the WiFi is probably excellent. OFCOM should be talking up the benefits.

  11. Lusty
    Holmes

    Bumpkins

    Hmmm, 2.4 million families have decided to live outside of the broadband infrastructure eh? And they are expecting everyone else to pay for them to get better speeds you say?

    Tell you what, when they pay for me to have a 2 acre woodland next to my city flat they've got a deal. After all, it's my basic human right to live in the countryside and have fresh air...

    I need it where I decided to live though. No asking me to move to the countryside, I need the countryside to come to me!

    1. Haku

      Re: Bumpkins

      Not sure if troll or serious.

      Smell like troll.

      Anyway you're seeing things too black'n'white, you got to pick the right balance if you want fresh air and fast internet.

      I am practically in the countryside, about a mile away from my local town, surrounded by lots of hills, fields, trees, wildlife, whilst enjoying 75Mbps down / 18Mbps up rates (speedtest.net verified to a London server, approx 100 miles away from me) :)

      1. Commswonk Silver badge

        Re: Bumpkins

        I posted a comment similar to Lusty's on a previous thread and I got a few downvotes for my pains. The point made is valid nonetheless; just because you don't agree with a sentiment it doesn't mean its originator is a troll.

        Apart from anything else a mile from a local town is not really in the depths of the countryside, at least not compared to some people. There are small villages in Northumbria* with FTTC B/B, but there will be villages elsewhere without - at the moment it's all a bit random. (Actually it isn't, but that's another story.)

        Perhaps you are simply "lucky"; there will be others only a mile from their local town who don't get anything like 75 Mbps. (And your ISP is... BT I assume)

        It's perfectly simple; if you live in a remote location then your chances of fast B/B are less then if you live in a conurbation, although like most rules there will be exceptions to this.

        *No, I don't live there.

        1. Haku

          Re: Bumpkins

          I don't "don't agree" with his point, it just comes across as playing devils advocate, posting the opposite of what people in remote areas (deep in the countryside far away from towns/cities) usually say about their broadband speeds, hence "Smells like Troll."

          I am on BT and do consider myself lucky to get such a good speed. Once, a branch damaged the line to the ugly green pavement box and the result was disruptive noise on the phoneline so incoming calls were temporarily diverted to mobile, but on the broadband side all it did was cut the maximum download rate in half which I didn't notice for days. 75Mbps is great, but so is 37Mbps when previously I was on 5Mbps.

  12. Anthony Hegedus Silver badge

    Idiotic policies

    3Mbps is NOT enough for a business to run properly, unless it's just one or two people. We support businesses who just can't get higher than 3 or so Mbps. No point in going for satellite, it's shit, we've tried it. No 4G signal either. So it's either pay £600 a month for a leased line or move office. Yes, for digital "inclusion", 3 megabits is fine, as long as it just involves ordering stuff on Amazon and doing your tax return. But 10mbps would seem to me to be the minimum required to even be able to do what most people do, and actually feel "included". I mean fuck it, a 28kbps modem would be enough to get the odd email and visit government websites, if you have all morning.

    The fact is that every solution we seem to have is just a kludge. ADSL is a kludge to get fast bandwidth on a crappy copper wire. FTTC or "fibre" as the broadband providers disingenuously refer to it, is a kludge too. And virgin's "fibre" (which isn't fibre either) is just a better copper wire, only available to half the country.

    Everyone knows the best technological solution is fibre to the premises. But that costs too much. About as much as taking 12 more years to build a high speed rail link they'll shave a life-changing 45 minutes off a journey from some northern town to some southern town.

    And I know which one would bring the most benefit. Clue: it isn't a sodding train

  13. Leeroy Silver badge
    FAIL

    Wifi Anal...

    Just tried it.... it's crap.

    Told me that WiFi is not holding back my broadband speed but there are other access points using the same channel. I'm round the pub.

    WiFi Analyzer is much better and probably didn't cost £££££££££ to develop.

    1. Haku

      Re: Wifi Anal...

      Agreed, also Network Signal Info is another useful Android app I have installed, it shows in graph & speedometer dial form the signal strength of wifi and phone signal, along with a bunch of info (SSID, IP address, MAC, connection speed, encryption type etc.).

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Also

    Inssider for Windows.

    Torrent the slightly older free version. It does 5ghz and nowts changed in wifi since then...

  15. This post has been deleted by its author

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