Static in the airwaves

As the first of the autumn storms rolls in and the nights draw in, it is good to have a story to lift the spirits; something a little out of the ordinary to relieve the gloom. Such a story came to the airwaves recently thanks to the residents of a small Welsh village. Baffled by the fact that broadband in the village fell over at 7am each day, experts from Openreach eventually traced the fault to an old TV set which gave out a burst of static when it was switched on. With the TV having been replaced, residents were able to enjoy an uninterrupted broadband signal.

The challenge of tracing mysterious glitches and slowdowns caused by unconnected appliances isn’t a new one. When this writer was working for another organisation back in the 1990s a faulty microwave oven was found to be the cause of a slowdown which affected just two computers across an entire office building. And then there was the case highlighted by Ofcom in March 2020 of four vintage light-bulbs which caused interference to planes flying in and out of Glasgow airport.

Such instances are rare but they are a good reminder of the importance of maintaining and reviewing equipment on a regular basis. It’s one reason why PAT testing guidelines recommend that electrical equipment is tested on a regular basis, varying from one to four years depending on the equipment. But there is also another reason why regular reviews of electronic equipment may be required. That is to ensure that they still meet the needs of the business.

Now we’re not suggesting that businesses rush out and buy the latest technology at times. But businesses change and business needs change as companies grow or move into new market places. So, for example, whilst a simple mobile phone may have been sufficient for a one person start-up, it may not be the right solution once the business takes on more people and expands its customer base. Similarly, businesses moving from a single office to multiple bases may find that they need to upgrade from a static phone system to a virtual switchboard model in order to optimise their communication pathways.

Undertaking regular reviews of the way in which technology is currently serving the business could enable firms to make the most of the options available, thereby avoiding costly or time-poor workarounds. Similarly, choosing a flexible telephony option which is capable of growing alongside the business enables organisations to only use and pay for those options which they currently require. This in turn saves businesses from having to pay now for modules which they may require in future.

For example whilst a simple telephone transfer system may suit a small office, as the business grows programmable hunt groups which automatically switch calls between team members may prove to be more effective. In the same way, businesses may find that features such as call conferencing or business information lines come into play as the business grows.

Bursts of static from old devices may be rare. But by clinging on to old systems and practices, businesses may find that they have created their own internal static, hampering their ability to move forward.

Written by Alison