Second-hand television shines, suppresses the Internet throughout the village

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Sometimes we get stories on the advice line that just make us want to know more. This is especially true with tech stories covered by mass media, which typically leave out the juicy tidbits that would only clutter up the story for the majority of non-technical readers. That leaves us to dig a little deeper for the satisfying details.The last of these gems to hit the advice line is the story of a regular broadband outage in a Welsh village. As in, really regular – at 7:00 a.m. every day, Aberhosan internet customers have suffered a loss of internet service. Customers of Openreach, the connectivity arm of UK telecommunications operator BT, have complained about the outages as customers do, and technicians have responded to investigate the issue. No one was able to find the root cause, and despite replacing nearly all of the cables in the system, daily outages persisted for 18 months.

In the end, Openreach brought in a crack team from its chief engineer’s office to investigate. Working against the COVID-19 restrictions, the team set up a spectrum analyzer early in the morning, to capture any evidence of what was causing the problem. At the appointed time, they saw a radio frequency interference spot appear, a pulse of high intensity noise at just the right frequency to interfere with asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) broadband service. from the village.

A little research led to a villager’s house and a used television, which was on every day at 7:00 a.m. The TV was found to emit a strong RF pulse when turned on, strong enough to turn off ADSL service throughout the village. Openreach categorized this as SHINE or high level single impulse noise. We had never heard of it, but apparently it’s pretty common for BT to warn customers and provide helpful instructions for locating sources with an AM radio.

We will say one thing for the good people of Aberhosan: They have to be patient to the extreme to endure daily internet outages for 18 months. And it’s funny how the owner of the offending TV apparently wasn’t notified that his constant habit caused the outage. Maybe they don’t have a broadband connection, so they wouldn’t have noticed the borking.

Either way, the owner was said to have been “mortified” by the news and has not turned on the television since learning of the problem. This usually seems to be the reaction when someone is inadvertently caught spoiling the specter – remember the great mystery of the Ohio keychain?

Thanks to [Kieran Donnelly] for spotting it for us.

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