There’s nothing more frustrating than when the family is binge-watching House Of Cards Season 3 on Netflix and your son decides to make microwave popcorn. All of a sudden, the video gets choppy and Netflix starts buffering and rebuffering.
It’s not a catastrophe, as it eventually resets and comes back but it can certainly kill the moment. It makes you wonder what the microwave has to do with your TV.
The problem, in this case, is not your TV, but the Wi-Fi connection that sends the Netflix signal to it. More specifically, the Wi-Fi is being interrupted by interference from your microwave because, if you have a standard router, chances are it runs on the 2.4GHz frequency, which also happens to be the same frequency that your microwave runs on.
Now, not all microwaves are created equal – some will cause the issue and others not, although an older microwave is more likely the culprit. Maybe the time has come for a new one.
I recently experienced that exact same problem. But then I retired our still-working 20-year old Panasonic for the new Breville Quick Touch and not only did the problem go away but this is one awesomely smart microwave.
If it’s not the microwave causing the problem, however, check your router to make sure it’s working properly. Check all your cables as well. Sometimes disconnecting all the cables and powering it off for a minute helps. Review you router’s settings. Check to see if the channel setting is set to auto. If it is, try another channel. If it’s not set it to auto or another channel, try either and see if that resolves the issue.
Of course, it might also be time for a new router. You might want to consider a dual-band router, one that runs on both 2.4GHZ and 5GHz like the Linksys WRT 1900AC. That may help solve your issue.
But it’s not only microwaves that can cause the issue. Bluetooth also runs on 2.4GHz, so an early Bluetooth device might be the culprit. Some cordless phones and baby monitors that run on that same frequency may also be the source of the interference.
It’s also possible that your network is congested. If you have too many devices sharing the same connection, then a dual-band router will come in handy to split the load. Or maybe there’s simply too much uploading and downloading going on because you’re running a home-based business, perhaps using external online media storage for your files and your teenagers are on YouTube 24/7. This can also contribute to reduced bandwidth and possible explain some of your connection woes.
Have you moved your TV or your router recently? Doing so may now give you a weaker signal that can cause the loss. Walls, especially those that have a lot of metal, can cause potential issues. Have you added a new mirror? Signals reflecting off one can also cause interference. Routers should also be placed high and not on the floor.
There are also external reasons you can lose your Netflix connection or have bad or choppy video streaming. It’s very possible you may not have a solid high speed internet connection. Streaming video from Netflix or any other online video sharing services requires good solid bandwidth. Check with your service provider to see if there are any issues with your line. You can also test your speed for free by visiting Ookla’s Speedtest.net to see if you are actually getting the upload and download speeds you are paying for.
Wi-Fi can certainly be a pain in the byte, but knowing the cause of your grief can certainly help you maintain a better on-line experience so you can enjoy all the great iTunes Movies and seemingly endless new TV series that keep showing up on Netflix.
Greg Gazin, also known as the Gadget Guy and Gadget Greg, is a syndicated veteran tech columnist, communication, leadership and technology speaker, facilitator, blogger, podcaster and author. Reach him @gadgetgreg or at GadgetGuy.ca.