Can climate conditions affect your Internet Connection?
When your Netflix stream drops out in the middle of a rainstorm, can you blame the wild weather?
Quite possibly. The weather can affect the performance of your internet connection in a variety of ways.
This can include issues such as physical damage to the network, water getting into electrical connections, and wireless signal interference. Some types of connection are more vulnerable to weather than others.
The behaviour of other humans in response to the weather can also have an effect on your connection.
How rain can affect your internet connection
Internet connections are much more complicated than the router and cables in our homes. There are many networking devices and cables and connections (of a variety of types and ages) between our homes and the websites we are browsing.
An internet connection may involve different kinds of physical link, including the copper wiring used in the old phone network and more modern fibre optic connections. There may also be wireless connections involved, such as WiFi, microwave and satellite radio.
ADSL-style connections, which use the old phone network, are particularly vulnerable to this type of interference. Although many Australians may be connected to the National Broadband Network (NBN), this can still run (in part) through pre-existing copper wires (in the case of “fibre to the node” or “fibre to the cabinet” connections) rather than modern optical fibres (“fibre to the home”).
When the weather gets wild, your internet connection can suffer. But other users are as much to blame as the wind and rain.
Copper cables and changed behaviour
If you are using ADSL or NBN for your internet connection, it is likely copper phone cables are used for at least some of the journey. These cables were designed to carry voice signals rather than data, and on average they are now more than 35 years old.
There is also a behaviour factor. When it rains, more people might decide to stay indoors or work from home. This inevitably leads to an increase in the network usage. When a large number of people increase their internet usage, the limited bandwidth available is rapidly consumed, resulting in apparent slowdowns.
In Australia, extreme cold is not usually a great concern. Heat is perhaps a more common problem. Our networking devices are likely to perform more slowly when exposed to extreme heat. Even cables can suffer physical damage that may affect the connection.
Imagine your computer fan is not running and the device overheats — it will eventually fail. While the device itself may be fine, it is likely the power supply will struggle in extremes. This same issue can affect the networking equipment that controls our internet connection.