Interference to wireless apparatus at home

10 November 2017

Many wireless apparatus used in the home are ‘licence exempt’, including:

  • broadband Wi-Fi hubs
  • cordless phones
  • remote keyless entry systems (often used to lock and unlock cars)
  • remote controls
  • Bluetooth devices.

You are permitted to use them if they comply with the terms, provisions and limitations set out in our licence exemption regulations.

Interference with these devices is normally caused by:

  • someone using a transmitter illegally
  • unwanted emissions from nearby apparatus or installations
  • a fault or deficiency in the apparatus, such as a lack of immunity or an issue with receiver selectivity.

The spectrum for domestic wireless apparatus is available to anyone using compliant equipment. Problems can arise when multiple people use the same channel at the same time in close proximity, causing 'congestion’. Ofcom will not normally investigate problems caused by congestion. We may be able to help in exceptional circumstances, where a widespread problem affects a number of individual users.

Television and radio services

The BBC is responsible for providing guidance and handling complaints on interference to domestic television and radio services.

Get help with receiving TV and radio.

Inadequate mobile signal

Although no-one can guarantee an entirely fault free service, your provider should be working hard to maintain the level of service they promised. See our guide to mobile phone service faults and problems.

Some people use mobile repeaters to improve mobile network coverage. They are also known as boosters, enhancers or amplifiers. Read more about mobile repeaters from our archive.

Wi-Fi coverage

The quality and range of Wi-Fi is affected by several things, particularly congestion, where nearby devices are using the same part of the spectrum. It can sometimes be resolved by switching channels. Check your apparatus user guide for more information.

There are several free applications (apps) for mobile devices that allow you to establish available traffic-free channels. Ofcom has also developed a free app that will indicate if your home Wi-Fi is likely to be slowing down your broadband speed. The app also gives useful tips on how to improve your broadband connection.

Run a speed test using our mobile and broadband coverage checker.

There are other devices you can use to improve your internet connection. They are designed to extend the area covered by your Wi-Fi signal, or provide an alternative wired solution.

Wires, cables and wired devices

Interference to wired communications may be caused by other electrical apparatus nearby. It can result in disconnections or line errors.

Conversely, wires and cables can produce electromagnetic disturbance that interferes with nearby radio receivers.

Ofcom does not undertake investigations into these types of interference. It is not our policy and we do not have the required powers that would allow for us to do so effectively. The Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006 only gives us powers in relation to interference to wireless telegraphy caused by apparatus. This does not include interference to fixed telephone exchanges and broadband services, nor interference caused by wires and cables.

Reporting interference to Ofcom

If you are satisfied that the interference is likely to be assessed as harmful, is outside your control and the affected apparatus is functioning correctly, please tell us by completing our interference to domestic apparatus form.

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