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Poor Wi-Fi connectivity damaging to home life, say UK consumers

A study for BT has revealed a substantial proportion of UK families feel they are being let down by poor in-home Wi-Fi networks

More than 40% of British families say poor Wi-Fi restricts life at home, and over 50% would be put off living in, or buying, a home with Wi-Fi blackspots, according to a new ethnographic study released by BT.

The BT Modern families report was compiled from an online survey using a LightSpeed Research panel of 1,000 respondents from homes with three or more occupants including a child aged under 15, as well as secondary data from Kantar TNS and the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

It showed that the average home has two rooms that suffer from poor Wi-Fi connectivity, with many respondents saying they felt restricted because they would like to use such spaces for home offices, games rooms, or spaces for their children, but felt they could not do so effectively.

“These findings show us how much potential there is for families to get more out of their homes, and the central role that technology and good Wi-Fi play in our lives,” said Pete Oliver, BT Consumer managing director of marketing.

“Whether it is families streaming their favourite series together on TV in the living room, or a parent getting some work done while listening to music in the attic – good connections throughout the house are now absolutely critical to family time together, and apart, in the home.”

With one in five UK homes now containing an adult still living at home with parents – who tend to be the age group with the highest dependency on connectivity – BT said the need for homes to have strong and reliable networks was higher than ever.

To this end, it has launched a service called Complete Wi-Fi, which it says will help address the problems described in its report by guaranteeing wireless coverage in the home.

Unlike existing Wi-Fi extenders, BT’s service uses mini signal-boosting Wi-Fi discs that pair with its newly released Smart Hub 2 to create a “single, seamless, powerful” Wi-Fi network that it says will offer wall-to-wall coverage.

BT claimed a four-bedroom family home could see an increase in Wi-Fi speeds of up to 25% using just one of the discs.

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Charlie Luxton, an architectural designer and frequent contributor to the BBC’s DIY SOS strand, said: “Good Wi-Fi coverage at home is now taken for granted. We don’t even realise how much we use it until we go somewhere it isn’t as available.

“When I think about the spaces people will live in, a strong, reliable internet connection that can reach every inch of the home is now a pivotal aspect of my designs.”

Becky Spelman, a Harley Street psychologist, added: “Going online, or rather being online all the time, has become a seamless aspect of our lives. Wi-Fi has become so integrated that we often notice it above all else when it is not working. We can feel bereft if we can’t get online and find it impossible to settle.”

BT’s study also revealed some insight into the growing role of voice-assisted technology, such as Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home products.

It found that 22% of people would prefer to use their voice for “all digital activity”, the exact same proportion of those who now own a Wi-Fi-enabled, voice-assisted smart assistant.

Owners of home assistants tend to use them most to play music and listen to audio books (72%), to get news, weather and travel updates (60%) or to listen to the radio (41%), while 35% ask their devices to tell them a joke.

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