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June 15, 2021
It’s a rainy evening. You’ve had a wonderful day so far. Work is going well, dinner was delicious, the dog is settled, maybe the kids too.
Your smart home dims the lights, warms up the living room so you’re nice and cozy. Maybe a chilled glass of red blend? The only thing that could make your evening better–just unwind and watch Netflix.
Ahhh… I can feel the setting now. The only thing that could ruin your night now? BAM! CRASH! Lightning strikes. The internet’s down.
It sounds dramatic, and of course we all know that big natural disasters could ruin your internet service, but day-to-day, does cold weather affect internet speed? Poor internet connection could be a little more in the hands of mother nature than we think.
Understanding Your Internet
Most of America uses some kind of broadband Internet, typically an ADSL (Asymmetric digital subscriber line) or cable connection. ADSL works with old copper wires that are already in place and can transcribe data faster than “voiceband modems”.
Cable connections, meanwhile, are provided by cable television suppliers and use the same coaxial cable that connects to the back of your television. Both options are literal, physical cables that stretch from a hub (typically phone or cable line) to your home.
Cable offers higher speeds, but starts to lag when multiple users in the same area (who are connected to the same hub) use the internet simultaneously. ADSL is a direct wire to your home, but offers only mid-range speeds that often don’t compete with cable.
Both of these connections have something in common though. Electricity over copper wires. That’s how all information gets shared with you. And now, both are under fire.
Fiber-optic cables (the likes provided by Google Fiber and Xfinity by Comcast) use pulses of light to transmit information along wrapped lengths of refractive glass or plastic. Plastic is naturally more durable against the elements than metal (like copper), which means it’s naturally more effective in bad weather.
So before you start blaming slow speeds on your phone lines – check with your internet provider to see which kind of internet you have in the first place. If it’s fiber-optics, chances are a slow internet speed has more to do with signal strength than the physical cables.
If it’s ADSL or cable, your wireless signal might be doing its best, but not getting much in the first place.
Does Rain Affect Internet Speed?
Let’s set this straight, a small amount of rain, wind, or snow shouldn’t impact the speed of any Internet connection. Large storms, however, might be a different story. Natural disasters and strong storms have been known to knock out power lines.
Often though, it’s the cold that accompanies it can cause the ground to expand and contract. So does rain slow down your wifi? No. But it could affect the actual physical cables that are transporting your internet to you.
Cold metal is more susceptible to break and wear, and some lines could actually break or tear. Sometimes weather can shortstop a line–similar to when you use too much power in your home, an overloaded line can trip the breaker.
Now that doesn’t mean copper isn’t a good vehicle for electricity. It absolutely is. But other systems at your provider’s base, your home, or even at hubs along the way could be faulty and fail. Often though, the result is a lost connection altogether–or maybe spotty, intermittent service.
Fiber optics on the other hand, don’t have electricity to begin with, so they don’t carry as much risk. Fiber optics might be the difference between, “my wifi is slow,” and, “my wifi is out!”
Does Wind Affect Internet Connection?
Unless it’s knocked over a tower, or ripped a line (rarely)–probably not. If no one is willing to venture outside on a rainy day to check, it’s safe to assume everyone’s doing the same thing you are. Since those hardwired hubs can only handle so much electricity – the more people that use it, the slower the speeds are for everyone in the area.
You can run a speed test to determine if that’s the case. If you’re experiencing a slow internet connection, it could just be multiple users sucking the bandwidth out of your wireless network.
If you’re seeing a wifi signal, but experiencing endless lag and buffer, it could be that some hardware has been compromised. Try sending a file, or email, or video. An upload speed slow down could also indicate that a line might be faulty somewhere.
So, does rain affect wifi speed? Not really. But does weather affect your internet? It absolutely can.
Find out if it’s weather or your provider.