Fixing common WiFi issues


Over the past week, I consulted three clients who had problems with their wireless network connections.

In one case, my customer complained that he couldn’t obtain a strong or reliable wireless connection to his MacBook Pro when he was sitting in his living room sofa downstairs. Using my laptop, I activated the Airport Radar widget in Dashboard to show my client that his AirPort Extreme Base Station was communicating on the same transmission channel that was being used by a neighbor. I fixed his reception problem by changing the channel of his AEBS to one that wasn’t in use by a nearby resident.

In another instance, my client was on the verge of requesting a refund of her new iMac that she had bought from the Apple Store. She had just signed on to broadband service with Comcast and wanted to email and access the Internet wirelessly. She noted that when she put her iMac to sleep, she lost her wireless connection when she woke up the computer. The connection also disappeared if she shut down her iMac and started it up again. She expressed dismay that she had to reenter her logon credentials after she woke up her computer. Moreover, she couldn’t understand why her two-year-old laptop kept its wireless connection, even after it was put to sleep.

Researching the problem, I noted two things: One, that her laptop was running Tiger (OS X 10.4) while her iMac was configured with Leopard; two, that my Leopard-powered laptop couldn’t reliably attach itself to her wireless network using her SSID and password. Using my web browser to view the router’s configuration, I stumbled on the source of the problem: The Comcast technician who came to her house had set up her Netgear WGR614 router with WEP encryption. I changed it to WPA, and her problem was resolved.

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Filed under Third Party Hardware, Troubleshooting

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