Why can't I connect to my neighbor's open wireless network?
July 27, 2009 11:25 AM   Subscribe

My downstairs neighbor has given me permission to connect to her open wireless network. The network looks unsecured, doesn't ask for a password, just tells me "unable to connect," except once when it seemed to connect but told me I had a weak or limited connection. The signal is strong.

My laptop connects just fine to other networks, so I'm guessing there is some setting at her end that's stopping the connection. Any idea what it might be? She has no idea, but will probably make whatever change I ask her to. FWIW, I'm using XP on an HP machine. No idea what her set up might be.
posted by Sia Stewart to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Maybe she has a white list. We do that with our network---only the MAC addresses we white list can connect. The network looks unsecured from the outside.
posted by chiefthe at 11:31 AM on July 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

oh, I never thought of that. She's not the person who set up the network, so she may not know about a white list if it was set up that way. I'll check on that -- thanks!
posted by Sia Stewart at 11:33 AM on July 27, 2009

I have a similar arrangement with a neighbor, and we had the exact same problems getting her connected. For some reason -- no idea why! -- it worked after the computer & router were physically introduced to each other. I had her bring her computer to my router, plug it in physically with an ethernet cable, and connect to the internet. It worked. Then she disconnected the cable and connected with wireless. It worked for the first time. I don't know if this will work for you, since I don't even know why it worked for me. But it may be worth a shot.
posted by ourobouros at 11:37 AM on July 27, 2009

Okay, another thing to try. Thanks!
posted by Sia Stewart at 11:52 AM on July 27, 2009

Some network setups I've tried to connect to did require either an installation disc or a physical connection to the router to work properly. Of course, if you know enough about administering home networks, there are other avenues, but ones that might be pushing the borders of legality. I'd check with whoever set up her network.

As chiefthe mentioned, the most likely culprit is a whitelist, and the best option is to attempt to have your MAC address added to the list of allowed devices. If your neighbor knows her router's password, she can set it up herself or, if she trusts you, allow you to do it. Very, very easy to do. Good luck.
posted by neewom at 12:00 PM on July 27, 2009

Have her turn the router off and then on again (that is, unplug and then plug in). Always works with our home network.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 12:44 PM on July 27, 2009

Have her turn the router off and then on again (that is, unplug and then plug in). Always works with our home network.

Linksys routers/ap's are notorious for this. At one point, we had to reboot our router several times a day to stay connected.
posted by JuiceBoxHero at 1:44 PM on July 27, 2009

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