Why can't our iPhones, and other devices join the Comcast network?
November 14, 2013 10:53 AM   Subscribe

Apple products not working and playing well with Comcast Wifi. Is there a trick to overcoming the dreaded "unable to join network" message?

We don't have much of a choice when it comes to Internet providers at our new home. It was basically Comcast or nothing. So we opted for Comcast.

When we were first connected, we were able to get on the wifi on our iPhones with no problem. Then we each added a PC. After that, we can't get the Macbook or either of our iPhone 5 phones to join the network.

We called Comcast, but we were told that to speak to a tech about this particular topic, we'd have to pay $5. Not that I don't have the $5 but that just galls!

We're also trying to figure out how to do our HP printer (old and have misplaced our disk).

I'm not hip, but Husbunny is, what do we need to do to have unlimited devices attached to our wifi?
posted by Ruthless Bunny to Technology (10 answers total)
Can you get cable at home? If so, you could look into getting a Comcast wired network connection ("cable Internet"), instead.

Then, if all the devices (printers, phones and computers) you want to connect are wireless devices, get a dedicated AirPort Express wireless router, plugging the Comcast-supplied network box into it. Then connect your devices to the wifi network that your new wireless router makes available.

If your HP printer is not wireless, once you have a wireless network set up, you can get a second AirPort Express to share the printer on your wireless network.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:01 AM on November 14, 2013

Does your modem/router say what kind of wireless signal it puts out? It should have the number 802.11 followed by some letter or letters.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:02 AM on November 14, 2013

Oddly enough, I arrived home last night only to get the same "Can't connect to network" message on my iPhone 4S. This phone has connected to our Comcast powered wifi network for at least two years. An android phone and an iPad would both connect, but not my iPhone.

I rebooted the router and the phone connected right away.

Not to be all "IT Crowd" on you, but rebooting the router might just solve your problem. There really is no good reason that you shouldn't be able to connect unlimited devices to your own network.
posted by BrianJ at 11:14 AM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Is this a wifi router provided by Comcast? At least in most markets I know about, Comcast doesn't provide "wifi" straight to the home; it's cable to the house and then a modem inside the house, and then either that device is a comcast-owned modem-router combo, or the customer plugs in their own wifi router into the modem. I'd question whether there's something screwy with Comcast's hardware, if that's the case; you should be able to rent from Comcast (or buy outright yourself!) a cable modem and get your own wifi router which presumably will actually work.
posted by Tomorrowful at 11:29 AM on November 14, 2013

You ought to have gotten the information to log on to your wireless router and look at the settings. That could tell you more, probably, about what's going on. Without knowing more specifics it's usually pretty impossible to troubleshoot that sort of thing. In a pinch, you can usually disable the wifi on those and attach another wireless router (they're cheap) and use that, if the wifi's too glitchy, but usually it's just something with the settings needs fixing. Like at work my boss was endlessly frustrated with ours until I realized that the kid who'd initially set it up for him had not just entered a password... but also a MAC filter to which all the devices they had at the time were added, preventing any new devices from signing in.

It's kinda the sort of thing where what you need is not so much tech support as a geeky friend or a desire to spend some time Googling all the configuration options that come up when you look at the admin control panel.
posted by Sequence at 11:41 AM on November 14, 2013

I'm an Atlanta girl as well (midtown) and Comcast has been super wonky for about 10 days. We've done all the tricks but are still having many of the same problems you are describing above. I'm hoping it is a temporary thing going on with Comcast but will be watching this thread to see if anyone has any new ideas. And congrats on the new house....
posted by pearlybob at 11:53 AM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the ideas. I know we've rebooted, the whole install is held together with spit and bailing wire. We have an octopus of a splitter that is hanging out of the wall in our "tech space/office", endlessly facinating the cats. It took Comcast three visits to get things working and it was super-frustrating.

I think we may just go ahead and do our own wifi router and hardwire it into the cable modem.

But you've all given us some excellent places to start an assault of finding out why all of this is so terrible.

Comcast has been Wonky and we have Xfinity, which is IP based, so wonk away!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:56 AM on November 14, 2013

There are some suggestions in this thread that might help. (At the very least it may be helpful to know that you're not alone in the Comcast/iPhone nexus).
posted by FreezBoy at 12:16 PM on November 14, 2013

Best answer: I would bet pretty much anything i could solve this for you in one shot.

1. go to your local comcast office, the physical storefront and return your modem router combo.. Ask for their most basic DOSCIS 3.0 modem. From what i've seen lately, it's a little tiny Arris brand one that looks like it could be from the 90s. I actually bought one of these outright from them because it's the most stable modem i've ever used.

2. buy any router i mention here

3. do the rolex sweep. But no, seriously, this shit will instantaneously solve your problem. I've had horrible dumb issues like this with two different brands of integrated cable modem+routers, and an impossible to remember >10 number of DSL modem+router combos. I actually had this exact problem with comcast and one of these combo units when i moved in to my current place a few months ago. Solved it exactly as described.

My mom can be a bit of a luddite, but one thing she often ends up being right on regardless of my suggestions is that devices which try to cram too many functions in one unit are often either flaky/unreliable or just garbage. Jack of all trades, master of none type of thing.

Also, the reason i'm suggesting returning and replacing the entire unit with a simpler one, is that with the modem+routers i had they weren't even reliable as modems with another router jacked in to them, and would also randomly re-enable their routers and cause annoying issues since comcast pushes silent firmware updates all the time(as do some DSL providers).

We called Comcast, but we were told that to speak to a tech about this particular topic, we'd have to pay $5. Not that I don't have the $5 but that just galls!

Oh, and to comment on this it's so useless and insulting. They want remote access to your computers, and then go out of their way to blame ANY problem you have on spyware/malware and bill you more. It's borderline fly by night con artist shit. I've heard appalling stories of dumb shit they've said to several people i know/have met including one of my coworkers who did it entirely just to see what they'd say.
posted by emptythought at 1:41 PM on November 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: An update, for anyone who is curious. We bought a cheap-o router on Black Friday and hooked it up to the wireless cable modem.

Problem instanataneously solved.


And thanks to everyone who helped out here.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:50 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

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