Wireless network/router problems
June 19, 2006 8:03 AM   Subscribe

Wireless router/network issues...

I just bought a 13" Macbook and want it to work wirelessly w/ my PC desktop. About a year ago I bought a Linksys router from BestBuy and soon after my old laptop broke, so there was never a way to test it out. However, several times recently, my Comcast internet connection has quit working and tech support feels that the router is the cause. I unhooked my router from the system and the internet connection appears to work well.

Does this even seem possible? If so, does anyone have a rec. on a wireless router to look into or ones to avoid.

As always, appreciate the help.
posted by docpops to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
Before you do anything else, try updating the firmware on the linksys.
posted by Good Brain at 8:09 AM on June 19, 2006

Anything's possible; I am willing to wager you have one of the new revision (5+ I believe) of the WRT54 router; They pulled the 8 meg models off the shelves and currently sell a 2 meg one disallowing the previous firmware upgrades. I have said router, comcast, 3 pc's (2 wireless) and 2 macs (both wireless) and I encounter strange disconnects, which are 'fixed' by power cycling the router.

I've used several different SOHO routers, the pre-downgrade linksys routers are probably the best, but I've had good success with d-link routers playing nicely with comcast. YMMV
posted by AllesKlar at 8:10 AM on June 19, 2006

I've been using 2 Airport Express units for a while quite reliably, though they do cost a wee bit more than some other wireless routers. The questionaby-names Airtunes is nice.
posted by john m at 8:10 AM on June 19, 2006

Comcast needs DHCP. I would do a hard reset on the router, update the firmware, then try it out.

If you are still having problems call Linksys' tech support. The Indian accent may be a little difficult to understand but they have help me through many problems with Comcast Cable and Verizon DSL issues.

For Linksys Tech Support: Call 800‑326‑7114, Select language; wait through message; at menu press ###.
posted by honorguy7 at 8:20 AM on June 19, 2006

Response by poster: Re: Airtunes - at the risk of appearing a total noob, is this actually a router? Can my desktop work with it? The Apple site is sort of vague. Price isn't really an issue, i.e. I'll pay an extra 50-100 bucks or whatever for something good and reliable.

And thanks for all this so far. Just incredible what AskMeFi can do.
posted by docpops at 8:22 AM on June 19, 2006

Airtunes (sold as "Airport Express with Airtunes") will act as a wireless router by sharing a wired ethernet connection (from your cable modem) with a bunch of wireless machines. It can also act as a range extender if you have other Aiport routers, which is a very nice feature (won't work with non Airport routers, at least without much hacking). Note however that Airport express won't create a wired network on its own. For that you'd want an "Airport Extreme", plus an ethernet hub if you have more than one wired computer that needs a connection. Of course, Airport Extreme doesn't do Airtunes - you need an Express to make that happen.

Concerning the original post: you might see if your router's settings have a "DHCP lease" setting, which automatically renews the router's external IP address every few days/hours. Often ISPs will require you to renew the IP address periodically, but can't force the router to accept a new address.
posted by drmarcj at 10:39 AM on June 19, 2006

So, routers generally "route" layer 3 traffic (fancy ip address mumbo jumbo), at least in the context we're discussiong here. In this situation the airport is a router.

Airtunes is an application which allows you to stream music to a remote device...it's not really anything you need to worry about at the moment.

Switches generally "switch" traffic (data, ethernet, etc) at layer 2, again in our context.

Networking is like a pizza or uh...a sandwich.

Different layers of the pizzawich accomplish different things. The lower layers provide a foundation for the layers above.

Re: tech Support/firmware upgrades.

Upgrade the firmware as suggested, as much as I love The Shiny, I would avoid purchasing anything new (no new apple hardware) until you sort out the issues with your current set up. If worse comes to worse you can solicit advise on the appropriate set up for what you want to do down the line.

Now give me my pizzawich back.
posted by iamabot at 10:44 AM on June 19, 2006

Wireless routers can be tricky to get working at first, especially if you have RF interference near your house. There's no way to tell what kinds of RFs are bouncing around, but you can atleast narrow it down using the router's built in web-admin. Common forms of RF interference come from wireless phones, speakers, and microwaves since they share the 2.4Ghz range.

First, make sure it's the wireless part of the router that's dropping out by connecting a computer directly into one of the available ports. If the connection is not available that way, then it could be the router...but you can double check by connection to the router itself via web-admin:

If you haven't configured your LinkSys yet, navigate to

I think the user/pass for new LinkSys routers is Admin/Admin. It should be in the owners manual. Be sure to change that password as soon as you can. From here you can see a Status page that will give information on your WAN (internet) connection. If the problem seems to be just wireless, on its setup tab there should be a way to change the "channel" the router is broadcasting on. Try starting at channel 1 and work your way up for each time the internet drops out.
posted by samsara at 10:47 AM on June 19, 2006

Reboot both your router and your cable modem.

1. Unplug the cable modem and the router.

2. Then make sure that there is an ethernet cable (fat phone cord) going from the back of the cable modem into the FIRST port (that will say internet) on your Linksys router.

3. Then plug your cable modem and your router in.

4. With your laptop, scan for a wireless network named linksys (if there are multiple ones, go for the one with the strongest signal (assuming that you're sitting next to the router.))

5. Connect to it.

6. Go to www.google.com -- it opens? Hoorah!


7. Type this into your web browser: - the user name is BLANK (like, don't type anything) and the password is admin (if this doesn't work, try admin for the username and password, but more likely than not there is no username).

8. You'll be in the configuration of your router. You need to do a few things:
a. rename your network -- give it something fun that isn't identifying of your name or addresses, then save settings.
b. put a password on it -- click on wireless, then wireless security, and pick WPA Pre Shared Key -- then pick a word that you can remember, then save settings.

Now, do a new scan for wireless networks and you should see your new network with the name you gave it -- connect to it. You should be prompted for a password, type in the WPA Pre Shared Key that you picked earlier.

That should be it!
posted by k8t at 11:37 AM on June 19, 2006

PS, you don't need airtunes or airport express(es).
posted by k8t at 11:38 AM on June 19, 2006

expanding on what samsara said, do you have a 2.4 ghz wireless phone? when you scan for networks on your laptop, do any other networks show up on the same channel as your router? any of these could be causing severe interference.
posted by exhilaration at 2:46 PM on June 19, 2006

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