MacBook wireless connectivity issues
July 11, 2007 7:56 AM   Subscribe

Why does my wireless connection on my Macbook spontaneously die and prevent me from reconnecting for a minute or so?

I have a MacBook Core 2 Duo with OS X 10.4.9. Frequently, the wireless connection will die (connectivity stops at first and then I am disconnected from the wireless access point). The odd thing is that, after I am disconnected, I frequently cannot see any wireless networks for anywhere from 5-120 seconds.

For example, I am currently in a building with 12 access points. After being disconnected, I will be able to see anywhere from 0-4 access points for a minute or so, then they will all reappear. During this time when only a few are visible, I get an error message when I try to connect to any of them.

This has happened here in this building as well as at home. There does not seem to be a specific time period that must elapse for this to happen and I have also reinstalled OS X (not because of this problem, but coincidentally). I am hesitant to take it to the Apple Store just to replace a wireless card if there is another fix.
posted by proj to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I have the exact same problem. It seems to be more frequent when there are multiple people logged on to my home wireless network, and more frequent when my computer gets hot. I'm curious to see what other people say. I had presumed it was a software bug in the Airport software.
posted by modernnomad at 8:16 AM on July 11, 2007

Update to 10.4.10. The driver for the wireless hardware changed in that version. It's still buggy, but buggy in a different way.
posted by majick at 8:27 AM on July 11, 2007

I'm curious, too. I have the exact same problem with my Core 2 Duo. And majick, I'm running 10.4.10.
posted by unclejeffy at 8:30 AM on July 11, 2007

The exact same problem? Including the bit about "[f]requently"? Since the 10.4.10 update, I only see this happen every few days instead of one or two times a day. The bug where it stops connecting and won't reconnect until reboot still crops up with the same frequency, but that's a different bug.
posted by majick at 8:41 AM on July 11, 2007

I have it too, on my iBook. I didn't connect it to the computer being hot, but now that it's mentioned, I could have some correlation there. I am only on 10.4.8 though.
posted by astruc at 9:07 AM on July 11, 2007

Response by poster: I don't have to reboot to get reconnected -- I just have to wait a bit.
posted by proj at 9:28 AM on July 11, 2007

Have you guys tried altering the channel on which your wifi base station broadcasts?

I have this problem on both my Macs. I get miniature timeouts of around 10 seconds. But I don't seem to disconnect from the wifi base station. This could be an ISP thing, I just don't know. It's annoying but not worth my while fussing over.

In the past my iMac Core 2 Duo was completely unable to connect for more than around 60 seconds at a time, but one of the many updates appeared to have fixed that.
posted by deeper red at 9:30 AM on July 11, 2007

MBP 2.33 here, and I've experienced what seems like the same thing - with 10.4.9 and 10.4.10.

Once the error occurs, it will sometimes (rarely) correct itself in time, or else a restart is needed. From what I've read and understand, Intel Macbooks and Macbook Pros are experiencing issues with Airport Express cards connecting to certain brands (types?) of routers.

(I'm no expert, and I intend to just wait and see what fixes come about from the complaining going around the interwebs. The problem is not bad enough that it makes me want to go to an Apple store or even call customer service.)
posted by gaiamark at 9:31 AM on July 11, 2007

does it coincide with phone usage?

I don't have any Apple products, but the wireless network in my old apartment used to go bonkers whenever I used certain cordless phones - it appears that they use the same frequency range to transfer data. I fixed it by getting a new phone.

Another deal that used to happen frequently is that my laptop (again, not apple, but similar symptoms) would shut off the wireless card for "power saving" reasons. Once I told it to never, ever shut off my network, that problem went away.

Could also be that the network "Channel" you're using is saturated with too many wireless network. Could try changing that.
posted by jaded at 9:33 AM on July 11, 2007

I was having this problem with the Airport card, so I swapped out my old Linksys router for an Airport base station. I have Comcast for internet access (they suck, I'm going back to DSL when I move). I have an iMac connected to the base station via ethernet. The iMac connection never goes down, just the wireless iBook.

I don't usually have to restart. I sometimes turn off the Airport card in an effort to get the card to recognize the network. This doesn't seem to work. The weird thing is that my neighbors' networks always pop back up in my menu before my own.
posted by astruc at 9:36 AM on July 11, 2007

If you're using WPA / WPA2, I've found that there's a bug with the way the keys are regenerated, which causes key desynch after a while. It's very annoying.
posted by aberrant at 9:43 AM on July 11, 2007

Response by poster: astruc: That's identical to mine.

I have tried changing the channel. It's worth noting that this is happening in multiple locations on multiple brands of routers.
posted by proj at 8:25 PM on July 11, 2007

I have an EarthLink DSL account, and my connection drop at random intervals for several seconds. I have Butler set up to show a notification every time my external IP address changes, and every time my DSL connection drops my IP changes. I have tried several times to deal with this issue through EarthLink tech support, but to no avail.

This bugs the heck out of me, as it often happens when I'm in the middle of updating a website or some such. I do, however, sleep soundly knowing that there's basically nothing I can do about it, and that it's a glitch on the ISP's end.
posted by al_fresco at 11:21 PM on July 11, 2007

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