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1256 posts

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# 166119 3-Mar-2015 13:36
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For ages, I’ve been having trouble with my wi-fi connection. It seems to chug along nicely for a couple of months then suddenly it will start dropping out and devices will stop connecting. This goes on for a couple of days until I get annoyed enough to phone Spark and someone will tell me to restart the router and change the channel (which I will have already done a couple of times by then). Last time they also got me to rename the SSID and choose a new password “with no special characters”.

FYI: I have VDSL, with the Spark-issued Thomson/Technicolor TG789vn V2. In the house there is a HP Windows 7 desktop and a Canon Pixma printer which are connected pretty much all the time, plus a HP Windows 8 laptop, two iPads, one iPhone, and two android phones, two or three of which are probably connected any time somebody is home. I think it is an issue with the wireless portion of the router, as plugging the desktop or laptop into one of the Ethernet ports seems to work, even when these devices can’t connect wirelessly. And this morning I received a Huawei HG630b that Spark sent me to try for seven days, to see whether the problem is in the wi-fi section of the Technicolor.

So, I want to get this thing sorted out once and for all. Problem is, I’m no wireless technology expert so what I’d like to do is list things that I’m aware could be affecting my wi-fi signal, and invite comments about these from the professionals, and maybe get some suggestions of things I haven’t thought of. So here we go:

Router location
It’s in a hallway in the geographic centre of my house. There wouldn’t be more than two plasterboard walls or 10m between the router and any corner of the house. It has a direct line of sight to the HP desktop which is only 2.5m away and still suffers when the dropouts, etc. occur. Now, it is sitting on a wine rack. The rack is about 1m high, made of metal strips. The strips are about 2cm wide, riveted together with approx. 10cm gaps between them and the router sits alone on top of this structure – is it possible the metal could be affecting it? Also there is a light socket with a CFL (compact fluorescent) bulb about 1m above the router – it’s possible this causes some interference, but the problems occur whether the light is on or off.

Neighbour’s wi-fi
I have the Wifi Analyzer app on my phone and this shows that my next door neighbour and I usually both use channel 11, and there are a number of other signals on channel 1 which are of lower strength than the guy next door. I tried changing to channel 6 to avoid any possible interference caused by overlapping channels but then I could get no connection at all. I then tried switching to channels 1 and 9 but these were no better than 11, with slow speed and dropouts.

Other wireless devices
My daughter has some Logitech G930 wireless gaming headset and some googling revealed that these operate on 2.4GHz so are a possible candidate. I’ll be doing some testing with the Technicolor and the Huawei over the next couple of days, trying with the headset on and off, however these issues started occurring long before she got the headset.

We have some Uniden cordless phones that supposedly operate on 5.8 GHz, but I read something on GZ that these can still interfere with 2.4 GHz signals. I’d be happy to buy new phones that use a different frequency, or DECT, but the problems exist whether the phones are in use or not – in fact, about the only time the phone is in use when the wireless is playing up is when I’m on the phone to Spark.

My wife wears a FitBit One all day, and there is a bluetooth dongle permanently plugged into a USB port on the back of the desktop for synching data from this. Also, the desktop has a wireless mouse and keyboard and there’s a dongle plugged in for that too.

If another wireless device is causing the problem, I’d be happy to look at a dual band router, but I might still have to replace the cordless phones, right?

Other devices
We have nothing else that should be interfering, e.g. baby monitors, wireless audio/video senders, etc. We do have a microwave, but that’s not often used and the problems occur when nobody is reheating last night’s leftover pizza... OK, that last bit is a lie – we never have leftover pizza.

So, open to advice now...

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  # 1250458 3-Mar-2015 18:02
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what are you doing when the wifi drops?

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  # 1250469 3-Mar-2015 18:14
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Nature of wifi. Get a 5 GHz accesspoint if your devices support it.

Other wifi networks are the least of your worry with wifi, as they are made to coexist. Its things like analog video senders, microwave ovens, and 2.4Ghz cordless phones that will hammer it because they dont wait for clear channel space before transmitting. wifi analyser apps wont show the true nature of the spectrum, they just draw a stupidly misleading graph based on the presence of other networks, even ones that are basically inactive.



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Uber Geek

  # 1250818 4-Mar-2015 10:19
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richms: Nature of wifi.

Yep, some sites just never have reliable wifi. Sometimes just the way it is. I have a few customers with unreliable wifi, they had to be cabled in , instead.
The software wifi analyzers ONLY show wifi. They cannot show anything else that could be causing interference . You can get specialised hardware 2.4G
analyzers that do show all 2.4 activity, but the device causing the issues may not be on during testing

Try setting the wifi router to Wireless G (or N) only .
Try an 8db arial .
Try a good brand of wifi access point/router  instead (you can connect it to the existing VDSL router) .
Move the wifi router somewhere else, another room. Dont put it on the floor or on anything metal.
Try another channel, that sometime helps alot .
Turn any cordless phone OFF. Unplug them all from the power .

Is it actually the wifi dropping out, or the internet dropping out ?

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  # 1250838 4-Mar-2015 10:50
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Thanks for the comments/ideas so far.  To answer your questions:

Jase2985: what are you doing when the wifi drops?

It could be anything - recent examples include my daughter accessing school work in Google Docs on her laptop, my wife trying to log into her work email on her iPad, me looking for weekend football results on the desktop... I can't say I've found a pattern.

1101: Is it actually the wifi dropping out, or the internet dropping out ?

I think it's the wi-fi. Examples of things that don't work when it's dropped include apps on my phone not being able to download data (Facebook, IMDB, mobile banking) or download updated versions, not being able to download XTRA or gmail emails to my phone using the default Mail app, not being able to send a document to the printer from the laptop.

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  # 1250868 4-Mar-2015 11:11
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Install fing or a similar network scanning tool and run a scan when things are not working. If it can see the router and other PC's in the list of devices when things are not working, its not a wifi issue. If nothing shows then it is something local, possibly wifi, possibly someone else screwing with your network, possibly just an incompatibility between devices. There have been plenty of those over the years.


1256 posts

Uber Geek

  # 1251463 5-Mar-2015 07:05
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richms: Install fing or a similar network scanning tool and run a scan when things are not working.

Hi Rich. Thanks for that tip - I hadn't heard of Fing but just had a look on Google Play and it looks useful. It's available for Android and iOS, so I saaume I need my phone to be connected to wi-fi to get anything out of the app, which could be a problem as being connected to wi-fi is the problem. Or am I missing something obvious?

Edit: Typo's - brain working faster than fingers...

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  # 1251464 5-Mar-2015 07:11
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i had exactly the same problem as you. a different router fixed it. otherwise just mutter some bad words and restart the router.

Involuntary autocorrect in operation on mobile device. Apologies in advance.

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