Deteriorating Airport network performance

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by Ubele, Jun 21, 2008.

  1. Ubele macrumors 6502a

    Mar 20, 2008
    I have an Airport network whose speed and connection reliability has been gradually deteriorating over the past few weeks, to the point where computers on the network can only rarely and briefly connect. Airport signal strength is full bars on all computers. When I run the connectivity diagnostics, it tells me "You appear to have an Internet connection. Please make sure you typed the web site address properly," or something to that effect.

    My setup is this: We have Verizon FiOS TV and Internet, and because the TV converter box requires use of Verizon's wireless cable modem/router (I don't know the brand), we have to to use it. I have an older 802.11b/g "flying saucer" Airport Extreme Base Station (which I'd had prior to getting Verizon FiOS) directly connected to it via an Ethernet cable and have configured it as a bridge. Because the signal strength isn't enough to cover the entire house, and so I can use Airtunes, I also have an Airport Express.

    For the first few months, this setup worked splendidly. My wife and stepson each have a Mac Mini on the network, and my wife and I have also used our work Windows laptops on the network. I have a MacBook Pro that I've used. The deterioration in speed and connectivity has affected all computers equally.

    When I connect my MBP directly to the Extreme via an Ethernet cable, it's blazingly fast. When I disconnect the cable and switch to Airport, I have the problems mentioned above. When I switch to the Verizon modem/router (which is on a different network), either with an Ethernet cable or via Airport wireless, it works fine. The other computers (except for the faraway one) can use the Verizon modem/router wireless network. So the problem is confined to the wireless portion of the Extreme/Express network.

    The only obvious thing that has changed over the past couple months is an increase in the number of wireless networks in the neighborhood that show up in Airport -- from 2 to 5. But if interference were the culprit, I'd think it would affect the Verizon modem/router, too. I tried enabling Internet Robustness, and it seemed to work for a couple of days, but it could been part of the sporadic nature of the problem.

    Does anyone have any ideas? I'm suspecting a problem with the Extreme, which is a couple years old -- but the diagnostics indicate that it's fine.
  2. hookem12387 macrumors 6502

    Sep 30, 2007
    Austin, Texas
    Have you tried changing the channel it operates on? That would be my first guess. Find out what channel the verizon one is on perhaps, as that seems to not have much interference.
  3. Ubele thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 20, 2008
    Thanks, I'll try different channels. It does seem to be interference-related, rather than a hardware malfunction. Soon after I posted, the Apple wireless came back up and was fine for most the yesterday and early this morning. Then it disconnected suddenly a little while ago. It happened on the Verizon wireless network, too. Houses are very close together where we live, so I suspect one of our neighbors is operating a device that's interfering.

    Can other wireless networks in the neighborhood interfere? I know that cordless phones can. We used to have 2.4 GHz phones, and whenever one rang, it would drop the Airport connection. It didn't slow it down, though, while it was connected. Upgrading to 5.5 GHz phones solved that problem, but our neighbors might have 2.4 GHz phones.
  4. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    Just out of curiousity does this happen just at night?

    Cause for some weird reason, I just had this same issue, except it happened at night; a visit to the Apple Store got me a replacement which solved it all.
  5. waw74 macrumors 68030

    May 27, 2008
    as far a neighbor's networks, check out iStumbler. It will show you all networks, and their channels. Won't help you see if they have cordless phones though.
    My microwave normally causes my b/g network to drop out also.

    You can try setting both the router and the airport to exactly the same SSID and security settings, but different channels. Your equipment will then automagically choose whichever base station is strongest to connect to. This shows more improvement if the 2 base stations are located apart from each other.
    You could even set up 3 bases (the router, the express, and the extreme) if you wanted, but they all have to be wired to the network.
  6. Ubele thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 20, 2008
    Thanks for the tips! I'll try them and let you know how it goes.

    To answer your question, alphaod, the timing of the dropouts is completely random. Now that I think about, what I'd been considering to be extremely slow web page loads could in fact be a dropout followed by a reconnection -- i.e., it seems like it's taking a long time to load, when in fact nothing at all is happening because of the dropout, and then the page loads normally once the connection is reestablished.

    When we had 2.4 GHz phones that caused dropouts, we had to reconnect to the network each time there was a droput, by selecting the network name from the Airport list. Now the reconnection seems to happen automatically, although I haven't yet established whether there's a pattern as to timing. Perhaps Airport is now configured to automatically reconnect after a dropout.

    If all else fails, I'll go to the trouble of running CAT5 wiring through the crawlspace, which is what I'd planned to do before the advent of wireless networking. I wouldn't have Airtunes, though. But of course Airtunes stops playing whenever there is a dropout.
  7. waw74 macrumors 68030

    May 27, 2008
    airtunes will still work over a hardwired connection. as long as the express is on the network, you can do it.
  8. Ubele thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 20, 2008
    I didn't know that -- thanks!

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