How to force connection to particular Wifi router / strongest signal?

laz232

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Feb 4, 2016
513
880
At a café near you
One of the offsite places I work at regularly has two open wifi routers (same name).
macOS 10.14.5 keeps selecting the weakest signal (both on 2.4GHz, one on Ch1, other on Ch8)

How do I force connection to a certain BSSID, airport prefs JoinMode=Strongest has no effect.
airport -BSSID etc has been depreciated.

Note I cannot make any changes to the wireless routers, so please no suggestions that I contact a sysadmin / IT person.

Have googled but since the airport utility has been gimped by Apple, I can no longer use most of the suggestions from StackExchange.
 

chabig

macrumors 604
Sep 6, 2002
6,770
3,980
I didn't notice that you said that. Unfortunately, I don't think there is anything you can do to force connection to one or the other. Maybe someone else can help.
 

metalsiren

macrumors 6502a
Oct 28, 2017
567
623
where do you live? for 2.4 the normal USA channels are 1,6,11... now technically 8 is a channel but its overlapping so it should not be used. wireless cards on devices such as laptops etc dont just choose the strongest signal, they take other things into account like channel load etc. I know you dont want to hear this but for the other unit they should choose 6 or 11.... if its your wireless then change the other channel (or get the owner to) . you should never use any channel but 1,6,11 any deployment thats using something like 8 is wrong.

your wireless card might be making the better choice, it might be choosing the one with the cleaner channel but worse signal.

NOTE: I do wireless for a living for a major network company.
 

laz232

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Feb 4, 2016
513
880
At a café near you
where do you live? for 2.4 the normal USA channels are 1,6,11... now technically 8 is a channel but its overlapping so it should not be used. wireless cards on devices such as laptops etc dont just choose the strongest signal, they take other things into account like channel load etc. I know you dont want to hear this but for the other unit they should choose 6 or 11.... if its your wireless then change the other channel (or get the owner to) . you should never use any channel but 1,6,11 any deployment thats using something like 8 is wrong.

your wireless card might be making the better choice, it might be choosing the one with the cleaner channel but worse signal.

NOTE: I do wireless for a living for a major network company.
Thank you for your input, am in ITU Region 1.
(channels 1-11 available)

As mentioned I have zero control over the administration of the wireless setup.

It's in a congested environment, but AFAIK due to the spectral shaping of modulated the wifi signals means that the PSD (power spectral density) at the band edges is reduced, so I'm not necessarily sure that channel 8 is a bad choice (note: again I have no control over this).

Nevertheless the original question remains: how do I tell my Macbook to log into the BSSID that I tell it to. If nothing else I would imagine it's a potential security risk that a user/admin cannot explicitly force a certain BSSID (rather than a generic SSID name).
 

Tech198

macrumors G5
Mar 21, 2011
14,946
1,934
Australia, Perth
So using the preferred network list doesn't help if the SSID is the same ? Perhaps just "-" remove one of them, or better just slighly change the SSID name "Fred(" instead of "Fred"
 

laz232

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Feb 4, 2016
513
880
At a café near you
So using the preferred network list doesn't help if the SSID is the same ? Perhaps just "-" remove one of them, or better just slighly change the SSID name "Fred(" instead of "Fred"
Please see original post:
The SSIDs are identical
I have NO control over the the routers
 

960design

macrumors 68040
Apr 17, 2012
3,012
959
Destin, FL
Please see original post:
The SSIDs are identical
I have NO control over the the routers
You are at the mercy of the router/AP owners.

Just to be clear, your Mac is selecting the weakest, slowest transmission, highest noise connection? I've attempted to duplicate your scenario in my office with my MBP15, iMac27 and MacMini running 10.14.5 and have noticed that each time it connects to the fastest TX, best RSSI and noise regardless of 2, 3, 4 or 5 bars showing. I currently do not have time to run throughput audits, but will put something together if I read that this becomes more common.
 

Howard2k

macrumors 68030
Mar 10, 2016
2,901
2,158
Seconded.

1 I know of no way to force it.
2 It’s a bit more complex than signal strength aloneness.
 

mpainesyd

macrumors 6502a
Nov 29, 2008
644
156
Sydney, Australia
I don't have a solution but if you hold down the Option key then click on the wifi fan in the menu bar it will give you more info about the wifi connection. In particular I understand that BSSID uniquely identifies the network and TX can indicate the quality of the connection. This can help speed up the process of selecting the better network if they have the same SSID.
I also use Wifi Explorer app to check network performance. It highlights the current connection and makes it easy to see if it is the best signal.
 

laz232

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Feb 4, 2016
513
880
At a café near you
I don't have a solution but if you hold down the Option key then click on the wifi fan in the menu bar it will give you more info about the wifi connection. In particular I understand that BSSID uniquely identifies the network and TX can indicate the quality of the connection. This can help speed up the process of selecting the better network if they have the same SSID.
I also use Wifi Explorer app to check network performance. It highlights the current connection and makes it easy to see if it is the best signal.
the point is that it doesn't permit picking the BSSID if there are two networks that have the same SSID.
[doublepost=1558607009][/doublepost]
Seconded.

1 I know of no way to force it.
2 It’s a bit more complex than signal strength aloneness.
1. Ok, looks like it is no longer possible with macOS from the past few years

For anyone else that reads this thread and wants some info on what still works with Mojave:

Gives details list of networks that are visible (SSID, and BSSID)
/System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/Apple80211.framework/Versions/A/Resources/airport -s


Current prefs:
/System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/Apple80211.framework/Versions/A/Resources/airport prefs

Set join mode (but does not seem to do anything):
sudo /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/Apple80211.framework/Versions/A/Resources/airport prefs JoinMode=Strongest


This selection of BSSID no longer works:
sudo /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/Apple80211.framework/Versions/A/Resources/airport -A=Dromedar -BSSID=ab:cd:8c:4d:16:66


2. I know ;)

If I ever have the time I will try to connect my Tektronix Real-Time Spectrum analyzer (RSA306B 9kHz-6.2GHz, https://www.tek.com/spectrum-analyzer/rsa306) get an the 802.11 eval license and actually measure the signal situation in situ - but alas, too much work to do.
 
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Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
19,679
6,856
OP wrote:
"As mentioned I have zero control over the administration of the wireless setup."

If you have "zero control", then... how do you expect to change anything ...?
 

laz232

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Feb 4, 2016
513
880
At a café near you
OP wrote:
"As mentioned I have zero control over the administration of the wireless setup."

If you have "zero control", then... how do you expect to change anything ...?
"zero control over the wireless setup" was in reference to the routers (I am admin on my machine). That post was in reply to the people who had not carefully read the OP and were suggesting that I change SSIDs.

I have since also provided some sudo commands of what is possible, just have not been able to select specific BSSID, which is what I wanted.

In any case I think that this topic can now be closed, unless someone can chime in with a terminal command.
 

shardey

macrumors 6502a
Jan 28, 2010
666
30
Colorado
"zero control over the wireless setup" was in reference to the routers (I am admin on my machine). That post was in reply to the people who had not carefully read the OP and were suggesting that I change SSIDs.

I have since also provided some sudo commands of what is possible, just have not been able to select specific BSSID, which is what I wanted.

In any case I think that this topic can now be closed, unless someone can chime in with a terminal command.
Any chance you found a solution to this?
 

laz232

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Feb 4, 2016
513
880
At a café near you
Unfortunately not - whatever mechanism Apple uses to determine the optimal Wi-fi basestation to connect to, it doesn't seem to be controllable by even an admin user.
 

teenflon

macrumors newbie
Dec 30, 2012
3
0
This is disappointing :( I have the exact same issue, my mac seems to be choosing absurd network to connect to.

I've been using the Nvidia Geforce Now game streaming service on my 2013 macbook air, but as my house is old and made of brick being upstairs away from the router makes the gameplay a little stuttery when being next to the router the gameplay is flawless. I decided to run a cat6 cable to a new upstairs access point less than 1m from my laptop to improve the wifi signal, but my mac defies any logic and connects to the worst possible BSSID.

I set up my network all to use the same SSID and password to make it easier to configure, my downstairs router outputs 2.4ghz and 5ghz networks, as does the new AP upstairs, so I have four 'networks' all under the same SSID. Whenever I connect to the network, my mac decides which of the four it wants to use and more often that not that's the furthest away 2.4ghz network when a fantastic 5ghz network is available. My work windows laptop had no trouble instantly selecting the closest and fastest option, but despite turning my wifi on and off about 10 times it's chosen the furthest away access point 75% of the time, and the closer 2.4ghz network the remaining 25%, it's never connected to the 5ghz network right next to me!!

I find this very frustrating. I could put a hole in the wall and run an ethernet cable through but that's not great. I could also change the SSIDs so I can select which one to connect to, but again that's not great for other people living in my house or guests who have to connect to lots of networks. I guess the only thing that will fix this is an update from apple, or maybe it's my 7 year old macbook air, but it's still going strong in every other sense!

Any ideas would be much appreciated, but I suspect there is no way to connect to a specific BSSID.
 

laz232

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Feb 4, 2016
513
880
At a café near you
This is disappointing :( I have the exact same issue, my mac seems to be choosing absurd network to connect to.

I've been using the Nvidia Geforce Now game streaming service on my 2013 macbook air, but as my house is old and made of brick being upstairs away from the router makes the gameplay a little stuttery when being next to the router the gameplay is flawless. I decided to run a cat6 cable to a new upstairs access point less than 1m from my laptop to improve the wifi signal, but my mac defies any logic and connects to the worst possible BSSID.

I set up my network all to use the same SSID and password to make it easier to configure, my downstairs router outputs 2.4ghz and 5ghz networks, as does the new AP upstairs, so I have four 'networks' all under the same SSID. Whenever I connect to the network, my mac decides which of the four it wants to use and more often that not that's the furthest away 2.4ghz network when a fantastic 5ghz network is available. My work windows laptop had no trouble instantly selecting the closest and fastest option, but despite turning my wifi on and off about 10 times it's chosen the furthest away access point 75% of the time, and the closer 2.4ghz network the remaining 25%, it's never connected to the 5ghz network right next to me!!

I find this very frustrating. I could put a hole in the wall and run an ethernet cable through but that's not great. I could also change the SSIDs so I can select which one to connect to, but again that's not great for other people living in my house or guests who have to connect to lots of networks. I guess the only thing that will fix this is an update from apple, or maybe it's my 7 year old macbook air, but it's still going strong in every other sense!

Any ideas would be much appreciated, but I suspect there is no way to connect to a specific BSSID.
In my case I have admin on the computer, but not on the Wifi network that I was trying to connect to (offsite work) - in your case I would set up 4 different SSID (potentially with the same PW) and just click on the one you want manually.

That is how I have it set up in my appt: a 2.4 and a 5GHz network with different names and just select manually when the MBP makes a dumb choice.
 

Fran Santa

macrumors newbie
Jul 27, 2020
1
0
mac os (and every OS AFAIK) automatically chooses the strongest signal and moves to that "router". You can see the BSSID changing with your iPhone for example if you download an app that lets you see the BSSID of the connected wifi router. (it's a WiFi specification, or some like that)

if it doesn't do it or do it well, check that:
1) you have the same password (obvious)
2) same security like WPA/WPA2 Personal in both networks
3) channel stuff? not sure

I had that problem, it didn't move to the new router, one had WPA2 Personal and the other had WPA/WPA2 Personal and that was the problem.

Hope it helps!
 
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