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Old 10-31-2007, 07:00 PM
Jason Dunn
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Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 29,160
Default Why Is WiFi Less Stable Year by Year?

I swear that WiFi overall as a technology is less and less stable every year. Back when it was only 802.11b, I don't remember having nearly as many problems as I have lately. I've owned D-Link, Belkin, Netgear and Linksys routers - all have been replaced in my hunt for a fast, stable router that works with all of my equipment. The past month or so has been particularly hair-pulling; I've been in wireless router hell.<br /><br />A couple of weeks ago my still-quite-new D-Link 802.11n router (a DIR-655) flaked out on me. I spent an hour thinking it was my cable modem, eventually narrowed it down to the router, then wasted an hour on the phone jumping through D-Link tech support hoops just so I could get an RMA and get the router exchanged. It took talking to three techs before they'd admit there was a hardware problem with the router. From the beginning the router had compatibility problems with my wife's iPAQ 1950, even with the latest firmware on both devices. It's embarrassing in a geeky way when my wife has to Exchange sync over WiFi at work because the home network is never functioning. I bought the iPAQ 1950 to replace the previous iPAQ that had trouble connecting over WiFi, hoping that the newer model would be more compatible with modern WiFi. It's not. I don't believe the compatibility problems are due to a hardware failure - I think the DIR-655 just has poor compatibility with WiFi devices, which is a common issue I've seen with routers over the past two years.<br /><!><br />I then switched to my backup router, also a D-Link (DI-624). It kept dropping my connections, both wired and wireless, so I swore I'd never buy another D-Link router. I went out and bought a Belkin 802.11n router, another brand I've had trouble with in the past and never wanted to buy again - but there are only so many choices on the market. The Belkin router worked perfectly when I swapped it into place, but now my Fujitsu P7020 laptop running Windows XP refuses to connect to it regardless of which mode I put it in (WPA, WEP, no security, 802.11n/g, or 802.11g). The HTC Touch won't connect to it either - it can't even see the network. The AT&amp;T Tilt locked up the Wireless Manager trying to connect to it, so I reset it. Trying to even remove the wireless network setting locks up the wireless manager on the Tilt. When I did manage to get it to connect to the Belkin router and prompt me for the WPA password, it would try to connect for a few seconds, then come back and show me a list of networks again. My Dell XPS M1330 can connect to the Belkin router if it's in 802.11g/n mode, but not if it's in 802.11g only mode. I'm in wireless hell.<br /><br />The ultimate frustration here is that whenever I can't get wireless working properly and I'm in desperate need of a connection, I always connect to a neighbour's unsecured network called "default" - and almost every device can connect to it (the Tilt can't however). I'm tempted to go knocking on some local doors to see who's router it is, and ask if I can buy it - because clearly whatever old, unsecured hardware they're using is superior to all the modern, expensive routers that I keep buying.<br /><br /><i>Jason Dunn owns and operates <a href="">Thoughts Media Inc.</a>, a company dedicated to creating the best in online communities. He enjoys mobile devices, digital media content creation/editing, and pretty much all technology. He lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada with his lovely wife, and his sometimes obedient dog. Why can't WiFi work better?</i>
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Old 10-31-2007, 07:28 PM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 1
Default DD-WRT anybody?

May I suggest DD-WRT? It's an open source firmware for many popular brands of home wireless. I use DD-WRT at work on old Linksys Wireless router's. It makes for an extremely stable and feature rich router. As long as your hardware is physically ok, it should work like a charm. Enjoy...

Thomas T.
gotee12 at gmail dot com[/url]
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Old 10-31-2007, 07:30 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 109

I think part of the problem is interference. There are only so many 'channels' for WiFi and it seems that everyone has a router now and I'd estimate for every router that's broadcasting it's SSID there are at least twice as many that are hidden (though detectable). Add to that the amount of noise in the 2.4 Ghz band from WiFi, Bluetooth, microwave ovens (especially older ones that might not be functioning well), and cordless phones and it's a wonder anything can get connected, much less stay connected.

On the other end of things I think the rush to integrate multiple wireless technologies on one chip is affecting their performance, especially when it comes to power saving. HTC in particular seem to be taking a lot ofshortcuts. My 2003 HTC-built HP iPAQ 4150 can pick up my access point over half a km away -- my 2007 HTC TyTn on the other hand has trouble connecting through one wall. If I hold the Tytn a certain way my WiFi performance improves. It is scary to think that the E-M field around my body is stronger than the 'mighty' Tytn. ops:

As for stable, flexible routers, the Linksys WRT-54G (espeically in it's 54GL version) is topps in my book. The ability to load custom firmwares is invaluable when the current manufactuers firmware is inadequite or buggy.
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Old 10-31-2007, 07:34 PM
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The problem is that while there are wireless standards group, there is no standard interoperability testing consortium. Nothing that says - this device has been certified by (fill in the blank).

In addition, there are regular technical advances that add speed, range, or some other so-called benefit to the consumer. These advanced come in three primary forms. Pre-final standards such as what had happened with the 802.11n standard (pre-N), official standards as they are finalized, and then proprietary enhancements (anyone remember the 108 wireless-G claims?).

All of these frequent updates makes interoperability testing very difficult and the frustrations that you and many others face is the result. I am sure if you speak to a manufacturer, they will tell you that they have tested the most popular hardware... but my experience is that often their own hardware is suspect to work reliably with each other.

I see no let up as we get additional wireless capabilities with greater range, better power management and better speed. After all, isn't faster and further better? The manufacturers would tell you yes, but our experience often says 'no'.
Jonathan (JonnoB)
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." -Edmund Burke
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Old 10-31-2007, 07:35 PM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 11

Yeah, I experienced similar issues.

I put a wireless router (D-Link) in my mothers house for easy acccess for my Pocket PC (then an Ipaq 5555) and Xbox live play.

All was fine.

Then my Ipaq died (I still miss it :cry: ) and I picked up an Axim x51v.

Then the troubles began.

No wifi connection with the PDA would last without a steady data stream. I tried to monkey around with the settings but finally got so fed up I went and got a Linksys WRT54g router. All is well again.

I'm sure I persevered longer I could have made it work, but I just gave in. It was just easier to scrap the old router. Sigh. I just want things to work as they are supposed to. Is that too much to ask? :roll:
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Old 10-31-2007, 08:03 PM
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 607

i thouht it was just me. i bought the new linkys N...the 150 wrtn. This thing disconnects everything as it pleases with out warning. before that i had a dlink that did the same. and before that was a belkin...its really frustrating. But whats funny is neither of these routers had issues with hard wired was only wireless. and no matter how long you sit on the phone with support...they swear up and down the hardware is fine. it really erks me!!
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Old 10-31-2007, 08:19 PM
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 110

there are lot of 'worms' in the net which occasionally cause problems for routers. Notice WAN light on your router. I remember some 2 years ago that light was steady when I did not use my PC or PDA. Nowdays it constantly blinks and every router eventually slows or fails on some bad packet.
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Old 10-31-2007, 08:29 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 429

I have a Belkin Wireless G Plus MIMO that I bought last year. It works solidly for me. Of all the devices in my house, the only one that has a problem is my wife's Averatec laptop, which works fine when I tell her to "let me take a look at it".

Occasionally when we take a power hit, I have to unplug both the router and the cable modem to get back online, but for the most part my setup works very reliably.
Current devices: iPhone 3G. Previous devices: Samsung Epix and 1st gen 32GB iPod Touch BlackJack II, iPaq 6945, iPaq hx4705, Dell Axim x30 high, iPaq 3765.
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Old 10-31-2007, 08:46 PM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 20

I second the DD-WRT router firmware. You can flash it on several different routers - I flashed the WRT54G, which I picked up for less than $40. I get significantly better speeds than with the default firmware, much better coverage, greater stability (router has NEVER crashed), and more functionality.

Another trick, which someone else mentioned, was interference. For most routers, the default channel is 6, so you'll get better connectivity by switching channels.

Also, too, remember that a lot of the routers are fairly significant pieces of hardware (the wrt54g runs something like 300Mhz). Covering your router with dirty socks will not prolong its life span.

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Old 10-31-2007, 08:52 PM
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 9

Was the d-Link Revision A or C?
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