August 01, 2007

A digression: wireless networking

I wasn’t expecting to write anything about this, because I had assumed that it would Just Work, but I have been dismayed to find that the MacBook Pro I’m testing has noticeable problems with its wireless networking. At least in part, this is just an unlucky fluke of timing; there is, it seems, a known issue with the latest software update to OS X (10.4.10) introducing problems with wireless networking, especially when running on battery.

But even discounting that bug (which is a particularly nasty one, causing kernel panics and requiring a restart), the MBP seems to struggle to work with a wireless basestation in my home, seeing it but being unable to connect to it. Part of the problem, I suspect, is that I live in a street with lots of wireless basestations nearby, and there is some overlap and some interference, especially given that at least one of the other basestations is on the same channel as mine. But what makes it slightly irksome and puzzling is that my Windows laptop which is sitting on the sofa right next to the MBP doesn’t display even a hint of the same problem.

I fixed it by downloading a utility which shows all the basestations in range together with their SSID and channel, finding an unused channel and switching my basestation to that. This was probably a smart thing to do anyway, improving the quality of the connection for any and all connected devices. But it’s disappointing that the Mac is the only hardware which just couldn’t cope until the change was made.

- One comment Not publicly viewable

  1. John Rawnsley

    Our experience in the Maths dept is that aluminium cased powerbooks and MacBook Pros have poorer wireless reception than plastic cased iBooks and MacBooks. A triumph of style over functionality, perhaps.

    On the other hand at home I had a harder time getting my wife’s portege onto our netgear based network at home. My PBG4 ‘just worked’. There’s nothing odd about the netgear settings, all I did was turn on MAC address filtering. My wife travels on business a lot and when she gets back the portege’s settings have invariably been messed up Windows tech support people.

    My best Mac laptop for wireless reception was my black plastic PB G3 (a.k.a. pismo).

    02 Aug 2007, 10:16

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