Tagged wi-fi

Fixing Wi-Fi upload issues with a Sonic.net ZXV10 W300 modem/router

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I have Sonic.net for my ISP here in Oakland, and I’ve been pretty happy with the speed and consistency of the DSL service they provide. After returning from my latest visit to the East Coast, however, I discovered I had little to no upload bandwidth on my MacBook Pro. Trying various test sites yielded download speeds in the 12-14Mbps range, but the upload timed out on all of them. I was unable to send a test email from Apple Mail. If I plugged my MBP directly into the ZXV10 W300 modem/router combo that Sonic.net uses, everything worked fine, including standard upload speeds of 1Mbps (that’s why I’m only pretty happy with Sonic.net, by the way–I could really go for a slightly faster upload speed). I also noticed that in the Status menu of the router configuration page, there were a lot of Rx and Tx errors under the Wireless tab, which just didn’t seem good.

A few different things I tried didn’t help:

  • Checked and re-configured the modem according to the Sonic.net wiki (I changed the ‘Bridged’ setting to ‘Enabled’ as it was ‘Disabled’, no effect)
  • Restarted the modem
  • Restarted the MBP
  • Changed the channel on the WLAN from ‘Auto’ to 7, 8, and 11 in case someone had a router hard-coded to channel 1 (my auto-selected channel)
  • Put the MBP really, really close to the router

Here’s what did work:

  1. Log in to the router config page (type 192.168.1.1 into your browser URL bar, default username/password are both admin)
  2. Go to Interface Setup -> Wireless
  3. In the Multiple SSIDs Settings section, Authentication Type was set to WPA-PSK/WPA2-PSK
  4. The menu item directly below that, Encryption, was set to TKIP. When I pulled that menu down, the options available were TKIP and AES.
  5. I switched the Authentication Type to Disabled. NB: don’t leave your router set this way, unless you’re in the middle of the woods somewhere
  6. After re-testing the connection, I was able to upload normally.
  7. When I went to re-enable authentication, I re-chose WPA-PSK/WPA2-PSK.
  8. To my surprise, the Encryption pull-down now included the TKIP/AES option, which wasn’t there before. When I chose this option, my connection worked perfectly.

So, what could have caused this? I suspect that somehow the modem configuration got corrupted, or alternately TKIP-only encryption was working fine for a while, but stopped working with my MBP after a recent OS X 10.8 software update (I applied one while out of town). Either way, I don’t really care what broke, as long as I know how to fix it. If it happens again, that’ll point to the router as the culprit for sure, though.

A true cell phone / landline hybrid?

While last week saw the much-promoted and heavily-anticipated arrival of the iPhone, another significant advancement in wireless telephone service slipped almost under the radar. German-based telecommunications giant T-Mobile announced the addition of a new feature known as HotSpot @Home, which allows subscribers to use their cell phones over their home wireless network, with unlimited calling, for about $10 a month. For anyone who’s had problems with weak service in their house, or who wants the ability to use their cell number as their primary number, this service has been a long time coming. I personally don’t have a land line at home, but sometimes my cell phone won’t ring in certain parts of the house, and of course, mucho daytime minutes can cost mucho dollars, so cell phones have historically tended to make good land line substitutes only if you could call after 9pm. If only I had T-Mobile service as far north as I am, but no such luck.

As far as the technology goes, ZDNet’s review found a lot to like about the service, and just a few criticisms, chief among them that the service only works with two phones right now.

The bottom line: Despite a few problems when transitioning between cellular airwaves and wireless networks, the T-Mobile HotSpot @Home service is a great idea. You can save money, get better reception, and possibly even get rid of your existing landline. However, we would wait until the service supports more phones.

T-MobileAnother interesting note about the service: since T-Mobile’s approach to wireless has been targeted at family plans in the U.S., you can also purchase the @Home plan for up to 5 phones for only $20 a month, meaning each member of the family can have a private line with unlimited minutes, a feature that will surely have parents rushing to the store in droves.

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