Subscribe via RSS Feed

Technical bleg: curious iPad wifi problem

April 4, 2013 4 Comments

I bought my first iPad (original model) about six months after they came out, and replaced it with an iPad 2 about four months after they came out. So I’ve been using an iPad for about 2 1/2 years. For most of that period, my typical iPad usage has included checking e-mail and blogs first thing in the morning — while still in bed — and regular watching of streaming and downloaded content at night, again while in bed.

Then one evening about two weeks ago, as I went to watch something on Netflix, I noticed I had no wifi signal on my iPad, whereas I usually have a decent connection to my router (Netgear WNDR4500 dual-band). I brought up the Settings app and verified that WiFi was on. I went into the WiFi section; the name of the 5 GHz (we’ll call it “B2”) appeared, though with weak strength. (Note that the 2GHz band, “B1”, didn’t appear at all.) I tried to connect and got the “Could not connect to B2” message. I walked out of our bedroom into the living room — the router is one floor up, in an open area — and immediately made the connection. Walked back into the bedroom towards my side of the bed and lost the signal again just as I was rounding the bed to the far side (where I sleep).

Repeat and rinse, with the usual thumps and reboots (rebooted router, rebooted iPad, moved router a bit, etc.), but continued to have the same problem. This is puzzling, because everything worked just fine up until then. Even more puzzling: my iPhone 4S, in exactly the same location, was connecting just fine to the router via the B1 band (which my iPad couldn’t even see). Likewise, the AppleTV in our bedroom — actually slightly farther away from the router and only about 6′ from where I sit on my bed — had a strong connection.

But here’s the most telling fact: if I use my wife’s iPad 2 — same model, same configuration (64GB/3G/wifi) — in the exact same spot on my side of the bed, I see strong signals from both B1 and B2 (vs. no B1 and an unconnectable B2 with my iPad).

My first solution was to go into the furnace room, where I have a wall of plastic storage drawers filled with various cables and components. I didn’t have a true repeater, but I fashioned one out a wireless bridge and an access point (i.e,. router <~> bridge <-> access point <~> iPad). It worked, but I still had one or two incidents of the iPad having trouble connecting to the access point, even though it was only 1-2′ away.

In the meantime, I did order a real repeater (Netgear dual band). When it arrived, I set it up in our bedroom about 10′ from where I would normally sit in my bed. It worked the first time I tried, but later that same day (yesterday), the iPad suddenly couldn’t see either SSID from the repeater, though it could see (as before) one of the router’s SSIDs (but would not connect to it). I moved the repeater closer — to the wall opposite the food of our bed — and suddenly I could see both of the repeater’s SSIDs.

So, somehow my iPad’s wifi capability has been diminished. I don’t know if it’s a hardware problem or a software problem. I may back it up and then do a clean restore. Anyone out there know of similar problems?


Filed in: Main, Maintenance

About the Author:

Webster is Principal and Founder at at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor for the BYU Computer Science Department. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at 303.502.4141 or at

Comments (4)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Undine says:

    You are describing exactly my problem.
    I have the I-pad 2 and my husband has the I-pad 3. Worked like a charm till two weeks ago. Now they “see” our home server but for the life of it won’t connect.
    I have had an IT guy here for three hours, he couldn’t fix it.
    Called our provider, the server is fine.
    Talked to Apple for 19 $, whipped the entire I-pad clean and reinstalled, to no avail.
    Rebooted the router, everything. Spent about 3 hours on it today, no step closer.

  2. bfwebster says:

    I think it’s a hardware failure of some kind. That’s a bit strange, but it’s hard to explain otherwise why my iPad suddenly has these problems, while my wife’s iPad — as noted, exact same model, exact same OS — does not. ..bruce..

  3. Viet says:

    Interesting. I guessed 99% hardware problem. Somehow, the wifi chip did not work as before.

  4. Laurel says:

    What a stuff of un-ambiguity and preserveness
    of valuable experience about unpredicted feelings.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.