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Question: WiFi Issues With MacBook Air

I am about two weeks in to my new Macbook Air and love it except for the wifi. I have had five or six other Mac laptops in the past five years including the original air. I can confirm that there are some wifi issues with the Macbook Air. Based on the messages posted here and my experience here is where I am. I think if it is a "N" network it seems to work fine. I have never had an issue with my Airport Extreme at my house or my Dad's Linksys at his house which is also an N. This also I think resolves the "is it an ISP" issue, since they are distinctly different ISP's and these both work perfectly.

My problems are on non-N's it seems. I travel a lot so I hit a lot of guest networks which are almost always "g". These networks I can generally find and attach to them but not get a consistent internet connection. With these networks I have found that turning the airport on/off and refreshing the IP address does not work. Again I can connect to the browser, in most cases get what appears to be a valid IP but not gain any internet access. I have found that a power down and reboot AFTER attaching to the network (but not getting the internet connection) will then give me a steady and consistent connection.

I need to do some more testing and I guess traveling to pin down some of these things but I wanted to share what I have found thus far, but I definitely think there is a problem with the wifi on the new MacBook Air's.


Macbook Pro and iMac 27" and iPad and iPhone and MacBook Air 2010, Mac OS X (10.6.5)

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Nov 28, 2010 3:07 PM in response to gcrump In response to gcrump

FYI, my new 13 in MBA works fine at home with an "older" model of Airpot extreme Base Station (the flying saucer) with the "g" draft specs. I programmed it to recognize the MBA through its mac number.

However, I am unable to connect in a public spot I usually frequent, even though other people with MBs and MBP can (they might not be on 10.6 yet, I did not check).

There, AirPort scans the location and identifies some wifi connections available to the public. I choose one of the connections and enter the wifi password. I do, then, get an IP address, but no access to the Internet. A message says that the MBA has an IP address 198.168.etc, but the that internet service is not available.

I will however try to shut down and reboot after getting an IP address, as you suggested, at my next visit.

Also, on a recent visit to my brother's place, who has no wifi, I usually plug in my computer directly into his cable-modem. For my MBA, I purchased the RJ-45 - USB adaptor. I had the same type of result: I received an IP address, but was unable to have an internet access.

I am sorry I can't be of any help, except to confirm this type of problem. I do have a rendez-vous for a one-to-one at an Apple store and hope to get a workaround.

Best regards, will keep you informed.

Nov 28, 2010 3:07 PM

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Nov 28, 2010 3:41 PM in response to Denis Giguere In response to Denis Giguere

The fact that you get a 198.168.x.x ip address means your wireless is working well.
Next time you see this occur, go to System Prefs->Network and look up the router IP address and then launch Terminal and type
ping <router ip address>

eg: ping

If you get replies, your wireless is fine and you should talk to the network provider if they have some authentication scheme etc.

Nov 28, 2010 3:41 PM

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Nov 29, 2010 6:37 PM in response to wifiguru In response to wifiguru

I currently own a Dell XPS M1330 laptop which I have used exclusively for the past three years. My antivirus protection and extended warranty are running out soon and I am considering coming back to Apple after 10 years away from the fold.

Very interested in the new Macbook Air 13 inch model but concerned about the reports of WiFi connectivity problems (especially in public networks). I use a Verizon broadband card at home and would continue to do so with a Mac but enjoy free WiFi at Starbucks and Barnes and Noble. Any feedback would be appreciated.


Nov 29, 2010 6:37 PM

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Nov 29, 2010 7:17 PM in response to gcrump In response to gcrump

This is an update concerning wifi connection with the MBA 13" (late 2010) at a public location.

gcrump: power down and reboot after getting an IP address has nor worked for me at that public location.

wifiguru: indeed, pinging the IP address displayed in the network window does give me information that the wifi connection is working at that public location.

Follow-up with the IT guy at that public location: I was told that that the bandwith with their ISP is currently saturated, and to try to connect at some other time. I have no means of evaluating if this is true or not.

Running the Network diagnosis on my MBA does indeed show that the "ISP" button is red while the Airport, and Airport settings are green, at that public location.

Tried ANOTHER public location (just walked in another restaurant). I was handed a piece of paper with a password along with the restaurant's menu. I selected their wifi server, punched in the password, and got an immediate and quick connection. They use a Linksys router.

Will try some other public locations tomorrow, and keep you informed.

Best regards

Nov 29, 2010 7:17 PM

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Nov 30, 2010 6:12 PM in response to Denis Giguere In response to Denis Giguere

I went to the mall today with my MBA 13".

- got an immediate and clean wifi connection at the Apple Store;

- got an immediate and clean wifi connection at two different coffee shops;

So, the problem that bugged me seems to have been related not to wifi connectivity of the MBA, but rather indeed to ISP problems at a particular public spot. So its a good idea to run network diagnosis.
And thanks also to wifiguru for the "ping" tip.

Best regards.

Nov 30, 2010 6:12 PM

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Dec 1, 2010 8:25 AM in response to Denis Giguere In response to Denis Giguere

Took my new 13-inch MBA on a trip last week and had no problems connecting with various WLANs in hotels and at WiFi hot spots. In one hotel, though, I had to remove all DNS servers in System Preferences - Network - Advanced... for the Airport interface before I could actually connect to the internet.

Dec 1, 2010 8:25 AM

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Dec 2, 2010 2:46 AM in response to gcrump In response to gcrump

Hi - I'm getting the same problems and it's infuriating 🙂 Until a fortnight ago I used an MBP 17" and had none even though I was using the same wifi connections at exactly the same locations.

I'm in a Starbucks now and, like yesterday and the day before, I'm getting 1.83 Mb/s ( http://www.speedtest.net/result/1053993948.png). I've had one good day (on the home network) when it was at 9.83 Mb/s but within an hour or so it dropped again to under 2Mb/s ( http://www.speedtest.net/result/1053201752.png).

I took the machine in to an Apple Store and the Genius had no idea what was wrong and, of course, it was connecting to their wifi beautifully...... Back home and back to public wifi connections and I'm at snail's pace again.

The key thing for me, as I mentioned above, is that I do not have the same problems with my MBP. The one different component in my set up now is the MBA.

Any ideas what to do next?

Dec 2, 2010 2:46 AM

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Dec 6, 2010 4:11 AM in response to tommclaughlan In response to tommclaughlan

My Mac Air 13" and o/s 4 iPhone 3Sg would not connect to my sisters wi-fi router, but an ASUS portable repeater I had with me would and then I could connect these two devices to the internet. Directly to the router the units acquired IP's and showed as connected in the router setup, but they could not connect to the internet The IP's were usually something like 169.205.x.x No amount of configuring would change this.

Coincidentally, my sister in Montana who has a new iMac 27" had a similar problem with her router. Her older iMac 21" connects ok. Apple service came out and changed out the wifi card, and it worked for awhile then stopped working.

Here is what Apple concluded: ++The results are that in this year's Apple computers they have upgraded the wireless (Airport) card in the machines to match the world wide protocols for wireless protection. The ActionTec, which is now at least 3years old (maybe more) is out of date and will not work on the new Apples with the most recent OS X versions. The 2 year old iMac connects wirelessly with it because it has the old card inside.++

She has a new modem router on order.

Dec 6, 2010 4:11 AM

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Dec 13, 2010 1:22 PM in response to gcrump In response to gcrump

I am having similar problems with my new MBA. Sitting in a coffee shop a friend sitting beside me with a new MBP logged right in and had good access. I could not get in though the menu bar showed a strong signal. Today, same location, fewer people, I got right in, the speed is good. Does it have anything to do with the number of people logged in and the power of the computer ? I have the basic 11 inch model.

Dec 13, 2010 1:22 PM

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Dec 13, 2010 1:57 PM in response to guyha In response to guyha

I continue to have the same problems. It is NOT a DNS issue since I can connect with a MBP or iPAD with no problem at all. I would buy the newer vs. older router issue, I need to do some more exploration on that. My only challenge with the router is how come it will connect sometimes. For example I was at a hotel recently. The night before I could not connect with my Mac at all, yet my iPAD would. The next morning I could connect with my Air. I doubt they upgraded their router over night....

Dec 13, 2010 1:57 PM

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Dec 14, 2010 11:13 AM in response to gcrump In response to gcrump

Have had my new 13 inch Macbook air now for 5 days and think it is lightning fast and a sensational piece of machinery. I was concerned about the WiFi issues but have not experienced any problems working on public WIFi networks (Starbucks, Kinkos, Borders). Borders network is somewhat weaker than the other two but I experienced that slowness with my previous Dell as well. Furthermore, my Verizon 3G mobile broadband card is giving me WiFi-like speeds in an apartment building where I have had a notoriously weak signal.


Dec 14, 2010 11:13 AM

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Dec 16, 2010 7:51 AM in response to gcrump In response to gcrump

I've had my new MBA for a little over a month now, and I love it. However, I can confirm that there are issues with the WIFI. On the same WIFI network I loaded speedtest.net on my new MBA and on my old 2006 MBPro. I got 9MB/s on the old machine, and only 1.8MB/s on the MBA. Tried multiple times and always the same result. Now, at home I'm having all kind of intermittent connection issues with an Airport Extreme while my wife's ThinkPad has no issues at all. All firmware up to date, all systems rebooted multiple times. And yet I bet tomorrow I won't even think of this issue once. I've tried everything I can think of. It's really frustrating, the MBA is great in every other way. It's like I'm using dial-up!

Dec 16, 2010 7:51 AM

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Dec 16, 2010 6:32 PM in response to ianjohn27 In response to ianjohn27

Just a helpful tip(s) for some of you. Don't rely on Public Wifi networks to troubleshoot wireless networking issues.

Also, check out these articles:

WEP is weak. If you show connected to a WEP network with a 169.XX IP address then: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1344?viewlocale=en_US

If you have some slower than expected speeds and it's not related to distance, wireless interference, or being on a public network then:

Dec 16, 2010 6:32 PM

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Dec 19, 2010 11:49 PM in response to gcrump In response to gcrump

I've been having trouble with my work network. Basically it is a dual band network, with N and G, both listed under the same network SSID.

With 10.6.4 it would behave as follows on both my Macbook Pro 17" 2.4GHz and MacBook Air 2010 13":
• Connection would be randomly either the N or G network
• If connected via G, it won't get an IP address immediately, and the internet wont work. It does eventually get an IP address, but no net still.
• If connected via N, it works fine and stays connected.
• If connected via G, I turn airport on and off until it connects with N.

With 10.6.5 for the 17" it would behave the same as above EXCEPT it would:
• Randomly drop from N to G after a few minutes, and thus the net would cut out.

I haven't dared upgrade the Air to 10.6.5, as I suspect the same problem will happen. With 10.6.4 it stays conencted using N.

iPads and iPhones that connect to G don't have any problems. Another 15" recent MBP laptop in the office also has the same problem, I suggest he doesn't upgrade to 10.6.5.

Now this could be a problem with our office network (I can't change settings on the base station to test) but it sounds like others on the intrnet are having the same issue. There is no workaround that I know of other than, don't upgrade to 10.6.5.
To discover if you're using N or G, hold option and click on the airport indicator in the menu bar.

I added more details on the main discussion about 10.6.5 wifi issues here:

Message was edited by: ipearx

Dec 19, 2010 11:49 PM

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Jan 6, 2011 3:11 AM in response to wifiguru In response to wifiguru

@wifiguru Please don't give this stock reply as it's just not true in every case. It is particularly not true in this case where clearly the wireless network is working fine for everyone else but not for particular MBA's.

I experience the same issue - trouble trying to make a successful connection to the internet through a insecure wifi hotspot, but once I do it is completely solid.

Same thing every day:
1 - Establish a connection and wifi all day
2 - Come back the next day and it's unable to connect to the internet - clearly I can see the network, and connect to the router, but it does not establish a connection to the internet (other laptops are working fine, including my other MBP).
3 - I randomly turn both the router (which happens to be in my office, though I don't own it) and my MBA on and off repeatedly until a connection is magically established.
4 - Work hassle free on wifi for the rest of the day again.

I've just followed the advice here:
1 - leave the MBA connected to network but not internet (wifi logo with "!")
2 - then Shut Down MBA
3 - then Boot MBA and connection is established with internet connection.

So Mr Apple, tell me, how exactly is this a problem with the ISP?

When I have my MBA in it's connected but unconnected state, if I then turn off the wifi router my MBA still sees the wireless network, and still sees it with full strength. This does not go away even after a good few minutes of the wireless router being completely powered off!

Strange? Just a little. I suspect that the problem IS with the MBA in that it is not correctly communicating with the wireless networks and is certainly not snowing me the truth.

Jan 6, 2011 3:11 AM

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Question: WiFi Issues With MacBook Air