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WiFi flaky all of a sudden

I am quiet baffled . . . I had WiFi G set-up in my home for months now and it had always worked wonderfully. I am able to connect all through out the house and even outside. But just a few days ago, connection has been sporatic, even though my notebook is in the same room as the access point not more than 5 feet away. I didn't give it much thought. But last night, I cannot connect it from anywhere outside that room. The SSID shows up fine but connection usually fails. Even when it is able to connect, packet lost is practically 100%. Pinging the access point in the same room resulted in 50-75% packet loss. If I get lucky, packets are successfully transfered with decent to high latency.

The only thing I can think of that I changed around the house a few days ago is that I put up four strings of Christmas lights in the back patio (this past weekend). They weren't on at the moment I had this problem. Could the Christmas lights be the source of this problem? It seems that the chance is so remote, but I can't think of any changes in the past week.

What do you guys think?

Chieh Cheng
Tue, 6 Dec 2005 09:29:13 -0800

Some additional note I forgot to post . . .

I had thought that maybe the access point is now failing (even though it is a fairly new device with the router portion disabled). So I tried enabling the WiFi B on my older router with a different SSID on a different channel. The same exact symptom occurs with the 802.11b access point. So I'm fairly certain that the device is not bad, but something else is interferencing with them.

Chieh Cheng
Tue, 6 Dec 2005 10:06:39 -0800

Ok. Seems like I keep leaving out information . . .

I have tested with two other notebooks with the same results. Neither
could connect with the WiFi network. So I think that means the built-in
802.11g network card on my notebook is not defective. One of the two
notebooks is 802.11g, while the other is 802.11b. The 802.11b worked
fine at the dining table on Saturday morning.

Your advice is appreciated. Thanks.

Chieh Cheng
Tue, 6 Dec 2005 10:20:49 -0800

I used NetStumbler to find all of the channels that my neighbors are using. I finally picked channel 1 for my own network. Now I can get on the network from all around my house again. The only problem is that the throughput is still not as high as it was before all this problems started. Instead of getting 54 Mbps like I use to get, both my wife and my notebook gets 48 Mbps. It could drop down to 24 Mbps in other rooms. But at least it's bearable and there are virtually no packet drops.

Last night, we turned on the computers, my wife couldn't get onto the network with her notebook. She couldn't even see the SSID. On a hunch, I unplugged the Christmas Lights that we lit in our backyard patio. (I was a little too lazy to pull the whole Christmas light off to test. Plus my wife would be disappointed if I don't put them back.) And whoa, her notebook found the SSID immediately and was able to connect at 48 Mbps. I also tested it with my 802.11b router, and the SSID wouldn't show up with the Christmas lights on or off, even when it is only 5 feet away from the notebooks. (As I said before the 802.11b worked in every room before.)

Even though I can't guarantee it is the Christmas lights. I now strongly believe that the Christmas lights are interfering with my wireless network whether they are on or off. It's obviously worse when they are on.

Chieh Cheng
Thu, 8 Dec 2005 16:31:29 -0800

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