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AirPort 3.4 issues (#2): signal strength; connection problems; more

AirPort 3.4 issues (#2): signal strength; connection problems; more

Yesterday we covered reports of several different issues with the AirPort 3.4 update, including drops in signal strength/reception and connection problems. We've since received a good number of additional reports from MacFixIt readers.

Signal strength issues We previously noted reports from readers who had experienced significant drops in signal strength and reception after installing AirPort 3.4; readers have followed up with more reports of these issues. Michael Myers writes, "I also noticed a dramatic drop in signal strength and not just cosmetic. I can no longer connect from my kitchen, and never had a problem before." Similarly, Mike Sassman notes, "I noticed that my signal strength meter in my menubar is lower than it was before, by about 1 bar. I routinely sit in the same areas of many different rooms, and it appears to be consistent."

Matt Carrel reports that the change isn't simply a cosmetic change in the AirPort meters:

"I used to be able to connect from my second story bedroom on my PowerBook. I would typically get 1-2 bars. Now I can barely achieve one bar if that...I had written in yesterday indicating I thought the signal readings were cosmetic, but I think it is both lower in reading and lower in actual signal reception."

However, Matt also notes that, for him, the problem only appears to affect AirPort Extreme clients:

"It also seems that non-extreme 802.11b clients are not affected and do not experience any difference in either signal strength or indication.. therefore, it is a reception issue, not a transmission issue..."

Reported fix relating to WEP Reader George Davis experienced reduced reception strength, but found an interesting fix:

"I noticed right after applying 3.4 that my bars dropped way down. But after I did the following, it is back to normal, completely, just as strong as ever: I went into Airport Admin and changed my WEP from 40 to 128 bit... Problem there still. Changed back to 40... Problem went away... Changed back to 128... Problem still gone... I do not know if what I did by changing WEP settings had anything to do with it, but clearly what seemed to be a dramatic loss in signal at first has gone away and stayed away."

Not limited to AirPort Base Station? Reader Nik Gandhi notes similar reception problems, even though he's using a Linksys wireless router:

"I'm using a linksys base station...I downloaded the AirPort software update and my reception has gone from 9 of 15 bars (in the Internet Connect window) to about 6. Also, in the [AirPort status menu] the bar numbers went from 3 out of 4 to about 1 or zero."

Antenna issues Gary Bakken reports that in addition to experiencing a drop in signal strength since installing the update, "the base station will no longer recognize the external antenna connected to it. Even after restarts and resetting the base station. I am now down to one bar and I am only 25 feet from the base station. I am running 10.3.3 on an aluminum Powerbook."

Connection problems Yesterday we noted problems with connections dropping after a few minutes; several readers have reported similar experiences. Ramsey French notes, "I'm suffering from the problem where connection to my router fails after a few minutes. A PC sitting nearby has had no problems."

We've also received a number of reports of problems where AirPort clients are no longer able to obtain an IP address via DHCP after installing the update, and AirPort Extreme Base Stations cannot obtain their own IP addresses from other DHCP servers. For example, Greg Kucharo writes, "After installing the 3.4 update, my Airport Extreme base station is no longer able to get DHCP addresses from my old MacSense MIH-130 XRouter Pro hub. Workaround by manually setting the ABS helps."

Similarly, a number of readers report that since installing the update, their AirPort-equipped Mac or laptop self-assigns itself an IP address in the 169.xxx.xxx.xxx range. This usually occurs when your computer cannot obtain an IP address via DHCP. Interestingly, many of these reports coincide with the user launching a file sharing client such as Limewire or mlMac.

Link to AirPort 3.2 Yesterday we provided a link to the AirPort 3.2 software for those users wishing to downgrade; although the link appears to be for AirPort 3.4, it actually downloads version 3.2. However, you can also get version 3.2 here.

Issues with or fixes for the AirPort 3.4 update? Drop us an email at Late-breakers@macfixit.com.

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