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Apple's iOS 6 stumbles on basic connectivity: Wi-Fi

Apple is struggling with a number of issues after the release of iOS 6 and the iPhone 5, not least of which is Wi-Fi connectivity.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
Brooke Crothers
2 min read
Apple's speed claims regarding wireless have proved elusive for some iOS 6 device owners.
Apple's speed claims regarding wireless have proved elusive for some iOS 6 device owners. Apple

PHILADELPHIA -- Apple's iOS 6 has not fared well with Wi-Fi.

Though this isn't the first time a new Apple operating system or device has had Wi-Fi issues, the situation this time around has been exacerbated by the release of the iPhone 5, putting an iOS 6 device immediately into millions of consumers' hands.

Not to mention all of the upgrades. Reports cite 60 percent of iPhone and roughly 40 percent of iPad owners upgrading to the new OS so far.

The fallout is numerous forum discussions on Wi-Fi connectivity problems. For example, there are currently two major Wi-Fi threads (at least) in the Apple Support Communities -- here and here. Together, those two threads total, so far, more than 150 pages.

And count me in as an affected user in the two groups cited above. My iPhone 5 and Retina iPad (now with iOS 6) work on some Wi-Fi networks and not others.

Which brings us to yet another thread related to iOS 6 and Netgear routers. The only way I could quickly get my iPhone 5 and Retina iPad working on a Netgear Wi-Fi router was to downgrade the firmware. That worked but seemed like an odd solution. (And, it's safe to say, one a lot of consumers would not be aware of.)

And other kinds of Wi-Fi issues are popping up in forums, such as a persistently slow Wi-Fi speeds, which is different than the plain-old-doesn't-connect snafu. (I had the latter issue only.)

As usual, Apple is officially mum on the issue, i.e., the company hasn't made an official statement, though Apple's technical support is aware of the problem. The person I contacted said Apple knows about the Wi-Fi problem and that it was tech support's job to "document everything" so Apple can eventually come up with a fix.

And while we're on the subject, the 4G LTE on my iPhone 5 and Retina iPad can be spotty (I had been forced to use LTE when I would normally connect to Wi-Fi, but couldn't). Even in dense metropolitan areas (for example, Los Angeles and Philadelphia) connectivity can bounce back and forth between 3G and LTE like a pinball. But that's another topic for another day.

Of course, this hasn't been Apple's only problem with the rollout of iOS 6. Apple Maps has been slammed, eliciting an apology from CEO Tim Cook.

Looks like Apple has its damage-control work cut out for it.

First Look
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