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Mysterious Airport dropouts solved?

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Tell me if this scenario sounds familiar. You're happily using your Mac (naturally), surfing the net or shopping the iTunes Store, when your WiFi signal suddenly drops. Your Mac sees the Airport Basestation, but it's not letting you out. Only restarting the basestation itself will renew the connection.

It's happened to me several times. Often it will be good for months at a time, then execute these random drops several times per week. If you've experienced this too, you know how frustrating it is.

Gedeon Maheux of The Iconfactory (and friend of TUAW) has found a possible culprit ... plus a solution that works for him, and hopefully for you too.

After a fruitless testing phase that included re-locating basestations, disabling Wi-Fi enabled non-Macs (like TiVo and a Wii), and removing an Airport Express from the network, Ged had a break in the case.

By using the freeware utility AP Grapher, he identified the wireless routers in his neighborhood. Even though several of them were hundreds of feet away from his house, he was still picking up their signals. At that time, the channel would be cluttered with radio noise, prompting the basestation to cease broadcasting until the noise went away. That could take a few minutes, or a very long time.

With his Mac's Airport Preferences set to Automatic, his machine would occasionally select those channels, so that was the first thing to eliminate. Most people use their router at factory settings, and most routers use channel 6 out of the box. By avoiding 6 (as well as one channel above and below), Ged has happily avoided the issue since Christmas.

Thanks, Ged! Here's hoping this tip helps you, too. If cleaning up your channel choices doesn't improve your wireless life, you might try the suggestions of some commenters on Mike's recent 10.5.2. wireless issues post and turn of "Delayed ACK" on your wireless connection. You can use the command in the comment to turn off Delayed ACK temporarily, or use Systemsboy's startup item to disable it longer-term.

Don't forget, our Sunday night talkcast is all about Mac OS X issues and problems this week -- don't forget to chime in with your ongoing aggravations!

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