I’m having trouble with my wireless network in my apartment. All mobile devices (iDevices) don’t have problems to connect, but our laptops (Mac and Windows) need to turn off and on their Wi-Fi to connect to the nearest Wi-Fi access point. What am I doing wrong and how can I fix this?

Plan can be viewed here:

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Devices situation:

3 mobile devices (no problem), 3 laptops - 2 Mac / 1 Windows (disconnecting, etc.)

Network situation:

  • A) ISP modem + Wi-Fi, connected to a Internet over Power (socket) sender to B) or C)
  • B) Internet over Power (socket) receiver + Wi-Fi
  • C) Internet over Power (no Wi-Fi) + AirPort Extreme Wi0Fi

Note: All Wi-Fi points have same network name called Airport. Reason: I don’t want to turn on/off my Wi-Fi radios on laptops when entering a new room.

The strange thing is, the mobile devices (iDevices) pick up the signal without any problem.

  • There's really no such thing as a reliable handover unless all access points are explicitly cooperating, because clients just won't do it on their own (at least I've never seen it work without access point intervention). Access point handover coordination is rarely a feature which consumer grade devices offer, although I've seen it with powerline products -- but only if you install several from the same vendor, of course. -- Anyway, what makes you think you neet to disable/enable WiFI if you go to a different room, just because you use different network names? – Run CMD May 25 '16 at 8:13
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    Try putting all AP's on same wifi channel. – JohnnyVegas May 25 '16 at 9:16
  • @ClassStacker: Perhaps previous experience with mistakenly running two separate routers (with their own subnets and DHCP) under the same SSID? Clients don't expect to be suddenly put on another subnet when roaming, so such setup would have had exactly that problem... – user1686 Jun 6 '16 at 4:17
  • @grawity As I read it, the OP said he chose identical SSIDs b/c he doesn't want to disable and enable WiFi when changing rooms. This implies he believes that having different SSIDs requires toggling WiFi. You're giving an explanation for a case where having identical SSIDs requires toggling WiFi. Or else I'm getting something wrong here. – Run CMD Jun 11 '16 at 14:15

The 802.11 protocol leaves roaming decisions up to the clients. Some enterprise-class APs try to be too-clever about it and force clients to roam by playing tricks behind the clients' backs, but most consumer grade equipment will not. Despite what someone else said, you should NOT put both APs on the same channel; they'll just interfere with each other. You want them on different channels to maximize bandwidth.

Most clients only try to roam to a new AP if the signal strength they get from the current AP drops below a threshold. If that threshold is set too low in your clients (and it's often hard-coded, not something you can set), then they will stay on the now-distant AP they started on even if they're nearer to another AP publishing the same network name.

There's really nothing you can do on the Mac case. On the Windows case, you could check your Wi-Fi driver's advanced properties to see if you can tweak the roam threshold.

  • Thanks for the explanation Spiff. I'll try to expend the wireless signal with a new Airport Extreme and will use my old one as extender. Hope that helps. – rwzdoorn May 27 '16 at 5:53
  • Recommending a different WiFi channel for avoiding interference is really not such a good advice. In fact, it may be exactly something to avoid. As a matter of fact, if you don't choose a proper channel distance (also depending on other WiFi signals in range) you're going to create a problem you didn't have before. Actually, in many scenarios -- especially with only one or a few clients -- choosing the exact same channel is your best option, unless you operate the only WiFi access points around. @rwzdoorn I don't suggest to follow this advice without looking at the details. – Run CMD Jun 11 '16 at 11:59
  • Additionally, calling access point strategies to force clients into a handover "too clever" is misleading, because these techniques work rather well (as opposed to letting the clients decide). More and more consumer grade devcies aiming at solving connectivity problems, such as powerline products with WiFi access points, incorporate such functionality at affordable prices (your mileage may vary, of course.) – Run CMD Jun 11 '16 at 12:03

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