incredibly frustrating macbook pro wifi connection problems


For the past several months, I've had increasing trouble with my 17" MacBook Pro (purchased last summer) not finding my regular wifi networks, getting terrible connections to access points that are very close by, and generally making it much easier for me to use wired rather than wireless access whenever possible. I've been waiting 'til the school year ended to send it in for service, but now I think that was a mistake in judgment.

I'm out of town at the moment, in Canada, where my cell phone incurs expensive roaming charges, and where I really need to be able to be online to do work as well as communicate with friends and family. Except my computer will not connect to the hotel network from either of the two rooms I've tried. It will work (most of the time) in the hallway, or the lobby. But not in the room--the signal drops to one bar, and then disappears completely.

I finally discovered that if I set the computer up on the bathroom counter (that's the hallway-facing wall), I can get only with at least a weak signal. So right now I'm sitting at a chair I've dragged into the bathroom from the guest room, with my hands at a completely uncomfortable angle, just so I could make a Skype call home and start grading online assignments.

I've been through a bunch of forum suggestions for fixing this...from trashing the system preferences to zapping the PRAM. No luck. Even in the bathroom, the signal keeps dipping from 3 bars back down to one, which is making me think that it's a hardward problem rather than a software one. As danah, would say, "le sigh".

I leave Winnipeg tomorrow for Montreal, where hopefully the hotel room will have a hardwired connection rather than only wifi. And next time I travel, I'm bringing my Vaio with me.


I know that this doesn't help you right now but I've gone to using a Sprint broadband card to ensure I have access everywhere I need it. So far so good.

Even my PC was having trouble with all of the various hotel connections - wired and wireless - rebuilding the TCP/IP stack constantly was not something I thought was a good thing.

It's not cheap but it beats the frustration you are dealing with now.

Two laptops ago I had this problem alllll the time, and I wish I had sent in the laptop (which instead was replaced with a sweet little Dell that does its thang without hiccups, including connecting to wifi).

I think because we're tech-smart we feel that flaky wifi is a problem we ought to be able to fix. If it were a DVD drive that sometimes played DVDs and sometimes didn't, you wouldn't try to fix it yourself. My vote is for pushing Apple to fix the dang laptop. (But I'd also take the Vaio next time so I wouldn't be sweating over "will it connect? Will it?")

Kelly, I actually have a Verizon broadband card for the same reason. The problem is that (a) the card doesn't work in my new Mac, and (b) even if it did, I'm in Canada, so I'd incur outrageously high roaming charges.

And Karen, yes, I need to just send it in. Kicking myself for not having done it a month ago. :(

Dear Elizabeth.

Just a short note to thank you for your presentation at the Manitoba Library Association conference today. Sorry your Mac didn't work too well on the wi-fi. My dad has had the same problem with his Mac.

Unfortunately, I was only able to take in your key note address as I had already planned on taking in "Gaming and the Significance for Information Literacy" - - and some of the more techy staff back at my school and my son were anxious to hear all about what Daniel Bolvin had to say. I passed on a lot of the links to sites you mentioned as well and am hoping to convince some of our non-techy staff to consider using some of the tools you discussed. Some of our teachers are using blogs and a tool called a moodle (, click on staff) I have a library blog - - but, it is more of a website with connected blog pages. I am interested in trying out twitter as a way of letting the students know about new books arriving, activities, contests etc.

Thanks for all the great info! Hope you enjoyed our record high today. Apparently it will be only 9 degrees C on Friday.

- Heather

In Montréal there's always the free Ile sans Fil service - their hotspot map is at The conference building is at ... Will be great to see you tomorrow!

Ahem, shoulda read the post more carefully... sounds like you may run into as much trouble with ISF wifi as with any other wifi signal. Anyhow, hope you can find a wire...


One Month before a had a problem with my WIFI. It nocked down as I had a virus attacked.

How can I get WIFI know?

Pleqse help me


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This page contains a single entry by Liz Lawley published on May 8, 2007 5:21 PM.

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