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Issue #548: January 21-27, 2018

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Q: When I got Cox Internet, my laptop kicks me off wireless at exactly 3 minutes. Will search and regain network only to be kicked off every 3 minutes. No technician can solve the problem. Does not happen on any other network.

– Jean H.
No City Given, Florida

A: There are many things that are required to be working correctly in order for you to have a working Internet connection, Jean.  Not all of the parts are under your control, nor are they testable by you.  The ones that you can control include the modem, router, and any interconnecting cables (yes, even if you’re on Wi-Fi, your network connection ultimately goes through at least one cable before leaving your house).  Of course, this also includes the laptop itself, its network interface card, and all the software settings that support their proper operation.  Then, outside your responsibility is the provider’s equipment, which consists of some unknown quantity of hubs, routers, cables, and other networking hardware, all of which needs to be working properly.

A lot of the above can easily be eliminated, simply by analyzing the problem.  For example, virtually all of the provider’s hardware outside your house can be checked-off, since the problem is not a loss of the Internet so much as a loss of connection to the router in your house that attaches you to the cable modem.  A couple of things you can easily check include Windows’ Power Management settings to be sure you haven’t told it to allow your network connection to go to sleep after 3 minutes.  I also suggest you try running with the laptop hard-wired to your network and see if the problem persists.  I realize that you said “Does not happen on any other network,” which I took to mean that you’ve taken the laptop elsewhere and used other Wi-Fi without experiencing the drop-outs.  Still, you need to narrow down the precise situation in which the problem occurs in order to isolate the problem.

There are environmental factors in your home that could affect Wi-Fi performance as well.  The 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands used by Wi-Fi are also typically used by such devices as cordless phones, alarm systems, RF remote controls, and so on.  Some routers hop from channel to channel to keep the signal clean, and it’s possible that when it lands on a noisy or saturated channel, you lose the signal.  There are settings in your router that you can tweak to set the router to one specific channel rather than allowing it to “auto channel”.  See your router’s documentation for more on this feature.

Beyond that, you have strongly implied that this problem didn’t exist before you switched to Cox as your Internet Provider.  I’m sorry, but I cannot accept your over-broad statement that “No technician can solve the problem.”  If none of the above suggestions helps, it seems to me that a call to Cox technical support is in order, since you’re currently paying for a severely under-performing service.  Don’t take “No” for an answer, and insist that they have a technician investigate the problem.  If they can’t or won’t help, it might be time to switch to another provider.

This is just a reminder to my readers in the Florida Panhandle that the 12th Annual Computer Tech Expo is right around the corner.  Computer Tech 2018 takes place on Saturday, January 27th at the Student Services Center on the campus of Northwest Florida State College in Niceville, Florida.  This workshops featured at the event are conducted by local IT experts and/or trainers with many years of experience in their field, so this is a unique opportunity to get trained-up on a variety of cutting-edge topics.  This year’s keynote address will be delivered by Carl Lofstrom, the founder of the Tech Expo, and President of the South Walton Computer & Technology Club.  Carl will be speaking on the topic “Learning How to Learn It”.  Yes, I’ll be there too, for my 10th appearance at the expo.  I’ll be hosting a “Meet the Geek” presentation that usually devolves into half tech Q&A and half bad stand-up comedy act.  There will also be vendor tables, door prizes, and the opportunity to connect with numerous local computer groups.  Lunch will be available at the venue for a modest cost.  It should be a lot of fun, so come on out and join us!  For more information, or to register for your FREE tickets, visit ComputerTechNWF.org.  And tell ‘em The Geek sent you!

 

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