Wi-Fi Troubleshooting

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Wired vs Wireless

While Wi-Fi is incredibly convenient, it is also less stable than traditional wired connections due to potential interference and range issues. When a consistent, low latency connection is important, it is always advised to use a wired connection instead of Wireless. The same is true for when you're trying to maintain the performance of your line. If you're on a device connected via ethernet and are still seeing issues, please check our Fusion FTTN troubleshooting guide.

Connecting to Wi-Fi

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  • Connecting your wireless device to the Wi-Fi network provided by your Sonic residential gateway is easy! See our Wireless Setup article for more information. If there are any problems, see the below steps to troubleshoot why the connection is failing. You can also check out our quick Wi-Fi troubleshooting video.

Troubleshooting Wireless issues

Wireless has come a long way in the past decade. It is incredibly useful, but is also a bit more complex than connecting your computer with an Ethernet cord. Here are some steps that might help you diagnose and address wireless issues on your own.

No networks listed

  • Can you see other Wi-Fi networks in your networks list?
Windows: On the bottom right hand corner should be the wireless icon. The symbol itself is 5 bars that grow taller from left to right and can be seen in the image below. Once clicked on, a list of available connections will pop up.
Mac: The wireless icon will be in the top right hand corner and will look like a cone elongating upward and can be seen in the image below. Once clicked, a list of available connections will pop up.
Mobile Devices: Mobile devices can vary depending on manufacturer. There are two common methods to getting to the list of wireless networks. The first would be to swipe down from the top of the device's screen and select the Available Wi-Fi Networks option. The second would be to go to Settings.
  • If no networks are being displayed, make sure your Wi-Fi is turned on. On most Apple computers and all smartphones, the Wi-Fi menu should say On/Off and have a little switch to toggle this. On Windows computers, especially laptops, there usually isn’t a switch; instead you’ll have a button on the keyboard to turn Wi-Fi On/Off. A good list of where this button or switch is located on many different models is available here: http://www.fixonspot.com/how-to-turn-onoff-wireless-in-various-laptop-models/
  • If you have verified Wi-Fi is enabled and are still having problems, a great next step would be to restart the device. If problems persist, we would strongly recommend contacting the manufacturer of the device.
Windows Android Mac
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Sonic network not listed

  • If you can see the other Wi-Fi networks, but not your Sonic network, first restart both your device and the residential gateway. To restart the RG, unplug the power cord for a full 30 seconds before plugging it back in and letting it boot back up. The reboot process can take up to 5 minutes.
Tip: Make sure you are looking for the right Wi-Fi name. If you just switched from your previous carrier to Sonic, or you've just received a replacement device, remember that your Wi-Fi network name has changed. If you are using a third party router (like an Apple Airport, or a Linksys router) then the Wi-Fi name and password will be specific to that device. If you have trouble getting those third-party routers up and running, try connecting directly to the Wi-Fi on your Sonic RG and see if that works.
  • If restarting both your RG and device did not fix the problem, then the next step would be to factory reset the Sonic residential gateway to its default settings. If you do this, it will erase any configuration changes you have made since you received the RG.

Sonic network listed, cannot connect

  • The first thing you should do when you can see your Sonic Wi-Fi network but cannot connect is to examine the error message. Although for most problems, the error is going to be a basic ‘failed to connect’ you should just double-check and make sure it doesn’t mention anything about a bad password or key. In Windows, after entering the password incorrectly twice, it will specify the key/passphrase as incorrect. Most mobile devices will also include some kind of error message when the password entered was wrong. Unfortunately, Mac will not give any error that indicates a password specifically, it will just supply a connection timeout. Examples of all of these can be found below. In some cases, you might be presented with a dialogue box prompting you to input a PIN or WPS code rather than your wireless password, and this distinction is vital to the troubleshooting process.
  • If the password is not the problem, try restarting both your device and the Sonic residential gateway. To restart the residential gateway, unplug the power cable from the back for a full 30 seconds before plugging it back in and giving it a couple of minutes to boot back up.
  • If that fails to fix the problem, changing the security type would be a good step. By default, the Sonic residential gateway comes configured with WPA2. Anything older than Apple OS 10.3 (released back in 2003) or older than Windows XP (released back in 2001) will not support WPA2.
Tip: A quick way to troubleshoot whether the issue is due to security type is to turn security completely off and test like that. If it works, you then know the issue is the security type and you can find one that will work for your setup. You can do this by logging into the RG's interface. First, open up a web browser and go to 'gateway.sonic.net'. Next, go to Settings --> LAN --> Wi-Fi. Part way down this page, you will see a section for Security. At the top will be a checkbox. Unchecking this will disable security. This will change your Wi-Fi network to not require any kind of password to connect. We only recommend doing this briefly for testing purposes. Don’t forget to turn security back on if you try troubleshooting this way!
Windows Android Mac
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Windows 10 issue

Windows 10 is still new and many customers have reporting issues connecting to networks after their upgrade to Windows 10. In most cases, downloading the most recent driver for your device has fixed the issue. This is not something our customer support can walk you through, but if you take the model number of your computer to the manufacturer’s website, you can usually find a list of all the drivers (you are looking for ones that say Ethernet, Wireless/Wi-Fi and Network Adapter) for your device.

Troubleshooting Wi-Fi Speeds

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Uploading/Downloading: Sometimes the suspected culprit of poor performance is wireless interference when in fact the real issue is bandwidth saturation.

Positioning: Think of your router as a sprinkler, it sends out signal in a circular pattern. Placing it in the center of the home generally gives more consistent connection than placing it on the far side of a residence. Materials like brick, concrete, marble and sheet metal will block Wi-Fi signal. You also want to make sure that the residential gateway is not right next to devices that emit electro-magnetic interference like speakers, refrigerators, etc. as they can cause connection issues.

5GHz: If your router is dual band and has both 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks available and the device you are connecting with also dual band capable, it may be worth checking whether or not it’s connecting to 2.4GHz or 5GHz. 5GHz tends to offer a more stable connection and since it is newer technology, fewer people have it available and by extension there is less interference. 2.4GHz tends to have more interference, but has longer range than 5GHz. In some cases your device may choose 2.4GHz by default while 5GHz is available and would be the better option. The reverse is true as well, where your device is using 5GHz, but because of range 2.4GHz would be the stronger connection. Most routers will broadcast both the 2.4GHz and the 5GHz channel (with the 5GHz usually being named differently - like 'My Wi-Fi' and 'My Wi-Fi 5G') and you can switch between them easily. Some routers will provide the same name for both networks and you will have to rename them yourselves. We recommend consulting the manufacturer of your specific router if you need to know how to do this. This Wiki article shows you how to rename your network on our Pace 5268 RG.

Wi-Fi Channels

Wireless N has 11 channels. These channels do overlap with others. The ones with the least overlap are 1, 6 and 11. By default, most routers come configured for auto channel selection. The problem with this is that most auto selection software is unable to factor in interference from non-Wi-Fi sources. For example, a lot of microwaves tend to add interference around Channel 9. Auto-selection software may see Channel 9 as free of clutter when it comes to other Wi-Fi networks, but it has no way to see other factors affecting signal. You can try configuring your Sonic RG to use a specific channel. You can do this by logging into the RG by opening a browser and navigating to gateway.sonic.net. Go to Settings, followed by LAN right underneath that and finally wireless underneath that. You will then find settings for Wi-Fi, including how to change channels.

Changing Channels on Fusion FTTN

If you are on our Fusion FTTN service, this will be http://192.168.1.254. Refer to the sticker on the side of the RG. It will contain the appropriate address labeled as ‘For Advanced Configuration’. Go to Settings, followed by LAN right underneath that and finally Wireless underneath that. You will then find settings for Wi-Fi, including how to change channels.

Wireless Scanners

A wireless scanner can help you determine how limited you are by other wireless networks in your area. Instead of trying multiple different channels and trying to find which one seems to work best, you can simply download a scanner and find out which channel is going to operate best. Be sure to run the wireless scan on the device having problems to ensure you're seeing all affected traffic. For instance, if your phone isn't 802.11AC compatible, it might not see traffic on the 5GHz band affecting your computer. All of the following programs are examples of what can be used and are not recommended by Sonic.

Android

  • Wi-Fi Analyzer
  1. Download Wi-Fi Analyzer from the Google Play store.
  2. After the app has launched, click the eyeball icon to bring up the menu of different views.
  3. Select Channel Graph to view a graph of networks on all available channels.
  4. Monitor the rise and fall of the signal strength of the visible access points on this graph for at least 60 seconds before choosing an ideal channel.
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Apple OS10

  • Built in Wireless Diagnostics
  1. Open the Wireless Diagnostics utility by searching for it in Spotlight.
  2. Instead of going through the dialog option that prompts, go to the Window > Scan menu on the status bar, located at the top of your screen.
  3. The Summary will report on total networks and best recommended 2.4GHz and 5GHz channels.
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Apple iOS

  • Airport Utility
  1. Download and install the Airport Utility app.
  2. Navigate to Settings > AirPort Utility > Turn on “Wi-Fi Scanner” mode.
  3. Launch AirPort Utility app and top right will show “Wi-Fi Scan” option in blue.
  4. Select scan duration from 10 to 60 seconds or continuous scanning.
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Windows

Some freeware programs not recommended by Sonic but commonly used for this purpose are:

  • NirSoft Wi-FiInfoView

This program is very basic and will let you see what channels nearby networks are using. It is also nice as it does not require installation, just running the program.

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  • NetSurveyor

This program is a little more robust. It does require installation, but offers more visual displays and logging of data.

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