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Tuesday, May 11, 2010, 05:10 am PT (08:10 am ET)

Apple to issue software fix for lingering iPad Wi-Fi problems

iPad owners who have been plagued by Wi-Fi connectivity issues could have the problem resolved with a forthcoming software fix from Apple.

A newly updated support document from Apple explicitly states that the iPad maker will issue a software update to address the issues. It does not, however, provide a timeline for the planned fix.

"A very small number of iPad users have experienced issues with Wi-Fi connectivity," the document reads. "This article outlines workarounds for these issues. Apple will also address remaining Wi-Fi connectivity issues with a future iPad software update."

In the interim, Apple offers a number of potential fixes for the issue:

  • Verify your Wi-Fi router firmware is up to date.
  • If your router's security encryption is WEP, try WPA or WPA2, as WEP can cause intermittent disconnects with the iPad which requires retyping a password.
  • Make sure the iPad screen brightness is not at the lowest level.
  • Obtain a new IP address by going into Settings, Wi-Fi, accessing the settings of the current network, and choosing "Renew Lease."
  • Finally, if these steps do not work, users are recommended to try turning Wi-Fi off and back on.

If none of the above methods address connectivity issues, users are asked to contact Apple support.

Just days after the iPad launched, AppleInsider noted the Wi-Fi issues reported by numerous users. Problems have occurred with a variety of routers, including Apple's own AirPort Extreme, and range from a weak signal to an inability to connect to a network.

Apple quickly set up a support document for users who have problems getting their iPad to rejoin known Wi-Fi networks after a restart or waking from sleep. The company said issues were known to occur with some third-party Wi-Fi routers that are dual-band capable. Apple recommended creating separate Wi-Fi network names to identify each band, such as adding 'G' to the 802.11g network name, and 'N' to the 802.11n network. It also recommended using the same security type, such as WPA, for both bands.

The iPad's Wi-Fi issues were pegged as a software problem by Princeton University last month. The school's Office of Information Technology reported that a software glitch in the device causes it to use a network-assigned IP address after its lease has expired.

Princeton suggested that the problem comes from within iPhone OS 3.2, as the iPad will incorrectly continue using an IP address without renewing its lease, usually for hours. The issue is resolved when the iPad asks for a new DHCP lease, or the device disconnects from the network. The university found that more than half of all iPads on the campus demonstrated the malfunction.

The university offered a cumbersome temporary workaround until Apple issues a software update: reconfigure the iPad's settings so that the screen never locks. This can be done by going to Settings, General, Auto-Lock and choosing "Never." Users must also turn off Wi-Fi before they manually lock the screen. Other options were to turn the iPad completely off, rather than just locking it, or to simply leave the iPad on without locking the screen.

"We recognize that this workaround represents some inconvenience to the iPad customer," the documentation from Princeton's IT office read. "We view the workaround as a temporary workaround to allow these customers the opportunity to use their devices on the campus network until there is a fix from Apple."