wi-fi: worthless technology and bad service?

I am not sure if I am just incredibly unlucky, or if Wi-Fi (WLAN) is just inherently unstable and dysfunctional technology? During the last couple of years, I have bought and tried to set up four different Wi-Fi routers/base stations, and all of them have proved to be failures. First I got a Belkin wireless USB adapter that I used for peer-to-peer connection from my laptop to workstation (very poor performance, no signal if I went as far as to bedroom), then I invested into another Belkin product, a wireless 802.11g router thinking it would be the fix. Hah. For some reason, it drops the connection every 60 seconds or so for a period of c. 15 seconds. But as the system was so complex to configure and I had so little time to troubleshoot it, the guarantee period expired before I could sort out that the problem was indeed with the device rather than with some error of mine. Enter the third device, a Netgear router with its new 108MB speed technology and salesperson’s reassurance that this would certainly solve my problems. Amazingly, it actually worked rather fine for nine months (after I had first spent two hours straight in phone with the Netgear helpline, which by the way connects your calls to India, to set it up). It was only this week that the network suddenly vanished. After some debugging, it became apparent that everything else still worked, but the wireless part of Netgear had failed. Well, there was still some guarantee left, and I took couple of hours off my work to drive to Gigantti where I had bought the machine and sort it out. Oh yes… It is now 48 hours later, and my WLAN is not yet working. I have been instructed to call Netgear helpline to get my router replaced, spent half an hour explaining to the Indian helpdesk person same things over and over, calling to the Gigantti helpdesk, spending time hanging on and hearing them slowly type email to the Gigantti store personnel to inquire them about the situation, driving then despaired personally to Gigantti because no-one (of course) returned to my inquiry, asked by the store personnel to phone back to Gigantti helpdesk, and then finally (grudgingly, and after some testing whether I had indeed diagnosed the failure right) given a replacement product, a Philips SNB6500 which has roughly similar technology like the Netgear device it replaced. The only problem is, that now, after more than six hours tonight spend sorting this out, the Philips is still not connecting to internet. It appears to be unable to acquire a dynamic IP from the Zyxel ADSL modem, even if all the other devices in my LAN are perfectly able to do so. Well, I suppose you cannot always win. It is just surprising to see all these things failing with this 100 % consistency. That is reliability in a way, after all.

Author: frans

Professor of Information Studies and Interactive Media, esp. Digital Culture and Game Studies in the University of Tampere, Finland.

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