After having a few problems with the Airport Express, usually resolved by unplugging it and plugging it back in again, I took the plunge and upgraded the firmware to version 6.3
I was having issues with it failing too often. Though most of my Mac hardware and the iPad run off my 802.11n Airport Extreme, I still have some hardware that can only use 802.11g and that is what I was using the Airport Express for. The iPhone is one example, but as it has 3G it was less noticable when the Express failed and the wifi didn’t work. However my Canon printer also connected to the 802.11g Express network and when the Express fell over, no one was able to print!
I generally don’t upgrade unless there are security issues or as in this case I am having problems with the hardware. The upgrade went fine and it would appear after a few days now to have solved the issue. The Express has stayed up without falling over, so I am keen to see if this will continue.
If it keeps falling over then I may need to get a new one, of course it would have to be the AirPort Express 802.11n model.
After another session of “not working” I have replaced my aging Airport Express. Though I would like to have replaced it with a new model, I used one that I had got for AirTunes but in the end found wasn’t needed. So it was still sealed, as I hadn’t got around to opening it, or selling it on eBay.
Configuring it was pretty simple using Apple’s Airport Utility, though did forget to put it into Bridge Mode so at first it didn’t work.
Bridge Mode was necessary as my Airport Extreme is the router on my network, which broadcasts at 5GHz 802.11n. I use the Airport Express in 802.11b/g mode for legacy and mobile devices. As the Airport Extreme acts as the DHCP router, adding a second router on the network would mean that devices could connect to the wifi, but wouldn’t be able to access the internet or “connect” with other devices on my network.
The reason for two wireless networks is that the 802.11n network can work at the full 300Mbps speed, whilst legacy and mobile devices will work just fine on a slower network. If I had a single wireless network it would be “slow” for all devices. This usually isn’t too much of a problem, however I do stream video across my network, and when I use to do this in the past (with standard definition video) on an 802.11g network, I found that due to network congestion I would get buffering which was annoying. With 802.11n I can stream high definition video easily across the network to my Apple TV or my iPad. It also works well in moving large files across the network.
802.11n also makes much more sense when using FTTC (fibre) for internet with its higher speeds.
The main problem I was having with the old Airport Express was that it just stopped working and “vanishing” from the network. As a result it would need to be power cycled to get it working again.
So far so good.
BT Infinity is BT’s new broadband product that makes use of fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) to enable even faster speeds than available via normal DSL. In some cases 40Mbs download speeds are possible.
Of course if you are going to make best use of this and have a wireless network, if you use 802.11g then you may find this is not fast enough and want to get an 802.11n wireless router.
Another feature of FTTC is that unlike traditional UK ADSL that uses PPPoA, FTTC uses PPPoE so that a router like Apple’s Airport Extreme is now possible to use direct with the broadband connection. Before you would have needed to use a ADSL modem between your broadband connection and your wireless router.
My local exchange has just been upgraded to FTTC so looking forward to upgrading and trying it out.
There are also trials with FTTP (Fibre To The Premises) that can result in even faster 100Mb speeds. I can wish.
As mentioned before on the blog, my Airport Extreme is becoming less reliable. I am having to reboot it at least once a week now. There is no warning before it goes dodgy.
I am going to wait before replacing it, as we are getting BT Infinity later this month and I am not sure if I will need a new router. If I do need a specific type of router then I will get a new 802.11n router.
My 802.11n Airport Extreme base station is starting to be a little unreliable over the last few weeks.
I bought it in 2007 and it has worked pretty much flawlessly over that timeframe.
The only real difference to my network is that I have started using my iPad on the network.
Is this the cause?