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New MacBook Air Wi-Fi: ‘You Are Not Connected to the Internet’

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The new MacBook Air models have a serious Wi-Fi problem that makes it difficult to recommend buying Apple’s latest computers until the company fixes the issue. Complaints litter Apple’s support forums  and after testing my review 11″ and 13″ MacBook Airs at several locations I can confirm the problem first hand. If your MacBook Air Wi-Fi is causing serious headaches you’re not alone.

The new MacBook Air models are the first Apple devices to feature 802.11ac wireless technology, an upgrade from the 802.11n found in the rest of Apple’s MacBooks and iOS devices. Compared to 802.11n, the 802.11ac standard is faster and allows compatible devices to connect to each other from greater distances. Apple’s new Time Capsule and Airport Extreme routers also feature 802.11ac technology.

Read: New MacBook Air Boasts 12 Hours of Battery Life on a Single Charge

I started using the new 13″ MacBook Air as my primary mobile machine on Monday and the new 11″ MacBook Air part-time, but didn’t have any problems getting online with the new computers. After reading through the Apple support forums it occurred to me that the reason was likely because I was keeping the new MacBook Airs within the comfort of an all-Apple environment.

New-MacBook-Air-13

A new Apple Time Capsule router lives in my ground-floor office and serves as my primary router. An older Apple Airport Extreme extends the network to part of the top floor of my house. When I’m out of my house I almost always use my Verizon iPhone 5 as a personal hotspot rather than dealing with public networks.

After hearing about the issues (Read Moe in our earlier article on the issue), I decided to see what would happen if I connected to others’ Wi-Fi networks as I ran around San Francisco yesterday. The results weren’t pretty.

New MacBook Air Wi-Fi Shows Full signal, but Won't Get Online

New MacBook Air Wi-Fi Shows Full signal, but Won’t Get Online

I could connect to my new MacBook Airs to my parent’s Linksys router and get online, but the connections would consistently drop off after about a minute. The Wi-Fi signal indicator at the top of the MacBook Airs’ desktops indicated full-strength connections, but Web-sites wouldn’t load and ping tests using OS X’s Network Utility timed out. None of the usual tricks for solving Mac Wi-Fi problems resolved the issue. I was able to get online using the same network without issue using a 2012 13″ MacBook Air, iPad mini, three iPhones and a HTC One.

Screen Shot 2013-06-20 at 10.34.50 PM

I tried connecting to four different password-free networks in the neighborhood. I was able to stay online for several minutes on one, but the others stopped working after about a minute.  I couldn’t get online using a public network at Ghirardelli Square with my 13″ MacBook Air.

Some MacBook Air owners have had luck connecting to their routers after  troubleshooting and fiddling with software updates, but that’s not a real solution. As my little experiment illustrates, users generally can’t fix routers outside of their own homes. Instead, they’re just left with a message like “You are note connected to the Internet.”

New-Time-Capsule-802.11acSo what’s the solution? Apple will likely take care of this with a software update, but there’s no telling when that will come. For now, I recommend sticking with Apple routers if your current one isn’t working. It can be frustrating to throw more money at Apple for solving a problem with one of their products, but it’s a lot better than simply not being able to use your shiny new MacBook to get online. iPhone owners can of course use their devices as personal hotspots like I do, but that could result in wireless overage fees.

New MacBook Air buyers frustrated with the new issue can of course simply return their Macs within 14 days of purchase or trade them in for a MacBook Pro with Retina Display if they can’t wait for Apple to solve the issue.

 

Xavier Lanier is the publisher of Gotta Be Mobile and a photographer. He uses too many devices to count, but his current favorites are the iPhone 5s, HTC One, Nikon D800 and Sony RX 100M II. You can follow him on Twitter and Google+.

7 Comments

  1. Tony

    06/21/2013 at 9:31 am

    So where the heck is Apple’s testing and quality control? How in the world could they have released these laptops without proper testing? Seems like an awful lot of missteps lately with their product releases. Apple products are not cheap. People deserve better when they spend that much money on a product. Sure, you can return it, but how frustrating is that.

    • Zerpa (@SM2180ND)

      06/22/2013 at 9:04 pm

      There is nothing wrong with the Airs. People need to update the firmware of their wireless stations to the new ac wifi. I did that in my Airport base station and it solved the problem. Now I’m enjoying of improved wifi.

      • maldoror

        08/05/2013 at 11:23 pm

        What about people who don’t have an Airport Base station? What about your local internet cafe? Library? University? That is NOT a solution. There is definitely something wrong with the new MBA if it can’t connect to Wifi networks like any cheap PC can do no problem.

  2. Dave

    07/04/2013 at 8:53 am

    Not correct zeros I did this also and had the wifi issue with a airport xtreme latest update applied. There is a problem

  3. Jolly Andrew

    07/08/2013 at 9:18 am

    All very well updating YOUR router but what about public and other ones? Not the answer.

  4. Sylvia Mendel

    07/19/2013 at 1:27 pm

    I am utterly depressed having been so happy to buy a MacBook Air Wi-Fi last Friday. I had a deadline to meet for an essay competition deadline August 1 with a substantial money prize. Though I’ve bought many times at TekServe I couldn’t buy on that special financing plan because I didn’t have governmental (of some kind) ID.

    Listen up snooty TekServe, I’m 83 years old and in actuality have an urgent deadline – when people question me I say “It’s death.” I’m so mad. Zillions of other things interfere with what one in reality has to do (medical appointments take up the bulk of my time) and so many demands of what others need. This means another trip to Best Buy hopefully they’ll exchange – if not I’m up the creek or if it’s too hot for me to walk over there. Older people are invisible – I’m surprised the Apple big honchos don’t tap into that market and offer something simple that “works.” Guess anyone can tell I’m fighting mad. The worst of this is that I don’t expect to understand the foreign language, acronyms, etc of technology but I’ve done well considering a legitimate learning deficit caused by World War II. Do you think the Mac honchos read these complaints? Thanks for reading my tirade.

  5. Julie Dickinson

    07/21/2013 at 11:37 pm

    I have a 13 inch MacBook Air which is 2.5 years old and I just started having these problems for the past week or so too. The first day it kept happening I updated my router, but I keep having the problems. If I turn my router off and back on I can usually then get a connection until the next time I close my macbook or shut it down then the whole thing starts all over again. It also forgets my wifi key which I have to look up each time as its 16 digits long which is very annoying. I guess what I’m saying is that I believe this is completely a software issue. My husband can sometimes connect to the wifi with his ipad when I cannot. My phone which is motorola can connect too so it has to be a software issue. I’m sitting right only feet away from the router so distance is not an issue. This is also not a local issue as I live in Germany.

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