Geek News: Latest Technology, Product Reviews, Gadgets and Tech Podcast News for Geeks

Android Causing WiFi Router Lockups

Posted by tomwiles at 12:38 AM on January 3, 2012

I’ve had an Android phone for about a year and a half (the HTC Evo from Sprint) but primarily because of battery use issues I’ve never used it on my home WiFi network.

In the interim, a few months ago I purchased a Barnes & Noble Nook Color, which runs a custom version of Android. I’ve also experimented with dual-booting the Nook with CyanogenMod 7, an open-source version of Android. When I dual-boot into CyanogenMod 7 and connect to my Apple Airport Extreme router, the router will loose Internet connectivity after only a few minutes, requiring me to cycle the router’s power off and back on to restore connectivity.

Now that I’ve been able to install the authorized version of Netflix onto the Nook after Barnes and Noble’s latest Nook OS update, I tried running Netflix on the Nook on my home network. After watching video for 15 or more minutes, my Apple router loses Internet connectivity.

My youngest brother has a newer HTC Android phone, and after he connected to my local WiFi network almost immediately the Apple router lost connectivity. It happened so frequently at one point that I was beginning to think the router was dying.

However, after futher experimentation I’ve determined that if I don’t connect any Android devices to my WiFi, the router seems to work as flawlessly as ever.

Time to check Mr. Google. Using the Google-suggested search term “android crashes router” (the term pops up immediately after I start typing “android cras   “ so I know plenty of other people are looking for a solution) 4,730,000 results come up. After reading through a number of posts by people experiencing the same issue, I have yet to come up with a definitive answer. What is it about a variety of versions of Android connecting to WiFi that is causing many different brands of routers to lose Internet connectivity? The problem is by no means an Apple Router/Android WiFi incompatibility – it therefore seems more likely an issue with Android itself, or at least certain Android builds.

The suggested fixes range from people suggesting that they try to update their router’s firmware to trying to confine the router to Wireless “G” only.

Ironically my HTC Evo phone can also be used as a WiFi hotspot. I can connect any Android device to the Evo’s WiFi hotspot feature and transfer all the data I want without issue. In other words, Android cannot cause my Android phone’s hotspot feature to lose Internet connectivity.

It would be logical to assume that this problem is an Android software issue. The problem seems inconsistent, most probably because of the patchwork-quilt variety of Android hardware and custom OS builds.

So far, the problem hasn’t even seemed to be officially acknowledged as an issue. I suspect that bad Android battery life has prevented a lot of people from trying to connect their Android phones to their home networks via WiFi, so mass numbers of people likely haven’t experienced the potential WiFi router crashing problem.

Of the people that do connect their phones to home WiFi routers, some people never have a problem, while others are constantly plagued by it.

Android crashing WiFi routers is enough to cause me to veer away from future Android devices, unless and until the problem is solved. Phase one of the chaos of the Windows desktop has spread to smartphones.

Welcome to the new Windows fractal – it’s name is Android.

13 Comments

  1. From Jeff at 5:37 am on January 3, 2012

    I have an evo 4g and my battery lasts all day using wifi. To the best of my knowledge I have never caged my home router. Wifi is the best way to go for battery management on my phone by far.

  2. From Chris at 8:59 am on January 3, 2012

    Get rid of the Apple router and get a real router like a Cisco router I don’t have that issue with my router so Apple may be blocking Android phones from connecting.

  3. From Rob S. at 11:45 am on January 3, 2012

    Tom,

    >> It would be logical to assume that this problem is an Android software issue.

    Actually, since cell phone software is typically updated automatically while the router software probably requires manual updates, it’s more logical to assume the problems is a router software issue. A device is supposed to be designed to _gracefully_ ignore new and unknown protocols, but if for example the router responds to a cell phone’s request “do you support new protocol X?” by locking up, that’s a bug in the router software.

  4. From rob1234 at 12:53 pm on January 3, 2012

    Well as always Apple is probably dong something propitiatory on there devices (router in this case) and it’s failing. Does not seem to be a problem with any other router. By a router from a networking company, not a marketing company and you might have better results.

    Also, if you had any clue at all you would understand that using Wifi on an Android phone will save battery cause it using less then 3/4g and will disable 3/4g when connected.

  5. From john at 3:28 pm on January 3, 2012

    I just replaced my Nexus One with an HTC Rezound, in over two years of regular use I have never crashed a router. I regularly use public wifi, to my knowledge none of them have crashed either.
    A quick search shows over twice as many results for “apple crashes router” as it does for “android crashes router”, but as you are probably aware that is not a good way to get at the truth. I would suggest you update your Apple firmware and leave the trolling to the trolls.

  6. From Andrew at 4:19 pm on January 3, 2012

    There are myriad issues with wifi access points and transmitters/receivers. For example, I have issues with my TouchPad occassionally hanging on my router but my Pre 3 has no issues. I have a Belkin 11n wireless card that refuses to speak to an 11n TP-Link router but will at 11g. I’ve even had two Buffalo products that appeared to connect ok at 11g, but I couldn’t get 2 Mb/s out of them under any circumstances.
    Frankly wifi is still akin to magic and only works if you get the exact incantations right. It’s probably all to do with chipsets and stuff like that.

  7. From Mike at 10:27 pm on January 3, 2012

    Maybe you should do a little more research before pinning all the blame on Android. Wireless connectivity issues are nothing new.

    Google search: iphone crashes my router
    157,000,000 results

    Google search: windows crashes my router
    336,000,000 results

    Google search: ubuntu crashes my wifi network
    81,600,000 results

    Google search: Mac OS X crashes my router
    50,900,000 results

  8. From Troy at 11:07 pm on January 3, 2012

    It’s your router.

    My Android works perfectly with NetGear Router WNDR3700.

    Stay away from Apple! You’ll have few problems.

  9. From Bill at 11:48 pm on January 3, 2012

    Give Apple three more years and they will turn into just another “Marginal Tech” company that charges too much money for their inferior and overpriced products. Don’t drink the Apple
    Kool-Aid, doing so is a form of brainwashing. The magic man Steve Jobs is gone, and nobody at Apple will ever have his vision or flair for design, he was one of a kind.

  10. From Lori at 1:06 pm on January 4, 2012

    I use my HTC Incredible and my Motorola Xoom on my home and work networks all the time and haven’t had any problems with the router. I have a Linksys router, though I don’t recall the exact model.

  11. From Ian D. Miller at 7:45 pm on January 4, 2012

    Totally had this issue with the Archos 101 tablet I just bought from Woot (it runs Android 2.2.1). I have a FON router that runs b/g/n. My girlfriend, roommate and I all have Android phones and have no problem using the WiFi. But as soon as I try to browse the web with the Archos, the router stops working. I switched the router to only use g and now everything is happy…friggin’ weird, eh? All the trolls bashing Apple routers need to settle down. I’m a much bigger fan of Android than Apple, but in this case, I don’t think the router should be blamed.

  12. From ET1212 at 10:14 pm on January 7, 2012

    Thank you for the insightful documentation of the problem (and fair evaluation of the possible causes). I’d like to state my experience and comment on a few “expert comments” here.

    My workhorse D-Link Dir-655, which gave me no problem whatsoever, began to have rare hiccups after I started using an Asus tablet (transformer TF-101 – which is based on Android 3.2 or 3.3 I am not sure.) but I never gave it much thoughts… Until I began to use HTC Sensation (Android 2.3 ?? I am not sure) — the internet connection would stop after a few hours while wireless transmission shows full strength. Initially it would fix itself after a few minutes but eventually it would remain down unless I manually restart the Dir-655. I finally realized that the only variable is the Android connection so I stopped wifi links on the transformer as well as the HTC smartphone. Then, of course, the Dir-655 stopped having the internet connection problem…

    However, although I have unlimited data plan and the 3G+ connection works well, the battery can barely last 6 hours after I stopped the wireless connection on the HTC…

    I thought about upgrading the firmware on the d-link but, since I cannot bear the thought of losing internet connection even briefly (in case I messed up and stoned the d-link), I bought a cheap Edimax BR-6478n (I guess this is a model available in Taiwan or Asia only) as a backup. You know what? 20 hours after I plugged in the Edimax and I have not had an internet connection issue and the HTC is sucking a lot less battery juice now. I may just stick with this Edimax router unless it proves to be problematic down the road.

    I have to chuckle at a few of the comments above. I know there is a problem but I cannot pinpoint the cause. It simply not possible to isolate the real cause until someone complies enough information (on the router model, firm ware version, wireless set up / android device, firm ware etc) and conducts more research based on this information.

    My thoughts and rants?

    1. After M$ set a bad example (in the late 70′ and early 80′s my pc must be rebooted at least once sometimes many times a day) and got people used to using beta software (and in the dark because M$ never publicly admitting to any problem), the tech companies all learned that they can get away from inferior quality controls (hey, just pointing figures at other software/hardware vendors). The results, a lot of flawed products are floating around and countless hours of productivity are wasted on debugging stupid problems…… Even the once super reliable home appliances would give me problems. Even my TV (not the set-top boxes which reboot at will) would reboot sometimes. What can I do?

    2. Internet is the greatest “invention” (which is of course not invented by Al Gore) after peanut butter, but there are so many people shooting inaccurate comments without thinking… Sigh.
    3. Someone should do something about the energy sucking of 3G/4G. I think I was pretty smart buying 2G phones for my aging parents, their phones last at least a week before requiring a charge.

  13. From nate at 10:37 am on January 11, 2012

    My girlfriend’s HTC desire has always crashed our router, requiring a reset of the router and a disabling of the HTC’s wifi. Never have issues with my home network otherwise. I just got a galaxy nexus (jumped off the iphone ship) and started having the same router issues with wifi enabled on my phone. Again, with my phone’s wifi disabled = No router/network issues, all laptops and peripherals connected without problems. This has been replicated many times. I have read multiple stories online of those with similar experiences. These stories indicate multiple router models, new firmware updates, multiple android OSs with multiple phone hardware. These experiences also include multiple router security settings (wpa, wep, and open networks, etc.) and speeds (G or N). I love android, but it is the common denominator. I have recently tried adding both phones to my router’s “dhcp reservation list”, and the network has not crashed yet (~1 hr so far). Unfortunately I do not have access to this option with other routers (ie. work, friend’s, etc.) and have never needed to do this with my iphone. Google forum’s still have admin’s denying the issue, doing everything to blame the user or router. Anyways, just wanted to share…