WTF has my Wi-Fi network gone?

WLAN standard reaching its limits?

So what's the problem? What's causing me to (metaphorically speaking) tear out my hair trying to figure out what's going on, and making my other half loudly complain (literally) that she has a crucial deadline to meet and can't connect to send email?

devolo dlan 200 avdesk powerline ethernet adaptor

The weight of similar stories posted online suggests my circumstances are in no way uncommon. So what do we have here? Is the Wi-Fi standard simply incapable of coping with a certain density of access points at a given location? Is there an issue with the longevity of the hardware? Are pre-802.11n products indeed hindering the ability for older 802.11b and 802.11g hardware from connecting correctly?

Whatever the problem, users have a case the Wi-Fi vendors and standards-setters must answer. We're clearly running up to the limits of the technology, not in terms of data throughput speeds, but how many WLANs can co-exist and still operate efficiently. If they don't they're in serious danger of badly disappointing consumers who've either splashed out on new wireless hardware or been led to believe it's the best thing since sliced bread by service providers.

I'm in Wi-Fi range of more than eight houses and apartments, and if the adoption of domestic WLANs continues at the current rate, no one's going to be able to connect soon. Wi-Fi has gone beyond early adopters like me as ISPs and TV services have pitched wireless networking to consumers, all on the assumption that the user will be the only one with a WLAN in the vicinity.

It's only going to get worse, as more folk are encouraged to use wireless technology to pump HD content around the home.

Maybe I should ditch all this wireless kit and start plugging in powerline Ethernet adaptors - like the ones offered by Netgear and Devolo - around my home. I lose the freedom of movement wireless provides, but at least I'll be sure of a connection.

Hardware Headaches of your own? Then let us know

Related reviews

Netgear HDX101 200Mbps powerline Ethernet adaptor
Devolo dLAN 200 AVdesk HomePlug AV network adaptor
Novatel Merlin XU870 ExpressCard 34 'super 3G' datacard
Vodafone Mobile Connect 'super 3G' USB modem

Sponsored: 10 ways wire data helps conquer IT complexity