A new Apple iOS Wi-Fi problem has popped up while others remain unfixed

A new Apple iOS Wi-Fi problem has popped up while others remain unfixed

Summary: A big new Apple iPhone and iPad Wi-Fi/cellular data problem has appeared while other iOS 6 Wi-Fi problems continue to drag on.

Verizon iPhone 5 users have a fix for when their phone uses cellular instead of Wi-Fi, other vendors' customers aren't so lucky.

Some Apple iPhone and iPad users are facing a major new problem with Wi-Fi/cellular data use while others are still dealing with earlier, unresolved iOS 6 Wi-Fi problems.

The latest annoyance is a real pain-in-the-rump. It turns out that while some of you have been watching videos, playing a game, whatever, on what you thought was a Wi-Fi network, you were actually running up your giant 3G data bill. Apple hasn't commented on this, but on September 30th, Apple quietly released a bug fix for the problem for its Verizon customers.

In it, Apple states. "This carrier settings update resolves an issue in which, under certain circumstances, iPhone 5 may use Verizon cellular data while the phone is connected to a Wi-Fi network." Users are loudly saying that is not just a problem with iPhone 5 or Verizon. Instead, they blame iOS 6.

One Australian user wrote, "This is not just an iPhone 5 issue. I have a iPhone 4S model MD241X with Carrier voda AU 13.1. I have wifi on all the time but managed to use over 20gb in 1 week." He's not the only one. The Apple support discussion forums are filled with notes such as: "AT&T iPhone 5 activated on Saturday. I was on home WiFi and began getting data usage alerts from AT&T after about 1 hour. I have never exceeded my data plan. I called AT&T and they had no explanation other than my WiFi might be broken. After being at work all day on their WiFi, I came to discover I had exceeded my allotment and was 153MB into overage in one day."

To see if you have this problem, before an outlandish bill arrives, check Settings > General > Usage and look for excessive cellular data usage. If you see trouble, the quick and dirty way to avoid is to simply turn off your 3G data plan except when you absolutely need it. You do this by going Settings > General > Cellular > and turning Cellular Data off.

Of course, this isn't ideal, but then neither is paying cellular data outage fees of hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Hopefully, Apple will soon address this problem as it already has with its Verizon users.

In the meantime, the problem that iPhone 4S and iPad 3 with their A5 chipsets and iOS 6 had with joining networks has been narrowed down. Research by Christian Rank found that the problem stemmed from a "different interpretation of [the 802.11n] standards: At least the iPhone 4S with iOS 6 sends a parameter "Extended Capabilities" in its association request to the AP. This "Extended Capabilities" parameter has a length of 4. Now, the "IEEE Std 802.11n-2009" states that this parameter should have only 3 as valid length. Contrary to that, the current "IEEE Std 802.11-2012" defines the valid length between 3 and 8. It seems that our HP/H3C equipment treats "Extended Capabilities" parameter length == 4 as fatal error and rejects the association (instead of just ignoring this parameter). From the formal point of view, Apple's implementation is correct, and HP should correct its firmware. We've got in touch with HP about this issue and are now awaiting their response. Nevertheless, I hope that Apple updates iOS 6 that no ‘Extended Capabilities' parameter is sent during association, since its purely redundant."

Other Wi-Fi APs and routers seem to make this check as well with similar disastrous results for iOS 6 devices. So, if you're having trouble with joining a Wi-Fi network, check to see if there's a new firmware update for your router or access point (AP). You could also encourage Apple to drop sending the ‘Extended Capabilities' during authentication since this parameter really isn't used for anything in iOS or by most APs or routers.

Other Wi-Fi problems are still with us. For example, I'm still seeing reports from iOS 6 users having trouble connecting with APs using WPA2 AES (Wi-Fi Protected Access II/ Advanced Encryption Standard) security. Curiously, Apple recommends WPA2 AES for Wi-Fi security, but WPA2 TKIP (Temporal Key Integrity Protocol) is the security standard that's actually  more likely to work with iOS 6-equipped iPhones, iPads, and iPods.

Many iOS 6 users are also still stuck with the problem of having their Wi-Fi "grayed out and disabled." Some people have suggested that if you're seeing this error it's because "your hardware is defective," but others point out that their iToys worked perfectly until they "upgraded" to iOS 6. Some users have suggested that this problem can be traced to a "a firmware to OS (Driver) compatibility issue," but the mystery, and many semi-dead iOS 6 devices, remain.

It seems to me that  Apple CEO Tim Cook has more to apologize for in iOS 6 than just Apple Maps. While not as wide-spread as the Maps problem, far too many Apple users are having serious Wi-Fi problems. 

Related Stories:

Topics: iPhone, Apple, Broadband, iPad, Mobile OS, Mobility, Networking, Wi-Fi

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  • But part of the iCulture is being happy to overpay for everything.

    Right down to the adaptors and cases. A huge cell data bill should make itards ecstatic. Seriously though let's see if apple get the providers to eat this, volunteers to itself, or throws their users under the bus. We're in a post-jobs era now arent we timmy?
    Johnny Vegas
    • Funny, but Mr. Vegas...

      Guess what? Great news, you don't have to buy anything from Apple. If you had or have a bad experience... stop complaining and don't pay them a dime. At&t has a CEO, who says the biggest regret is not being able to screw the grandfathered data users from 4 years ago. He might try to actually get dirty with the mercurial behavior of their customer service centers...Philly (0% solution's) vs. KY (75%). That should upset you...the head of a big company complaining about not earning more. They are not losing anything...thanks to a gift from the iTards a few years back.

      I am going to be so bold as to say most people like to get good service. If it is something expensive...even more. I fired MS and Adobe because their passion for non-performance, arrogance, and inability to answer much less solve an issue without getting permission and 10 people involved was frustrating too me. You might like it.

      It was my choice to pay more to actually get help.

      I have Windows 8 running in Boot-camp. Let's see how that rolls out. MS should have their hands full! For example, MS XBOX slammed sales of 80,000 Kinnect units during Black Friday last year. They were surprised they had service issues. Adobe still has the same # of employees as it did 5 years ago but many new complex programs.

      It is a tough manpower vs. sales issue. These Apple problems are real. Apple is painful to use because I think they fell in love with themselves and released too much. I have had more problems in 6 months than the last 3 years but the difference is instead hiding and not taking calls or following-up regarding service. They work more and pick up the phone. Also, they are nice.

      Service and Quality vs. Price. Tough economy. Agreed. So it is an issue that you get to decide what fits your own agenda. I am not an Apple Fan-boy...I just know when I had a serious issue... one company blew a 20 customer off and one got a customer just because of their service.

      They can throw me under the bus because they hold themselves and their employees accountable. They say things like "I am sorry." I don't think MS knows those words... When Windows 8 rolls....they will need something a lot bigger than a bus.. They should call it Windows 8 Titanic Edition. It sounds like they are rolling before completion...really smart.


      Kyle Conner
      • "Adobe still has the same # of employees as it did 5 years ago but many new

        Well that's bullsh!t, they just cut 600 heads, and 1500 a few months back. Do yourself a favor and stop talking.
      • iTard: You're going to need Google Maps

        for your head to find it's way out of your ass.

        Too bad you're on iOS 6 now.
      • You are completely full of it

        Apple's standard operating procedure has been to deny any issues exist. It took more than 6 months and half a million user completes to admit that the Mac had a virus. It took over 6 months for them to admit their antennae issues with the iPhone 4. The malware protection provided in Lion was described as 'deceitful, and an outright misleading' by reviewers.

        You may have had a good experience with Apple, but their documented history is that they abuse and deceive their customers on a regular basis. It would appear that Tim Cook is trying to reverse that trend, but we will see how long he keeps it up.
        • An old saying you should learn to live by

          It's best to keep you mouth shut and let those around you think your an idiot than to open it and prove them right.
      • Spectacular Kyle

        well said..!! Send them away...!!
    • How True

      Most of the owners of the fruity-themed reassuringly expensive shiny toys should simply accept this as part of being "creative". If you have more money than sense, you need not complain when things don't go as expected.
    • Not quite...

      I've been a programmer for about 30+ years, now. I manage a half-dozen Linux boxes, I write in about 8 different programming languages, and I also love Apple stuff. I didn't always dig Apple, though. I used to read all the reviews of all of the various phones, the Palm Treos, the Symbian offerings, etc. and then try to find the best compromise of features for me. However, when the iPhone came around, I realized (not immediately, but with the 3G one) that it had all of the features I wanted, and all of those features worked seamlessly and smoothly. Granted, I could have loaded up a bunch of mods and tweaks into my Palm Treo, and then spent endless hours programming little hacks for it but, y'know what? As much as I like programming, I don't care to do it with my phone. That's a mission-critical device for me, and I just want the darned thing to work. And I've also concluded that Apple has a *lot* more manpower to devote to brainstorming, researching, programming, and testing different interfaces and features than I do. So, I'm willing to delegate to them the job of deciding what features make a great phone. And, yeah, I'm willing to pay them extra for doing that for me.

      Incidentally, if you had read the whole article, you'd have learned that the problem arises from the fact that the iPhones are using the 2012 802.11 standard, while older routers are using an outdated standard and are dropping the connection. I wouldn't call that Apple's fault nor Apple "throwing their users under the bus".

      Oh, and nice dig on the new connector in your first sentence. Only problem is, if you talk to people who've been using their iPhone 5 for a bit, they really dig the fact that it plugs in either way. As one columnist put it: "Take any mindless task that you have to do 25 times a day and just remove it from your life, forever.". My prediction, 5-10 years from now, we'll have these "agnostic" connectors on all kinds of devices. We'll be able to plug in our various devices in the dark or without looking because the market will come to expect this from devices... and the Apple's is starting that expectation, just like they led us to expect other niceties like: using your finger as a stylus, pinch-zooming, phones which are mostly screen and no keyboard, music players which automatically pause when you pull your headphone plug out, etc. Sure, it's not a major deal, but it's just going to be another thing that we don't need to bother with in the future.
      • Agnostic connectors? ROFL

        Ummm Most of the rest of the tech world has already gone to universal microUSB connectors that are interchangeable between various brands of devices. I only need one cable to charge my camera, phone, and Kindle. Again, the rest of the industry is ahead of Apple. They just haven't figured out how to monetize a universal connector.
        • its not that...

          Apple just wants its customers to rely solely on Apple products. That's all.
        • Being universal does not equal

          being ahead. You might prefer it but that doesn't automatically put those that use it ahead of Apple.
      • Apple's fault

        for putting little effort in BACKWARDS COMPATIBILITY!
        much like their effort to offer wifi printing in iOS, they DON'T CARE that you can't use existing wifi printers!
        When the iphone first came out, you couldn't use existing standard 3.5mm headsets with it, you had to use theirs or buy new iPhone compatible ones which are useless with every other phone or tablet.
        Apple are arrogant enough to ignore existing standards and create new requirements.
        How about a simple compatibility fallback so it would work with older routers?
        And they claim this is the "world's most advanced mobile OS"???
        • The funny thing is

          That the vast majority of people that complain about these things are small minded haters like yourself that are not affected what so ever. Those that actually own and use Apple devices feel sorry for those like you who have so little in there lives they have to spend so much time trolling Apple related thread while we sit back and enjoy our Apple gear.
    • we have

      enough money to spent.... poor people should not be buying a Mercedes...... no an iPhone....

      If you have money welcome to us.. where the quality (and the money) is....

      Rest please keep out.... this is not your league...
      • What if I have the money but dont like Mercedes?

        And what if I dont like Apple and buy a SGS3 or the top HTC phone... or eve the Lumia 920 when it comes out...

        So please stop with that bull.t that fanboys have the money and the others are poor people
        • You need to talk to the haters

          It's not Apple fans or fanboys that perpetuate the believe that Apple customers and all rich, it's the small minded haters that always make that claim. I do agree though that if you don't like Apple buy what you do like. Unlike the small minded crowd I think everyone should buy what works best for them not just what I like.
    • And the primary part of iHater culture

      is being misinformed idiots. Actually that applies to all haters, not just iHaters.
    • Johnny Vegas,

      You are an iHater!
  • I've noticed this myself

    One of the changes I've seen in my iPhone 4 is that Apple has changed how applications deal with captive portal protected WiFi APs. Before iOS 6, I would see that I was connected to WiFi but nothing would work. In the background, the WiFi AP was redirecting me to the log in page but only web browser enabled applications would actually present that log in page to me. The end result is that I would go to some Internet enabled application (like Twitter for example) and it would simply never refresh successfully. I would then bring up Safari and enter my credentials (or use 1Password which was handy since it would autofill my credentials) and everything would be good.

    iOS 6 handles this situation very differently. If there is any issue connecting to the Internet through WiFi, my experience has been that it silently falls back onto 3G. You will NOT see the WiFi icon at the top of the screen (even though opening settings clearly shows you are connected to WiFi) so if you look carefully, you will see that you are currently on 3G.

    I can see advantages to both approaches. Falling back to 3G if WiFi is failing allows you to be constantly connected. However, it isn't exactly the safest method for those with small data plans.

    It seems to me that the best solution would be to have a setting that toggled silent fallback to 3G. Those with big plans can leave it on, those with small plans can turn it off.