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What can we do to connect our wireless router to our wireless client?

In Windows XP, we sometimes get the message "No wireless connection found in range" even if we are sitting next to our Westell Versalink Gateway wireless router. We tried changing the channel and eliminating sources of electromagnetic or radio interference, but the problem did not go away. What else can we try to fix this problem?

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When you experience persistent inability to connect to or "see" a wireless router from your wireless client, common problems include mismatch in wireless capabilities (for example, an 802.11b client trying to find an 802.11g router operating in g-only mode), a router configured to not broadcast its Service Set Identifier (SSID), or a hardware/software failure in either the router or client. These problems can be eliminated by connecting the client to a different router (like a public hotspot) and connecting the router to a different client (like a friend's laptop). If NO clients can connect to the router, try resetting the router's configuration to factory default (including SSID broadcasting). If that does not help, try reinstalling the router's firmware. If some clients connect but others cannot, look for differences between those devices and reconfigure/upgrade the failed client to match the rest.

If you experience transient connection dropouts, where the client usually connects to the wireless router but occasionally loses that connection and then cannot "see" the router, the problem may be intermittent interference or device failure. You note that you have already changed channels and eliminated common sources of interference, like nearby electronic devices, cordless phones, Bluetooth headsets, microwave ovens, etc. Those are great first steps. To confirm that interference is definitely not your problem, carry the router and client to a completely different location and see if the problem disappears. The client won't be able to reach the Internet, but you can run a continuous ping between the client and router (ping -t to see whether the wireless connection remains stable over time in another location.

If you still experience transient connection dropouts in another location, then it's time to suspect buggy hardware or software. In your case, a Google search turns up frequent complaints about the Westell Versalink 327W and connectivity problems. You did not mention the model of your router, but this makes me suspicious. I usually recommend reinstalling the router's firmware (making sure to upgrade to the latest available firmware) and starting again with a factory-fresh configuration. But Google hits on this topic suggest that older hardware versions are well-known to be faulty, so you may need to replace your router with a newer version, or another model. Contact your DSL provider to report the problem and request a replacement.

This was first published in March 2007

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