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January 31, 2008

Wii Wireless Woes and Fix

Problems have been plaguing my Wii to the point of being useless.

Symptoms include: intermittent connectivity; no connectivity; random error codes ranging from unable to connect to your router to you have no internet connection; all while being able to easily see the wireless access point and connect to it.

It all started when I upgraded my wireless access point to a Linksys WRT54GS router. My old D-Link would spontaneously reboot itself when more than one wireless device was connected and I was using processor intensive WPA wireless encryption. Now that we have two laptops, a Wii, and a few other devices that can use WPA2 – it seemed the thing to use.

I set the WRT54GS to use WPA2 wireless encryption, changed the admin password, and changed the name of the SSID.

All the laptops connected fine. My smartphone connected fine. The Wii could see the AP (with a green, three bar signal icon) and displayed the proper encryption method… but would intermittently fail connection tests. If it passed a test, it would fail almost every time I launched an online channel.

After further troubleshooting I reset the wireless to:

G only. No change.
B only. No change.
Mixed. No change.

Tried every channel from 1 – 12, no difference. All the while my two laptops with Intel 802.11 a/b/g wireless are working flawlessly.

So I powered up an old 802.11b access point that only has WEP, and I left that disabled. The Wii connected fine, test passed, and I could browse with the internet channel. I wasn’t going to leave an open AP on in my neighborhood.

So now I’ve confirmed something is amiss with the Wii.

Solution:

I took my 12 character long alphanumeric password and shortened it to 8 characters. Ding! WPA2 and WPA will work just fine.

I have yet to test > 12 or < 8 character passwords, but right now I'm comfortable with WPA2 rotating the encryption keys every 3600 seconds with an 8 character non-dictionary word password. If you're having the same problem, try an 8 character password using random letters and numbers. Even though it'll be shorter than I'm usually comfortable using, making it hard to guess will keep you safe.

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