Wi-fi Warnings

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Wi-fi Warnings: a reader asks…

I have Verizon internet service at my house. I’m starting to see warnings on my iPhone and iPad that the network is unsafe. My Verizon router is probably 7-8 years old? Is it time to get a new one? My desktop PC is also connected wirelessly, but it isn’t warning me. I also notice that the wireless connection drops out a few times a day. I’ve started having to turn the router off and back on every day to keep it working.

Most likely you are seeing warnings because your older Wi-Fi network is using Wireless Encryption Protocol (WEP) for securing the wireless network. This protocol actually is unsafe these days, because it’s so easy to break. Most modern Wi-Fi routers use the WPA or WPA2 encryption protocols which are much stronger and very difficult to break.

So if your router uses WEP, yes it’s time to upgrade to a new router. And if you are having to reboot the router every day and are experiencing Wi-Fi connectivity issues often, it’s also an indicator that the router may be failing. You can contact Verizon and order a new router either by calling them, or sometimes you can even order a new router over your television – here’s how:

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  1. turn on your TV and Verizon FIOS box, then press the Guide button on your remote
  2. scroll through the channels till you see a channel entry for “Upgrade your Router” – it’ll be differently colored than other guide entries (usually red)
  3. press the OK button to select that ‘channel’ and follow the on-screen instructions. Your router should be delivered to your home in a week or less.

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You don’t need any special skill to switch out the routers, the new router will come with instructions. Basically, you place the new router next to the old one, and one-by-one, move all the cables from one to the other. Usually that means one coax cable that screws into the coaxial port, and one or more ethernet cables. If your old router has an ethernet cable connected to the ‘WAN’ port, be sure to move that cable to the WAN port on the new router. Lastly, unplug the old router and then use the new power brick that came with the new router to power up the new router. The initialization process should be completely automatic and may take up to 15 minutes to complete.

Sometimes your new router may not connect to the Verizon network correctly when initializing. If this happens, you should unplug the router, wait 30 seconds and try again. If you still can’t get a connection, you may have to call Verizon and get a service technician to authorize the router to your account. They can do this remotely. If even that fails, then you may have to schedule a Verizon technician to come out to your house to fix the connection – it may be that the signal coming into your router isn’t strong enough for a good connection on the new router, and the technician may have to boost the signal. They may do this by connecting a booster box to your network interface (usually in the basement or garage).

But most often, the automatic initialization process goes smoothly and your new Wi-Fi network will be up and running in just a few minutes. At that point, you’ll need to connect your iPhone, iPad and computer to the new network (new router, new network). There will be a sticker on the new router that gives you the SSID (network name) and WPA2 passcode. You only have to connect each device once to the new router and they’ll remember that connection.

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