Understanding wireless networking on the iPad

How to connect to a wireless network on the iPad and troubleshoot problems

media-1369635914804.png

The iPad is ultimately a device that allows you to consume content in an easy and portable manner. As there is no better location for consumable content than the Internet, being able to connect to a Wi-Fi network so you can access the Internet is a necessity.

This guide will walk you through all of the steps required to connect to a Wi-Fi network using your iPad. It also looks at personal hotspots using a smartphone or your 3G/4G iPad and troubleshooting connection issues.

Turning on the WiFi or wireless network

Turning on the WiFi or wireless network

From the Settings app, make sure that WiFi is turned ON.
Turn it OFF if you want to connect to your 3G network and you are within range of your wireless networks.
Use Airplane mode for a quick way of disconnecting wireless andf Bluetooth connectivity.

Selecting a wireless network

Selecting a wireless network

When you reach this screen, the iPad will start searching for Wi-Fi networks that are in range and that are broadcasting their names. (A network's name is known as an SSID. The networks shown here are broadcasting their names so you can find them to connect to).

As the iPad discovers available networks it will list them under the Choose a Network...label.

Please note that it may take some time for the iPad to see all of the available networks, so please be patient while it searches. You can tell that it is searching as there will be an animated symbol next to the Choose a Network...label while it is searching. If it does not find anything, it will pause for about a minute and then attempt to search again. **This process also uses your battery.

When you see the Wi-Fi network that you would like to connect to, simply tap on it to attempt to join it. If it has a lock next to the name, then it will require you to enter a wireless encryption password in order to connect to it.


Ask to Join Networks. If you leave this on, the iPad will continually search for new networks and inform you if any are nearby.

Joining a wireless network

Joining a wireless network

Once you Tap on a network name, it will try to connect to it. If the network is using encryption, you will see a padlock next to its name If the network is using wireless encryption, though, you will be presented with a screen asking you to enter the wireless encryption password.

The joined network has a checkmark next to it.

Remember: to join an encrypted wireless network, you need to know the network name (its SSID) and the password.

Entering a password to join an encrypted network

Entering a password to join an encrypted network

In the password field, enter the wireless encryption password that is required to join this network, then tap Join.

If this is your network, the password was originally set on your wireless router, and if you do not remember this password anymore, you can logon to the router and change the password to a new one. Please note that if you change the password on the router, then any other devices that connect to this device wirelessly will also need to have their settings changed to use the new password.

If you are using a mobile broadband wireless device fromn an ISP like Telstra or Optus, the device will come with a network name (SSID) and a password. You can change these default settings. Look at the packaging instructions that came with the device.

Connected to a wireless network

Connected to a wireless network

How do you know when you are connected?
1. The upper left corner of the iPad should display the wireless symbol.
2. The selected network should display a checkmark.
3. For a final check, try to connect a web page - like google.com.

Forget a network

Forget a network

The iPad will always remember a network and its settings. For example, if you are visting a friend and join their network, the next time you visit that friend, the iPad will automatically connect to that network.

If you don't want that to happen, Forget the network.

Tapping Manage this network will take you into the browser to change your router settings.

DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) is the process which the router uses to allocate and manage the IP addresses of your wireless devices in your network. Here, you can identify the specific identity of this device. Good for troubleshooting.

How to connect to a network that is not broadcasting its name (SSID)

How to connect to a network that is not broadcasting its name (SSID)

There are many networks that do not advertise their network name, or SSID, for extra security. Due to this, the only way for an iPad to connect to these types of networks is to manually enter the network information that is required to make a connection. This section will explain how to manually connect your iPad to a wireless network.

Select Other...

Enter the name of the Network you want to connect to

Enter the name of the Network you want to connect to

In the Name field, enter the network name or SSID. Get the name of the netaork from the router settings or ask - if you're at a friend's house and want to join their network as a guest.

Tap Security and you will be a the screen shown in the next step.

Select security encryption

Select security encryption

At this screen you need to select the wireless encryption that the network you wish to connect to is using. It is important that you select the correct encryption type, as if you do not, you will not be able to connect to the wireless network. After selecting the encryption type, tap on the Other Network button.

Enter the password

Enter the password

Enter the password and tap Join.
If all is well, the joined network will be listed and a checkmark next to it.

Connecting to a wireless hotspot

Connecting to a wireless hotspot

A mobile hotspot is a portable device that connects to a cellular 3G or 4G network and then creates a personal Wi-Fi network, allowing you to access the Internet on the go. With a hotspot-ready device, you can surf the Internet, stream videos, and download music and games conveniently to your iPad. And you can share Internet connectivity with multiple Wi-Fi enabled devices. You may need to find a public wi-fi hotspot if you don't have a 3G iPad and you are not inside your wireless network.

If you have a smart phone, you can use it as a portable Wi-Fi hotspot. Smartphones have built-in hotspot capabilities--also known as tethering--which enables you to turn on your personal Wi-Fi coverage wherever your smartphone has 3G or 4G coverage. And you'll be able to use apps, check e-mail, send text messages, and browse the web on your smartphone while sharing its 3G or 4G connectivity with other devices.

Remember that data used with a Wi-Fi hotspot still counts as data used from your plan. In other words, if you have a limited data plan for your phone, keep track of how many bytes you're using; whether it's on your phone or via a hotspot, it all comes out of the same pot -- and you don't want to hit your monthly cap too soon.

media-1369552771192.png

When you turn on the mobile hotspot on your phone, it will appear as a wireless network on your iPad.

Go back to Settings, WiFi. Make sure that Ask to Join Networks is ON. Tap the network to select it.

Using your iPad as a Wireless hotspot - 3G/4G models

Using your iPad as a Wireless hotspot - 3G/4G models

If you have a 3G /4G iPad, you can use it to share your internet with other devices. Eg a laptop that has no internet connectivity. As with the smartphone, this will use data from your plan with the ISP and it does use more battery. However if the internet is required, it can be done and it works seamlessly. You can share your internet with up to 5 devices.

The Personal Hotspot is located in the Settings. Turn it ON.

The name of the hotspot will default to whatever ther name of your iPad is. To check or change this, go to Settings, General, About.

The password you will require for the hotspot is also provided here.

media-1369605458839.png

The hotspot is available from the list of wireless networks on my laptop. It is an encrypted network and is a hotspot.
Note that the traditional WiFi symbol has been replaced by the hotspot symbol.

Troubleshooting WiFi on your iPad

When using a Wi-Fi network with your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, you may occasionally encounter the following issues:

  • Unable to locate a Wi-Fi network
  • Unable to join a nearby Wi-Fi network
  • Connected to Wi-Fi network, but unable to access the Internet
  • Weak or low Wi-Fi signal strength

Here are some suggested solutions:

What to do if your iPad can't access a visible network:

The first step is to make sure that the wireless connection does not require a password. You can determine this by seeing if there is a lock symbol next to the wireless network name. If there is, then make sure you know the correct password to the network before attempting to join it. If that still does not resolve your issue, try moving closer to the wireless router and seeing if you are able to connect then.

What can you do if you cannot access a network that is not broadcasting its network name or SSID:

What can you do if you cannot access a network that is not broadcasting its network name or SSID:

Diagnosing connections to Wi-Fi networks that are not broadcasting their name or SSID can be difficult. The first suggestion, if the wireless router is under your control, is to allow the router to broadcast the name. If you can then connect, then you may have entered the name incorrectly, selected the wrong wireless encryption type, or entered the wrong wireless encryption password. You should then confirm these settings by looking at the configuration of the router, and if necessary, changing those settings to new ones. Then try connecting again.

This example is from the Linksys router. The SSID name has been disabled. This means it won't broadcast its name to any device looking for a wireless network. Your iPad would need to know the SSID, password and encryption type in order to connect to this wireless network.

What can you do if you cannot access the Internet when connected to a wireless network?

What can you do if you cannot access the Internet when connected to a wireless network?

If it shows that you are connected to a network, but you still cannot access the network, you should first make sure that your Internet connection is actually working. Test the connection from another computer and device to confirm that it is working.

1. If it is working, go into the Wi-Fi settings for this particular connection on the iPad and under the DHCP settings, make sure that you have an assigned IP Address, Subnet Mask, Router, and DNS.

2. If you do not have these fields populated, then tap on the Renew Lease button, and then tap on the Renew button when it asks if you wish to continue. This will make the iPad request new connection settings. Once that is done, if you now have settings in the DHCP fields, try connecting to the Internet again.

If this still does not work, then you may want to confirm that you do not need to enter a static networking configuration into the iPad. To determine this, you should ask the owner or administrator of the wireless router.

3. Last, but not least, if the iPad shows its connected, but cannot access the internet, it could be because you entered the wrong wireless encryption password or it was changed after you initially created the Wi-Fi profile. To test this, simply Forget the network profile and try recreating it and entering the password again.

How to fix slow iPad Wi-Fi speeds or low quality wireless connections

How to fix slow iPad Wi-Fi speeds or low quality wireless connections

To determine the quality of your Wi-Fi connection, you can look in the upper left-hand corner of the device. The three quality levels are shown from best to worst as, with the lower the level being the worst connection speed.


You can first try and use the iPad closer to the wireless router to increase your connection quality or another option is to purchase a wireless extender that can extend the range of your wireless device so it is strong throughout your entire house. This is an example of an extender: the NETGEAR WN3000RP Universal WiFi Range Extender. When you add an extender to your wireless network, it will increase the range of the network.

For a seamless wireless experience, get the Apple Airport Extreme base station router and the Airport Express as the extender.

Use WPA or WPA2 wireless security

Use WPA or WPA2 wireless security

Check the wireless security option of your Wi-Fi router. In most cases, you use a browser to connect to your router.

If WEP is being used, try using WPA or WPA2.

Some Wi-Fi routers using WEP wireless security may cause intermittent disconnects to the iPad which requires re-typing a password. Using WPA or WPA2 wireless security on your network will correct this issue.