Ben Dodson

Freelance iOS, macOS, Apple Watch, and Apple TV Developer

Issues with Airport Express, Airport Extreme, and OS X Yosemite

I finally fixed a problem today that has been plaguing me for the past couple of weeks. For some reason, my MacBook Pro was getting a pitiful internet speed (around 1Mbps on an 80Mbps connection). Sometimes restarting my Airport Extreme router would fix the problem but it would slow down to a crawl a few minutes later. If I moved downstairs (near the router), then suddenly the speed would be much more acceptable.

After spending some time looking at my wireless network settings, I realised I was connecting to an 802.11n network. This is odd as I have a new 802.11ac Airport Extreme. It turns out the culprit was an Airport Express I put in my bedroom which I use purely for Airplay to a set of speakers. It is one of the newer models that supports 802.11n and it was joined to, but not extending, my wireless network from the Airport Extreme. For some reason, and I’m fairly sure it is a change in Yosemite, my MacBook was connecting to that Airport Express via the 802.11n despite the fact it wasn’t an extended network and it was obviously slower than the 802.11ac router which is only slightly further away. This slashed my connection speed by roughly 90% as everything was routed through the bridged connection.

The solution I’ve put in place was to give the 5GHz network a different name on my Airport Extreme. I’ve configured all of my Airport Express cards and Apple TVs to connect to the 2.4GHz network and all my regular devices connect to the 5GHz. There is now no danger of my MacBook accidentally connecting to an extended network but AirPlay still works like a dream.

If you notice you’ve got a slower connection since upgrading to Yosemite, it might be worth taking a look if any AirPlay devices are to blame!

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