I set up a second Wi-Fi AP in our house, because the signal from the first one doesn’t reach my bedroom, and my Nexus S phone and the new Nexus 7 tablet need internet to make me happy. This was fraught with problems.

My AP is a disused 2wire HG27-1HG-B DSL router from the time I had AT&T internet at my old place. I plug it into the wall, disable DHCP and DNS to make it behave as a bridge and play nice with our existing network router. My netbook gets good quality internet from it. I toy with the idea of using the same SSID and password for both APs, and letting devices switch between them based on signal strength. That works for the netbook.

Alas, not so for the Android devices: They pair with the extremely weak signal of the first AP downstairs and refuse to talk to the 2wire AP at all. So for testing, I swap a letter to give it a slightly different name, and now I see that the phone and tablet are endlessly trying to connect, getting a connection for a fraction of a second, then starting over.

Now, this is very odd, because in my old home, the phone has been talking to this AP all the time, when it was still my DSL router for AT&T. I switch to WEP encryption, and suddenly, the androids can connect! We can’t have WEP encryption, though, so something is rotten and I need to find out what it is. I switch back to WPA2-PSK, and the old problem comes back. Then I decide to use the same SSID and password that I used at my old apartment, and voila, the androids connect with WPA2-PSK. What is this sorcery? Why is the name or passphrase of my SSID a factor in this at all?

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Current situation is that we have two SSIDs in our house, and my mobile devices know both of them, but I have to manually switch to the strongest one based on which floor of the house I am on. This is by no means ideal, I tell you. I may have to convince my roommate that we must use a persian poem as the shared SSID for our network.

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