Question Wi-Fi intermittently disconnecting devices ?

Jun 5, 2023

Started having issues with my Wi-Fi network two weeks ago or so around the time of the botched ASUS firmware upgrade. First I thought it must be related, maybe it was, but the issue has yet to be resolved.

Let me try and explain what happened:

Router: Asus AX-86U
I have many devices connected (LED lights, Google Home, phones, tablet, computers) to the Wi-Fi, but no new devices had been added in months. From one day to another, some devices failed to connect to the 2.4 and 5.0 networks. When trying to connect to either Wi-Fi using my iPad, I got an "Incorrect password" error message. I hadn't changed the password and I had not made any changes at all to the network for months. I also don't think auto-update of firmware was turned on.

I then noticed that more devices started having connectivity issues. My laptops could no longer connect to the 5.0 GHz network, but the always-on devices like my HTPC remained connected to the 5.0 GHz network. Connecting to the 2.4 GHz also had issues - sometimes I couldn't connect, but the internet connection dropped from time to time.

I then tested the following:
  • Firmware upgrade - didn't work
  • Reset (multiple times) - didn't work
  • Installed Merlin - didn't work
  • Firmware restoration as per - didn't work
  • Back to Asus firmware and a firmware downgrade - didn't work
Whenever I rebooted my laptops, they usually connected to the 2.4 GHz network immediately, but the internet connection dropped after ~30 seconds and I then get kicked off the network. This is ongoing for a couple of minutes until I finally remain connected to the Wi-Fi and have a solid internet connection with no drops. Other devices such as iPhone, Apple/Samsung tablets, seem to remain connected to the Wi-Fi but get disconnected for 10-60 seconds a couple of times every hour.

So maybe it's an issue with the device on the network? I thought so, but even when I reset the router and connect to the default Asus network to set up the router, I kept having these intermittent connection issues for the first couple of minutes after having connected to the network for the first time. Then after a couple of minutes, I am able to stay connected long enough to set up the router.

After having reset the router and set up the SSIDs again, I kept having major issues on my laptops. I then noticed that if I turned on guest network and connected to that SSID instead, the connection is much more stable though still intermittent connection issues, especially when re-connecting to the Wi-Fi after a reboot/sleep.

I then thought maybe my router is broken, so I ordered an Asus AX-56U.

Connecting to the default network worked instantly - I wasn't kicked out and I was able to set up the router with same SSID as my old networks. I thought everything worked as it should, went to sleep, but the day after I noticed that devices still kept getting disconnected. I also purchased a new laptop (not because of this issue, just needed a new one) and I am having the exact same issue so it's not any hardware/driver issues specific to my devices that try to connect.

So what could the issue be? Here is what I have been thinking:
  • Certain device causing interference? However, I haven't added any new devices. Also, even when I've reset the router, I've had issues connecting to the default Wi-Fi network that no other devices connect to other than my laptop. If it's a certain device messing with the entire network, then why am I having issues connecting to the default network?
  • Seeing as I've used two routers - it does not seem to be the router that is malfunctioning. I've also tried several different firmware versions/resets/restorations.
  • If it's issues with the ISP, then why am I having issues connecting to the actual Wi-Fi? Even if my internet connection is down due to ISP issues, I should still be able to connect to my Wi-Fi networks?
I am completely clueless how to proceed. Any ideas what could be the cause of this?

Many thanks in advance,

It is likely interference but just because "you" haven't added any devices all your neighbors might have. Your router could have selected different radio channels as you have been messing with it. The auto mode is kinda stupid it just looks to see how many other routers are using the same channels. This though means very little since it is more the number of active client device which can't be easily detected. You could have a router with a couple device doing a lot of transfers and 10 other routers that are idle on a different channel and your router will pick to overlap the first router.

You can test this to some extent by using a pc very close to the router. Kinda defeats the purpose of wifi but in general you should not get interference strong enough to drop you from the router when you are right next to it.

Since you have used a different router that would rules out a hardware issue. Firmware on routers in kinda strange how it works.
The wifi radio is actually a small cpu and the main router just load a binary file that many router makers get from the wifi chipset vendors. It seldom changes. Most router firmware updates are related to other feature in the router that excute on the router cpu. The wifi function is completely contained in the wifi chipset....mostly to avoid issue of having to recertify the device with the fcc everytime changes are made.

Not sure there is little solutions for this. Try to manually set the radio channels. Maybe force the channel with to 20mhz which will cut the top speed but tend to improve stability. You could also try wifi6e since there is lots and lots of bandwidth on the 6g radio. It is not very used yet but that is because like you all your nieghbrs have to upgrade both the router and the end devices to use it.