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Technology problem solved

I’m feeling quite smug as I have just solved a problem that has been bugging me for several months – and got there half an hour before receiving a call from my internet provider, Orange, suggesting the same solution.

I have noticed an increasing and annoying tendency for both my iPhone and iPad to lose their internet connection, either when they have been sleeping or when I move from one room to another. In the morning, for example, I tend to listen to the radio while showering, so I carry my phone from the bedroom to the bathroom – and promptly lose the connection, even though the bathroom is a metre away from my route (Livebox)! What is weird is that the icon which shows the internet connection does not disappear, just the signal. Sometimes I lose the connection after listening for ten minutes – by which time I’m usually in the shower and unable to do anything about this. Each time I have to toggle the wifi or airplane icons to switch the wifi off and then on again.

I have done all the usual remedial actions – switching everything off, rebooting devices, resetting my Livebox, even ‘forgetting’ all passwords to not only friends’ routers, but meh own Livebox.

A week ago I had a surprisingly pleasant session with an adviser from Orange – I did not have to wait too long and she (based in Tunisia) understood my problem and did the best to help me try various strategies. My devices seemed to be working OK, but she said she would ring back in a week to check the problem had been solved.

Of course it hadn’t; about an hour after our conversation I was back to toggling iPad and iPhone off and on again. Yesterday I decided to have another go at trying to come to grips with the problem. I surfed endless forums, in English and French, trying to work out whether it was an Orange or Apple problem (sic!). Eventually I came to the conclusion it was not only an Apple problem, but more specifically an iOS (the system used by iPhone and iPad) problem, as my Mac does not have the same connection issues.

Eureka. I found other people with similar problems and it became apparent they were related to the introduction of iOS 14, the latest version of the system, introduced last year. It seems that Apple – in one of a range of changes aimed at protecting the privacy of phone users – may have scored an own goal. They have introduced a new WIFI setting ‘Use Private Address’ and made the default that it is On – making it difficult for others to track your iPhone across networks.

It could be that it turns out to be an Orange problem – that they have not configured their Liveboxes (yet) to cope with Private Addresses.In the meantime I have turned this off for my home wifi, but I will certainly will keep it on when connecting to public networks.

What is strange is that not all iPhone/Orange users that I know have the same problem. But at least I can continue to listen to the radio while having my shower.

Update the next day

The problem has come back! I think I will wait till next week before tackling this again.

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