Friday, 25 November 2011

Connect iPhone to Wi-Fi with SSID Broadcast switched off

SSID stands for Service Set Identifier and in its most simple form is the “name” of a Wi-Fi or Wireless Network.

You will most likely be familiar with this when it comes to your personal home internet connection, as it doubles as the thing you search for when you want to connect a device to the internet.

On most routers and down to preference, the SSID can be switched off. This means it will not come up in the list when you attempt to search for it. This is mainly done to help keep the network private.

It doesnt mean that the Wi-Fi network has been switched off, its still there in the airwaves, you just have to manually look for it, and to do this you need to know a few fundamental things.

  • The name (normally case sensitive too!)
  • The type of security if applicable (common types are WEP and WPA)
  • The password

Armed with this information you will be able to access the network.

So why does this relate to the iPhone?

I carry my own personal mobile Wi-Fi 3G hotspot (Huawei e585 - there’s a review elsewhere on this blog) for work reasons, and mainly due to not having a reliable LAN connection at all times.

I tend to have this device with me and switched on all the time for my laptop to connect, and also for convenience, my iPhone.

Recently it became apparent that other people were picking up on my “signal” and attempting to connect to it by guessing the password! So as a precaution i decided to prevent this and set the SSID to non-broadcast mode.

While this worked a treat, the laptop can still see it and connects perfectly fine, the iPhone just seemed to loose its way and could no longer see the connection regardless of it being connected when the SSID was broadcasting.

This was mildly annoying and I've noticed a few people having the same issue. Sadly most suggestions seem fraught with messing about with different firmware versions on the iPhone or playing around with the more critical settings on the router itself, non of this is really necessary.

I have noted two solutions that fix the problem, one is slightly intermittent, the other seems to work every time so far, bar it being a little more long winded.

The more robust method

Please note this method will cause your phone to forget all your networks, if you use multiple ones. It may also be sensible to make a note of your 3G settings if your phone is an unlocked version. If its locked to a specific network it should reteach itself.

Please read through the steps FIRST before you attempt them, and if possible have a go at the easier Alternative Method at the bottom of the page if you desire.

Tap “Settings”

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Tap “General”

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Tap “Reset”

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Tap “Reset Network Settings”

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Your phone will now take about 30 seconds to reset and reboot itself…

When the phone comes back online, navigate back to “Settings” and then to “Wi-Fi”

Under the “Choose a Network…” section, tap “Other”

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This is where you need to specific network information.

First of all type the “Name” in. Remember it is case specific. Meaning you need to put capital letters in the right places etc...

If your network is called “MyNetwork” typing “mynetwork” will not work!

If your network has a password, you need to tell the phone what type of encryption it is, tap “Security”

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If you are not 100% sure which one it is… guess until you get the right one! Or...

  • Enter your routers settings and look what type it is
  • On another computer, open the Wi-Fi connection shortcut and hover the mouse pointer over the connection. It will appear in a tooltip.

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In the example above it is WPA

Once you have selected the encryption type, you then have the option for the Password input

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Enter the Password and then click Join

You iPhone should now connect to the hidden network.

Alternative Method

The other method is easier and doesnt cause your phone to loose any other networks, i however had not had the same success as the previous method 100% of the time.

It also only works if you have access to controlling the SSID network settings.

  1. Start with the SSID set to broadcast
  2. Access the Wi-Fi settings on your iPhone
  3. On the specific connection, tap the blue arrow to the right hand side
  4. Tap “Forget this Network”
  5. Access the router
  6. Set the SSID to non broadcast
  7. Enter the networks name and password using the same method as above.

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