Princeton Details Apple iPad Wi-Fi Issues

Several universities in the USA and the country of Israel have banned iPad use within their borders. While reasons are varied and have changed over time, all have centered around the iPad Wi-Fi implementation. As reported by MacRumors, Princeton University came out with the reasoning for their iPad ban. While the items sited are completely transparent to the end user, they could be a headache for any large scale IT department.

The problem arises with the way the iPad interacts with DHCP. The Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) is the primary mechanism most large scale enterprises and IT infrastructures keep some semblance of order in their networks. Instead of each device being assigned a static IP address, DHCP provides a mechanism where a device that enters the network leases an IP address for a preconfigured length of time. When the lease is up, the device either renews the lease if it is still in the network or the lease expires if its no longer present. IP addresses associated with expired leases are recycled and leased to new devices entering the network.

The issue with the iPad is it allows the DHCP lease to expire even when it continues to communicate on the network. The DHCP controller believes the iPad has left the network and recycles the IP address. Since the IP address the iPad has is still valid it can continue to operate on the network. The problem arises when a new device comes along and leases the IP address. Then you have two devices on the same network with the same IP address and that can cause a lot of issues for a network administrator. IP address conflicts can be a nightmare to solve. According to the report, Princeton has developed a workaround for the issue and is working with Apple to provide a solution for all iPad owners.

Apple often has problems with first generation hardware; in fact, they’re famous for it. One of the many points I heard in the buy / don’t buy debate leading up to the iPad debut was that people didn’t want to be Apple’s guinea pigs. Like it or not, there is a grain of truth in this position. There are usually issues with first generation Apple devices that aren’t found until they get out in public. Early adopters usually have a high tolerance for this type of behavior. The average person who may have some knowledge of Apple products and history may have been dissuaded from buying an iPad for this very reason. While not exactly proving the naysayers right, it is a valid point and issues like those found at Princeton are proof of it.

Was your knowledge of Apple’s history with first generation products enough to put you off being an early iPad adopter? Will you buy a second or third generation iPad once all the kinks have been worked out? Did you have a high enough tolerance for these issues to be an early adopter? Leave us a comment and let us know.


8 Comments on “Princeton Details Apple iPad Wi-Fi Issues”

  1. Mork from Ork

    “Apple often has problems with first generation hardware; in fact, they’re famous for it.”

    Like Windows?

    This is almost certainly a software/firmware problem that will be patched.

    As for problems with first generation products, If all a company does is manufacture PC clones, then first gen problems should be non-existent. But when you make innovative high-tech products, like the iPhone, iPad, or a major Windows release, problems are nearly inevitable. It's not rocket science. It's harder.

    I won't be buying a first gen iPad, but I am sincerely thankful to early adopters of any product. They perform a necessary function. Beta testing is helpful, but there is no substitute for hundreds of thousands of users in real-world situations

  2. jhzafrani

    I have the same issue with my iPad. It will remain “connected” but the IP address is no longer on a lease so it gets reassigned. It becomes a nightmare because the iPad does not tell you of the issue, it simply continues to act as if it is a member of the network. It is corrected when the settings is changed.

    It is strange that the iPad will have this issue since this is something that must have been tested. My thought is that it is done on purpose for home networks where the DHCP leases do not matter much since you may only have one or two computers on the wireless network and a couple of devices like the iPad. In those cases, since the WiFi connection can go up and down, it makes for a constant connection regardless of the lease and therefore provides a “better experience”. Bad for corporate networks and schools. I am sure that Apple will provide a fix for this, but the question is when…

  3. daniel

    No I will get an iPad come what may. At it's price I can easily replace it with a V2 or V3 when it comes along, but there's nothing like having the latest piece of tech and showing it off.

    I'm waiting on the euro release

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