Now that Dot and Tap have arrived with all their Bluetoothy goodness, many Alexa device owners are trying out Bluetooth connections to Echo, Dot and Tap for the first time and some of them are experiencing problems. Today I’m addressing the most common reasons and fixes for problems with these Bluetooth connections.
Frequent Bluetooth Disconnects? Check Your Router Band.
Most current-model WiFi routers are dual band, meaning that they support both 2.4GHz and 5GHz connections, and most are preset to the 2.4GHz band by default. It’s not always a problem, but certain devices (like Alexa devices) can sometimes experience Bluetooth connectivity issues when your router is set to the 2.4GHz band. In that situation, switching your router to the 5GHz band may solve the problem.
Note that this discussion is geared toward consumers who are not WiFi/networking power users. While it’s true that there are methods and devices that support keeping two or more router bands active simultaneously and assigning specific devices to each band, anyone who knows that should also be knowledgeable enough to know how to do it already, or at least where to look online to find out how. Today I’m only addressing how to switch a dual-band router from the 2.4GHz band to the 5GHz band.
1. Find Your Router’s Internet Protocol (ip) Address
Go to your preferred web browser from a laptop, computer, phone or tablet that’s directly connected (as opposed to tethered via a hotspot or other middle-man device) to your WiFi network and type in “what’s my ip”? Most residential Internet Service Providers (ISPs) assign a static, or unchanging, ip to their customers’ routers.
2. Login To Your Router’s Console
Copy the ip you got in step one and paste it into a new browser tab or window. You should see a login page for your router. Your ISP should have supplied your router’s default login credentials at the time your WiFi was installed. If not, or if you don’t remember where they are, Router Passwords provides a great, free tool for looking up default login credentials for most router brands and models.
Note that if you’ve changed your router credentials from the default—and you really should, if you haven’t already—then the default usernames and passwords provided at Router Passwords won’t work for you. You’ll need to enter the new credentials you created. If you don’t remember them or can’t find them, you’ll have to contact your ISP and ask them to walk you through resetting your router’s login credentials to their defaults.
3. Select The 5GHz Band
Each router’s console will look a little different, so any specific screenshots I might include here won’t be accurate for all readers. However, the consoles should have at least a few common features so while you may have to poke around a little to find the settings referred to below, the steps should be easy enough to follow.
a) Go to the Wireless Settings / Basic Wireless Settings screen.
b) Select the “Manual” setting. This may be a checkbox or a radio button (dot) you must select, where the alternative, default setting is some kind of automatic configuration option.
c) For “Standard Channel”, select one of the 5GHz options from the drop-down list. Channels 36, 40, 44 and 48 are often recommended by router manufacturers as the best for avoiding interference.
d) Save your changes and log out—unless your router is still set to its default login credentials. In that case, you should change them because otherwise, anyone who knows how to look up default router passwords could login to yours and install malware or do some other damage. The specific steps will vary according to your router brand.
If your router is a different brand than any of these, try a Google search on “reset [brand] router password”.
Bluetooth Audio Intermittently Drops Out, Pops or Buzzes
Since 2.4GHz is currently the typical default band for all residential WiFi routers, it can be a very crowded band in locations where many separate WiFi networks are in use relatively close to one another (e.g., apartment buildings, office buildings). If that’s the type of environment you’re in, following the steps above to switch your router’s band may resolve your problems.
Otherwise, the most likely causes come down to three possibilities: weak connection/signal, interference, or compatibility issues.
The most likely cause of a weak Bluetooth connection or signal is too much distance, or obstruction, between the two devices. Bluetooth connections will generally be strong with a distance of 6-10 feet between devices, but many Bluetooth-capable mobile devices (like the Amazon Tap) are specially designed to maintain a strong connection at up to 30 or more feet away. Either way, the further apart the two devices are separated and the more physical barriers there are between them (e.g., walls, doors, large pieces of furniture, major appliances or large electronics), the more likely it is your Bluetooth signal will weaken or drop out completely.
Interference can be caused by any of a number of wireless electronics being used in proximity to your Bluetooth-connected devices. HAM radios and walkie-talkies are common culprits most consumers already know to avoid, but any wireless device that uses the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz band (microwave transmitters, wireless cameras, baby monitors, other Wi-Fi devices/routers) can cause interference with Bluetooth (or WiFi) connections.
Finally, if all else fails, you’ll have to consider the possibility that your devices simply aren’t compatible with one another. Remember that even the most basic, no-name Bluetooth speaker has some software in it to manage its Bluetooth connectivity, and software can become dated and fall out of sync with newer devices. In the case of a major brand device (e.g., JBL, UE, etc.) you can try contacting the company’s customer or technical support department to ask if your device is compatible for Bluetooth connection to whichever Alexa device you’re having problems with.
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