Technology is awesome when it works as intended, and maddeningly frustrating when it glitches. Unfortunately for some owners of Google's Chromecast dongles and Home smart speakers, they are experiencing the latter with unexpected Wi-Fi dropouts and router reboots. The issue affects several different router models and seems to be related to the way Google's devices cast content.
The complaints have been piling up at Reddit. Those suffering from wonky wireless issues report the problem with Chromecast and Google Home devices on ASUS, Linksys, Netgear, TP-Link, and Synology routers. TP-Link acknowledge the issue, saying many users of its Archer C1200 have been experiencing issues with network connectivity, and offered up some technical insight into what is going on. Here is what TP-Link said:
Following initial research and investigation, our Engineering Team is confident that they've determined one of the key origins of the issue. From what we have gathered so far, the issue appears to be related to some recent releases of Android OS and Google Apps. This issue stems from these devices' 'Cast' feature, which sends MDNS multicast discovery packets in order to keep a live connection with Google products such as Google Home. These packets normally sent in a 20-second interval. However, we have discovered that the devices will sometimes broadcast a large amount of these packets at a very high speed in a short amount of time. This occurs when the device is awakened from the "sleep mode", and could exceed more than 100,000 packets in a short amount of time. The longer your device is in 'sleep', the larger this packet burst will be. This issue may eventually cause some of router’s primary features to shut down—including wireless connectivity.According to TP-Link, generally a person would have to perform a reboot to release the memory and solve the issue. Alternately, users can try disabling the Cast feature on their Android device to help mitigate the issue until a permanent fix is in place. TP-Link is also offering beta firmware for all three versions of its Archer C1200 router.
Linksys and Netgear have also issued firmware updates, the former for its WRT3200ACM and WRT32X routers and the later for its Orbi mesh routers.
"This firmware incorporates a new WLAN driver that will help mitigate an issue that was discovered where Android devices coming in and out of sleep mode would crash the Wireless Network. Both of these firmwares will eventually make their way to our update servers for regular download, however [we] decided that a month of this issue is long enough for us to post this for all of you that have been following this in the community to download and use while we go through our final QA checks that are required before putting it on the update server," Linksys said.
Linksys notes that its beta testing has gone well and that the updated firmware should take care of the majority of issues that people have been complaining about, though there are a few scenarios that it hasn't been able to test yet.
It's not clear if Google is also working to fix the problem, or simply letting router makers deal with the situation.