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NOTE: This question is NOT a duplicate of Bluetooth and Wifi interfering with one another since Yosemite. That answer pertains to 1) The 2.4 GHz band only and 2) Yosemite only.

Background:

Though currently I’m running Yosemite (10.10.3), I have consistently experienced this issue since purchasing my Macbook Pro (Late 2013, originally running Mavericks). Whether it be a bluetooth mouse, headphones, or even iPhone, whenever I pair a device with my Macbook Pro, my Wifi speeds (running on 5 GHz band) drop by at least %50. I can reproduce this issue repeatedly. It only occurs when a device is paired via bluetooth to the machine. It does not occur when bluetooth is simply enabled on my computer.

At this point, I just don't connect devices via bluetooth anymore since the WiFi drop is noticeable. I am using a Logitech nano receiver mouse (and using up one of my precious two :( USB ports in the process) rather than using a Bluetooth mouse.

Machine Specs:

Model Name: MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Late 2013)
Model Identifier:   MacBookPro 11,3
Processor: 2.6 GHz Intel Core i7
Memory: 16 GB 1600 MHz DDR3
System Version: OS X 10.10.3 (14D136)
Kernel Version: Darwin 14.3.0

Speed Tests1:

WiFi speeds with Bluetooth-enabled, no devices paired:

three

WiFi speeds with Bluetooth-enabled, any device paired:

two


Troubleshooting:

I’ve ruled out my LAN set-up:

  • I use a TP-LINK Archer C8 Router connected to a modem provided by my ISP (running in bridge mode). I use the 5 GHz band exclusively. To rule out any band interference, I’ve tested the WiFi speed on the 2.4 GHz band as well. The same drop occurs regardless of the band.

  • I’ve used my ISP’s modem as a Gateway to directly connect to the internet (to rule out the TC-Link Router as the cause). Same result.

I’ve isolated the issue to that of a Wireless one.

There is no speed drop when my machine uses a wired connection (Thunderbolt Ethernet adapter > Ethernet Cable > WAN)

I’ve ruled out a specific Bluetooth device as the cause:

Originally, I thought the issue was with my Logitech M557 mouse. I tested my Magic Mouse instead. Both yielded the same drop in Wifi speed. The same has gone for any device that I paired with my MBP - Apple brand or not. Sidenote: I’ve unpaired the devices after testing. I only have one device paired (though not actively connected).

I’ve ruled out third party software:

The issue persists without any third party kernel extensions loaded. Additionally, with no other third party software running (Dropbox, for example).

I’ve ruled out a specific OS X:

This issue has occurred since purchase, in Dec 2013. Across OS X Mavericks - Yosemite. Additionally, the machine has had a clean install of OS X from a fresh Yosemite image.

I’ve ruled out my Macbook Pro’s hardware:

I ran the Apple Diagnostic Test, repeated times, with no error codes. On a separate issue (blown out builtin speaker recently), I had brought my machine into Apple. I had them run their in-house diagnostic test to confirm no BT related hardware issues. Additionally, as stated, this issue has been a problem from Day 1.


My Question:

Why does my Macbook Pro's WiFi speed drop by 50+% when paired with any Bluetooth device? Is there a solution?


1Courtesy of speedof.me


UPDATE:

Screenshot of detailed Wifi connection with a BT mouse paired. The SNR and Tx Rate are good:

enter image description here

In fact, nearly identical without BT device paired:

enter image description here

  • 1
    Can you replicate the issue on a different computer, just for more absolute proof that it's not a hardware issue? – user24601 May 8 '15 at 6:31
  • Try opening Activity Monitor. See if any new process are started when a Bluetooth device is connected. Also check the Network tab to make sure nothing that has just started is slowing down your connection. – Séb May 8 '15 at 7:00
  • @user24601 This is a good point. Just tested with a bluetooth mouse on my buddy's 2011 Macbook Air, running Mavericks. I found that the same issue occurred, though the drop was not as significant (Wifi speeds dropped by ~%25 when paired). – njboot May 9 '15 at 5:52
  • this person seems to be having the same problem as you. – TheBro21 May 11 '15 at 7:36
  • 1
    Just for debugging. Have you tried to setup a bluetooth connection with your phone and a headphone next to your macintosh? So the phone and headphones are connected and the computer is not. When the connection problems still occur, interference might be the cause. – CousinCocaine May 12 '15 at 12:14
2

I found this answer here: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/6803542, a guy named 'Todd Berliner' had similar issues. Credits for him if this fixes your issue

Todd has similar problems and worked with an Apple senior supervisor for several weeks and came to the following fix:

  1. Turn off bluetooth.
  2. Disconnect all peripherals from your computer.
  3. Open System Preferences. In the "Energy Saver" preference, de-select "Wake for network access" (no check, and leave it that way).
  4. Open the finder. Select the "Go" menu. Select "computer." Select "Macintosh HD." Go the the "Library" folder. Go to the "Preferences" folder. Find the preference file "com.apple.bluetooth.plist."
  5. Rename "com.apple.bluetooth.plist" as "com.apple.bluetooth.plist.old" (i.e. add ".old"). Eventually, if this solution works for you, you can delete this "old" preference file.
  6. Restart your computer (this will create a new "com.apple.bluetooth.plist" preference file).
  7. Turn bluetooth back on.

Apparently, the problem is a bug caused by a bad interaction between the bluetooth preference file and wifi.

1

You have explicitly written that you tested both 2.4GHz en 5GHz, nevertheless I am still giving this as an anser.

In short:

In your new software setup, I think your bluetooth uses the same frequency as your WiFi, they are proberbly both on 2.4GHz. Change your WiFi to fixed 5GHz if possible or choose try 2.4GHz channels (some users see big differences on different channels).

Longer version:

Interference of the 2.4 GHz and 5GHz band

In analog and digital communications, signal-to-noise ratio is a measure of signal strength relative to background noise. You want a high signal to noise ratio. Example:

  • If your signal is weak, lets say 50, but the noise is low, lets say 10, then there is still 40 left for data transfer.
  • If your signal is strong, lets say 80, but the noise is high as well, lets say 50, there is only 30 left for data transfer.

Simpel said: Noise is usually radio signal in the same frequency range.

Knowing this, there is a good article on the Apple website that explains what is happening. It also has some links to other good documentation, like the Wireless Diagnostics support page. I summarised the most important parts.

Effects of interference:

  • A decrease in the wireless range between devices
  • A decrease in data throughput over Wi-Fi
  • Intermittent or complete loss of the wireless connection
  • Difficulty pairing during a Bluetooth device's discovery phase

Sources of interference

  • Microwave ovens
  • Direct Satellite Service (DSS)
  • Certain external electrical sources (railroad tracks, power stations)
  • Other transmitters/receivers that operate in the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz bandwidth. (like other WiFi or Bluetooth transmitters)
  • Certain displays may emit harmonic interference

Possible fix

Try changing your access point to use 5 Ghz or a lower 2.4 GHz channel.

When you use a Macintosh with an AirPort or TimeCapsule basestation, by default, this should go automatically as the two machines try to get the highest signal to noise as possible and switch frequencies automatically.

  • Thank you for your extensive response, but I think you misunderstood/overlooked the point the Q. I explicitly state that the problem occurs on the 5 GHz band. I don’t broadcast 2.4 GHz band at all in my LAN. When I did, it was to rule out the 5 GHz band as the problem. – njboot May 13 '15 at 4:45
1

I have the same problem with my MacBook Pro Retina 13" 2014 on Yosemite 10.10.3 and 10.10.4 with Apple AirPort. My problem is not depended on bluetooth state at all. Wife's MacBook Air have no problems at all, looks like it does not support 802.11ac at all - only 802.11n. So I think the problem is in 802.11ac.

Just found how to fix it – this is not good fix, but it works.

I have changed AirPort 5GHz network name and connected not to 5GHz network. Looks like connecting to 5GHz network causing this problem every time I try.

This is how looks my 7Mbit degradation on 5GHz network:

enter image description here

And nice working on 2.4GHz:

enter image description here

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