I have a 17" Early 2008 Macbook Pro running lion 10.7.2. And about 3 weeks ago, this problem started occurring where my interent would stop working randomly. I go to toggle the Wi-Fi on and off, but when I try to turn Wi-fi on, it does nothing and the wifi icon remains an empty wedge.

Trying to turn Wi-Fi on from System preferences also does nothing - same empty signal.

But if I restart my Mac I can get on Wi-Ffi normally and it will last from a couple hours to a couple minutes till it drops again and I need to restart to get back on.

I searched all over the web for a solution and tried to

  • reordering wifi above the other service in System Preferences
  • deleting 'SystemConfiguration' folder in under library>preferences
  • reinstalling Lion from recovery disk
  • Reset PRAM
  • Reset SMC

Nothing works. And I haven't found anyone on the web with the same problem.

Has anyone seen this problem before? Is it a Lion issue? Or is it hardware, like a messed up airport card?

Any help would be so greatly appreciated.


For anyone else who may stumble upon this issue, I've been dealing with this issue for a couple weeks and took it to the genius bar. After having me completely wipe my harddrive and do a fresh install of the OS and manual install of all my programs, It is conclusively a hardware problem. And the fix is to have your airport card replaced. Which is about $120.

  • 1
    It's probably hardware, but try running /System/Library/CoreServices/Wi-Fi Diagnostics.app and watch the console log for message indicating an issue with the networking or en1 device.
    – bmike
    Nov 15, 2011 at 23:54
  • This problem is definitely hardware as the update to the original post says. I updated from Snow Leopard to Lion thinking that it may have been a software problem, but it persisted well after that. I ordered and installed a replacement Airport card and have not had the problem since. If you're comfortable replacing it yourself, you can get the part for $10-20 online. Powerbookmedic.com has it: powerbookmedic.com/…
    – rbritton
    Feb 23, 2012 at 22:46
  • I've got a friend's Macbook Pro (Early 2011) in front of me running 10.7.5 that shows the same symptoms. The trigger seems to be movement of the machine, possibly including flexing of the bottom case. Until that point, it'll be solid. After that, it drops off the network and Airport off/on doesn't bring anything back. A reboot is all that fixes it. But I wonder if there was a common fault, as I recall a colleague's Macbook Pro of the same vintage having the same never-ending Wifi problems. I tried earlier OS X 10.7 versions of the Airport driver and it made no difference.
    – jrg
    Jun 16, 2013 at 9:57

2 Answers 2


I would strongly agree that in most cases, when WiFi signal starts strong after a reboot (when the hardware is up to normal operating temperatures) and then degrades over minutes, it is most likely a symptom that the amplifier is failing and the WiFi card (or router) needs to be replaced.

You can hold the option key down when selecting WiFi in the menu bar and watch the Transmit Rate and RSSI change over time. A repeatable, measurable drop in transmit rate would back up the hardware fault as a cause for this.


My macbook (late 2008) refused to get wifi from airport some months ago. The MacCleanse app worked for me. Run "scan and delete" with it (loaded recommended set). Now my macbook has kept wi-fi for several days now, without a single drop.

  • You were probably having a different issue to the O/P.
    – jrg
    Jun 16, 2013 at 9:55

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .