I need to connect to a semi-public WiFi (Optimum's WiFi for their customers) and I keep associating with the "wrong" access point.

Here's the issue, I'm running Catalina on an 2018 MBP. Running Wireless Diagnostics Scan you can see that there are two SSIDs both named "optimumwifi" both on 5GHz frequency.

  • One has a BSSID ending in :d8, which has a steady Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR) of around -42db on channel 44

  • The other has a BSSID ending in :98, which has an SNR of -85db on channel 157

For some weird reason my MacbBook's Airport card always connects to the AP with the :98 BSSID and the terrible SNR; the performance is dial-up speed, if it even connects at all!

I can't figure out how to force it it to connect to the more powerful signal. Googling the airport terminal commands; they have all been disabled in Catalina.

I pulled out my old 2012 MBP running El Capitan, and it connected to the correct AP automatically and got respectable speeds and a steady connection. I'm currently using Internet Sharing via two Ethernet adapters and a cable to share the connection from the 2012 to the 2018.

This is a very convoluted setup; if I could only connect to the proper access point from the 2018 in the first place!

Does anyone have any ideas on how to force it to use the AP/BSSID I specify (the one with the much lower SNR)?

  • Take a look at this answer, and others on the same question, and see if it helps. – fsb Feb 19 '20 at 17:48
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    Try this command in Terminal: sudo airport prefs JoinMode=Strongest That should force it to go with the "better" signal. – Allan Feb 19 '20 at 17:56
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    Why is this being down voted??? – Allan Feb 19 '20 at 17:57
  • I tried sudo airport prefs JoinMode=Strongest ...ends up in Catalina you need to add the path to airport sudo /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/Apple80211.framework/Versions/Current/Resources/airport prefs JoinMode=Strongest still does not connect to the -42db network! Link from @fsb unfortunately only helps prioritize network names, not multiple BSSIDs with one network name. Funny the 2012 Macbook connects fine in same physical location, just bought a Archer T2U Plus for $16 on Amazon, which seems to have no problem connecting the the strongest BSSID, 5 bars all the way! – risottto Feb 20 '20 at 16:39

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