Help with AirPrint issue

I’m in the Montreal area and I just switched from Bell “Fibe” Internet to Videotron Helix service. The Helix gateway is the XB7, used by Comcast’s Xfinity service.

I have two wireless AirPrint printers. I connected them to the WiFi network, but they consistently disappear after about 30 minutes or so. In order to print, I have to manually power cycle the printer so that it will temporarily reappear on the network, enabling me to print.

Has anyone else experienced similar issues with AirPrint/AirPlay/Bonjour services in conjunction with a specific router model? If so, what did you do to resolve it? I’ve seen people having similar problems with both my ISP and Xfinity, but I haven’t found a definitive solution. Tech support has suggested that it’s a “mac problem”

I’ve seen this with Brother printers a few years ago. A firmware update fixed it. So the first thing I would do is update the printers’ firmware to the latest revisions.

If it is possible to connect your printer to the LAN via Ethernet, you can use that for AirPrint. In my home, the printer is in the same room as my router so I connected it to an Ethernet switch (along with everything else in the room). My mobile devices can still see it via AirPrint because my Wi-Fi router forwards all of its multicast traffic to the Ethernet segment of the network.

I have seen Bonjour flakiness over Wi-Fi years ago on an old Actiontec router (for a FiOS network). It would only forward multicast traffic in one direction (from the wired to the wireless network) and not the other way. So my wired devices could see Bonjour services on the Wi-Fi network, but wireless devices could not see Bonjour services on the wired network.

I ended up working around the bug by disabling the Wi-Fi on the router altogether and used an old Linksys router (in bridge mode) as a dumb Wi-Fi access point. This had no problem forwarding multicast packets in both directions.

But your symptoms (device working fine until it goes to sleep and then disappears) doesn’t sound like a network problem to me. It sounds like a problem with the printer itself, hence my suggestion to install firmware updates.

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Hi David,

Thanks for the reply. I’d agree with your assessment except that it affects both my Brother DCP-L2550 running the latest firmware as well as an older Canon Pixma MG6620 (also with recent firmware). They were both working fine on the old router. And given that I’ve seen numerous complaints online about the gateway hardware with respect to AirPrint, I’m still inclined to blame it on something with the router.

It seems that the router doesn’t properly relay mDNS information that allows the devices to be identified as available.

UPDATE: I separated the 5GHz and 2.4GHz wireless bands and gave them different names. The printers still appear to be available after a couple of hours, so this might do the trick. :crossed_fingers:t2:

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Interesting. It still sounds like a printer firmware bug, but if selecting different names for the two bands works around it, then I think you’ve found a solution, even if it’s not ideal.

Failure to forward multicast traffic is what I saw from the Actiontec FiOS router. But I’m surprised you would see intermittent success with that problem. In my experience, that problem results in complete loss of discovery.

Of course, the other solution is to see if you can use different equipment. I’m not familiar with Videotron Helix, but can you buy your own router for this? Maybe using Videotron’s equipment just as a modem? Or maybe disable its Wi-Fi and use your own equipment as a Wi-Fi access point?

On the other hand, since you seem to have a working solution, there’s really no need to buy additional equipment, so all this is really just academic at this point.

You should also try assigning static IP addresses to the printers via the router settings. This resolved a connection problem for me some time ago.
Also the “smart connect” feature of some modern routers seem to confuse some older peripherals (and Homepods)

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As I mentioned previously, I split the 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks. I also gave the printers static IP addresses. Now it appears that the printers, which are both connected to the 2.4GHz network, are visible as long as the printing device is on the same band.

So effectively, it appears that mDNS or whatever announces AirPrint on the network, isn’t allowed to use both wireless networks simultaneously.

This is a very kludgy workaround, since for streaming and downloads, I would prefer to keep most devices on the 5GHz network. Switching networks to print is a pain, and in that case I might be better off just setting up the printers as WiFi Direct printers.

I find this odd, and it seems to be a common issue with the XB7 gateway affecting different providers. I have had both printers connected to dual-band networks for months on end without issue.

Clearly, the router is not passing multicast traffic between your various wireless network segments. If this isn’t something you can disable, then it sounds like a major bug in the router’s firmware.

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I agree.

I’ve continued to research this and have found that for many, the issue also affects HomeKit and other IoT devices. There appears to be some kind of AP isolation happening between the two bands that is preventing consistent communication of devices that relay on mDNS.

We gave up on AirPrint after similar frustrations, perpetually having to power cycle. Given that my main iMac is permanently on, I attached all printers to it some via USB others are directly on the network via Ethernet, and let Printopia take care of wireless access to the printers. It’s simple and works a treat. Laptops and iOS devices have no issues printing to all printers, not just the wireless models but my big ole Laserjet too.

Yes. It will affect quite a lot of the Apple ecosystem because Bonjour (the API used for service discovery) depends heavily on mDNS and other multicast technologies.

I’ve found that (at least for Brother printers), AirPrint works fine if the printer is connected via Ethernet to my Wi-Fi router (a fairly recent Linksys model and a Zoom modem/router before that).

I manually add the printers to my computers using its IP address (actually its host name, via my in-house DNS server). I use AirPrint for printing from my iOS devices, and it seems to work OK (not counting a firmware bug that created inaccessible-while-asleep problems before Brother fixed it).