Why my devices get the wrong location when connected to Wi-Fi
Devices show the wrong location after installing a new router or moving to a new place
Sometimes you may encounter situations in which your devices such as phones and laptops are unable to get the correct location when connected to Wi-Fi after you buy a new router, reactivate a router that hasn't been used for some time, or bring your old router to a new house. You may receive the wrong local news, or weather reports, or keep getting such information based on the location of your previous house.
In this case, you can still get the correct location via the cellular network. Some customers may blame the issue on TP-Link routers as they think the location accuracy is based on GPS or the public IP of the router when using Wi-Fi, which is NOT true.
Then how do devices get their locations?
How does a device determine its location?
Usually, the built-in location services on your device will use GPS, Wi-Fi (some may use Bluetooth) or cell towers to determine your device’s approximate location.
When you’re in the wild or on the road, where there are few access points/cell towers nearby, your device may use GPS to get its location as long as it’s within the signal coverage of some satellites.
While you’re at home, your device will connect to your home WiFi network and use WiFi positioning technology to determine its location, which is faster and more power-saving than GPS. The technology uses already existing infrastructure and WiFi access points (APs) to calculate where a device is located. However, the device itself needs to turn on WiFi to listen to the nearby access points to know their location. Here we use an example to make it easier to understand.
When you’re at home, your device connects to your home Wi-Fi network and has a full GPS signal. In this situation, your home’s location will be spotted by GPS together with the BSSID (WLAN MAC address) of nearby WiFi networks. Such information will be sent to the databases of location service providers including Skyhook, Google, Apple, Microsoft, etc. Next time when there’s a storm outside and GPS is not working, your device can still get its location with WiFi on since there is a location in the database mapping your home router’s BSSID.
This explains why your devices may get the wrong location after you purchase a new router or move to a new place. It’s caused that the BSSID location of your router still maps the previous location, not the current one. In other words, it’s not TP-Link routers that should be blamed, but the wrong mapping recordings in the location database.
How to correct the location
Due to some rough research, we provide three possible solutions here as a reference. Of course, if you have better opinions, you can also share with us here.
- Since this issue is caused by the wrong location mapping with the BSSID of the router in the location database, the fastest solution is to update the mapping rules. However, it seems that the location service providers do not update their location databases as often as expected. Thus, the only solution may be to wait until the location of your router is updated automatically (it may take weeks or months). Due to Google’s official statement, you may keep GPS turned on (ensure you have a GPS signal in your house) when your devices are connected to your home Wi-Fi network, which may speed up the updating process.
Tips: If you have an Android phone, it’s suggested to go to Settings of the phone, then find and switch on Wi-Fi scanning and Bluetooth scanning, which may help improve the location accuracy as well.
2. If your devices have built-in location services powered by Skyhook (Samsung, Motorola, etc), you can manually update the location of your router through the link below.
3. If you have a good GPS signal at home and don’t want to get your device location determined by Wi-Fi or mobile networks, then you can go to Settings -> Location on your Android devices and fix the location mode to Device only, which uses GPS only to detect the location.
Tips: Please note that GPS may not be available in places such as multi-store buildings, parking garages, or airports, where there are walls, roofs, and other infrastructure interfere with the GPS signal.