update: I went into the printers IP address and noticed in advanced settings a box remained unticked next to something giving a pathway for Infrastructure settings. I ticked this box - and everything went back to normal.
Just posting in case someone else has a similar problem so they can see a solution.
Thanks for all your suggestions along the way - it helped eliminate things and guide me towards the solution.
Keep in mind that your wifi card can only see wifi networks. It can't see other things using the same frequencies. This includes cordless phones, baby monitors, security cameras, Bluetooth devices, Xbox 360 controllers... the list goes on and on and on. To see those networks you need a special USB device which costs quite a lot (example).
This video (on youtube) is worth watching for a brief intro do Inssider. The home edition will be enough for you to see what channels various networks are on and how the signal ranges overlap.
Click where it says NETWORKS. You will see the various networks listed on the left side. Highlight your network by either clicking with mouse or scrolling with arrow keys. Then press the S key so that a blue star appears next to the network name. This helps you find your network, if there are lots in your area.
Depending on the frequency being used, the graphs at the bottom will show the networks ranges, with your starred network being in blue. The rest of the networks will be yellow, red, grey depending on signal strength and when detected.
With signal strength, you are looking at a negative number. -25 is better than -69.
On the right hand side there is a box showing network name and a Link Score. The higher the link score the better.
With a 2.4GHz network, channel 1, 6 and 11 are the commonly used ones as they avoid overlapping.
I am not sure how to improve things - I think the key is to select a channel where there are not any other networks within say about -30db. So if your network is -25db, if others are -75db on the same channel they should be far enough away not to affect things too much, whereas if they are 35db, then they are close.
Try changing the channel of the network on the router, 1, 6, 11, and record what the Link Score is for each... then use the one with the highest link score.
A few months ago virgin upgraded my broadband package so I could get the new speed. This involved someone coming and fitting a new box in the house.
Since then my wireless printer has been playing up. It is taking an age to print anything. For example, I sent a 60 page document to print 20 minutes ago and only 5 pages have printed so far. Often it just wont print the whole document so I have to cancel the print and then try again to print pages which failed the first time round.
I work for myself, at home, so its really important I can print things out.
I have tried disconnecting the printer and then reloading it again but no joy.
Has anyone any idea what could be happening? Is it to do with the new broadband or is that just a coincidence? dont want to shell out for a new printer if its the broadband / wireless issue.