Friday, November 5

SOLVED: 5GHz 802.11n networks not showing up with Dell DW1520 wireless-N adapter

In rebuilding/building out my home office network, I've been adding some wireless-N equipment that finally seems reliable -- the Netgear WNDAP350 and WNDR3700. After poor experiences with N since late 2007, I had purchased a new laptop (Dell Studio) in May with a G-band wifi card only. My more recent, happy experiences with N led me to purchase a replacement mini PCIe 802.11n adapter from Dell - the DW1520.

The adapter arrived yesterday, and I of course eagerly popped open the back of my Windows 7 Ultimate x64 laptop to install it. Everything in place, machine rebooted, and ... it got a great signal from my G-band access points, but not a sign of the N-band APs.

I rebooted the PC, the router and the AP, all to no avail. No sign of the Ns. Did some research online, found problems with previous adapters in the series, but researched the Broadcom component on the DW1520 to find that 5GHz was, in fact, supported. I was stymied.

Hours later, I took another stab at it. In reviewing the driver settings, I found that my Location value was set to Japan, and I had no way of changing it! Recalling the multiple sets of localized drivers on the driver CD provided by Dell, I made the lucky assumption that Windows had found the wrong set of drivers and regional telecom/wireless compliance mismatch was probably interfering with the adapter finding my 5GHz networks.

I uninstalled the network controller and driver via Device Manager, making sure to specify the Windows should delete the driver software to ensure I replaced it with the properly localized binaries. Scanned for hardware changes, specified browsing for the driver, made certain to select the Win7\DRIVER_US folder for searching.

Voila! The wifi adapter reinstalls painlessly, and this time my location is correct:

Now connected to my nearby N-band AP with speeds of up to 300mbps (varies):