How can I make my wireless network work?

Just moved within western Prince William County and switched from Verizon to Comcast, since Verizon couldn't provide the services we want. Visions of teleworking 20 hours a week in a brand new, fully wired house danced before my eyes. However, for five weeks now our internet service via Comcast has been hit-or-miss, with--you guessed it--way more miss than hit. We have the Comcast Arris modem, a Belkin Surf wireless N router, and Belkin wireless adapters on our desktops. Both desktops (Vista Home Premium) reliably have LIMITED CONNECTIVITY, that is, ZERO. I tried Comcast's Netgear router, with the same results. But go figure: both laptops (each with internal wireless cards; one Vista Home Premium and one XP) connect to the home network consistently.

Comcast says everything is fine from their end. Their techs tell me to recycle the modem and router and/or blame Microsoft IE. Which means recycling every hour or so. I'd like to see how long they'd put up with that at their house. They also tell me the blinking LINK light on the modem is normal. Unless they tell me it isn't.

An independent tech says the Comcast modem is next to worthless and that we should drop Comcast voice, replace it with Verizon, and get Comcast Double Play, which would give us a more reliable modem that doesn't have to handle voice. Easy for him to say. He also suggested that one desktop was too far from the modem. Actually, it's closer than the one that sometimes gets a connection. Both show above average signal strength. He further suggested dumping Vista and installing Windows 7 on the computers. At $120 a pop, I don't think so.

What's frustrating is that sometimes we have connectivity on the desktops and it doesn't seem to correlate with how many times I recycle modem/router. Or delete our network using Manage Wireless Connections in Control Panel and then re-add it. Most of the time, the desktops don't recognize the Key, anyway, and when they do, we're right back to limited connectivity. And, then, poof, we'll get connected for a while. Magic.

Will hard-wiring the desktops help? Or sucking it up and waiting for FIOS? Or really sucking it up and dumping Comcast voice and picking up Verizon for phone? The techs point their fingers at each other. Who would you point your finger at? I don't need to know which finger.
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More about make wireless network work
  1. If you use wireless you are always subject to the vagaries of reception and interference. If the system works when hard wired you need to look again at wireless as the culprit.

    Start by raising the wireless router above furniture level. Relocate cordless phone base or video sender, etc. away from router or computer.

    Experiment with wireless channels -- some will work better than others in different environs.

    If you can detect strong neighbouring wifi, move five stops from the strongest.
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