The easy uneasiness of the Belkin N1 Wireless Router

When Belkin Canada asked me to test drive its N1 Wireless Router they told me it would be one of the easiest installations that I ever would go through.

And they were right. But that’s not the whole story.

I installed the router on the Good Friday holiday in April and the process was as advertised. The setup CD made it easy setting up a wireless network. From beginning to end, it was seamless. The product was able to provide wireless Internet access throughout the house – for four hours.

Then it was over, and it was only this past week that I, along with a slew of technical staff at Belkin and at Bell-Sympatico, managed to get the wireless Internet up and available once again. It was a marathon effort that involved multiple layers of technical support and patience on my part and, to a certain degree, on the part of Belkin Canada staff.

The thing I cannot take any issue with is with Belkin itself, and the product. The product worked and was not defective as one technical support person thought. What happened was one of those fluke situations that could happen to anyone. My original wired modem supplied by my Internet provider, Bell-Sympatico, decided it no longer wanted to work four hours after I installed the N1 Wireless Router.

The modem had been working since early 2001 so I can’t really complain about the performance of the modem. It worked for a long time. Both Belkin and Bell-Sympatico technical support were unable to realize that the problem was the old modem. A women based in the U.K. that provides Bell-Sympatico with what they call third level support suggested that the modem should be changed.

A replacement took weeks to get in. Once that came in and was installed; a whole new set up was needed. No longer would I have to double click on an icon and launch the Internet. The Internet would now be always on. All I had to do was click on the browser. But the Bell-Sympatico folks were unable to help me establish a connection.

Bell-Sympatico told me they were going to run some more tests on their end and get back to me. That never happened. Several days later I called to see how far they had gotten only to learn that the whole process had to begin again from the beginning. They were able to establish a connection finally.

In the midst of all this the Bell-Sympatico technical staff tried to up-sell me on a wireless router. I told them that is what started all this.

Now the next step was to call Belkin and figure out the wireless part. This too was also delayed because of out of town commitments on my part. Once I did get a hold of a Belkin technician it was just a matter of minutes before the wireless router worked.

This whole process was too long and I can see why people give up and return the product for another one. Or call Geek Squad or Nerds on the Run or a friend with some IT capability.

However, now that I have a wireless router up and running perfectly the family has real freedom to be connected anywhere in the house. Even some of my neighbours would like to log on, but can’t because of the strong security on the N1 Wireless Router.

The product does have some minor hiccups such, as the power cord. It has a two pronged socket and can only be put into the outward outlets on your surge protector. You can easily put it into the wall outlet.

The set-up CD for some reason does not like Canada. I was forced to choose other. Does Belkin know Canada is a G8 country and one of the more powerful on Earth? The software was able to recognize countries such as Malaysia, Belgium, Hungry, Indonesia, Israel, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Thailand and some country I never heard of called Sewellen.

The N1 Wireless Router does not automatically know your system protocols such as PPPOE. Not a big deal, but it can impede non-tech savvy users. You need to be prepared to properly install this product. Make sure you know all your system protocols, usernames, and passwords or have them on hand it will speed up the process.

It took a total of 25 minutes to get it installed and working. And, another 85 days to get it working again.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Former editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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