Computer is a Dell studio 1558 running Windows 7 Home premium

I don't know how long it has been gone, but I've noticed that the "Local Area Network" icon is missing from "Control Panel \ Network and Internet \ Network Connections"

If I go to "Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Network and Sharing Center" and look under the "view your active networks" section, the "connections: " is blank

I've gone searching the internet for a solution to this to absolutely no avail.

1. Device manager shows for the Realtek PCIe GBE adapter as "This device is working correctly"
2. I am able to connect to the Internet and browse my local home group (and its shares) okay
3. I've updated the Motherboard drivers, Lan drivers and BIOS to the latest available from the Dell support website (by putting in my service tag number)
4. Uninstalled the NIC driver and allowed windows to reinistall the driver.
5. Booting into safe mode (with networking) does not reveal the adapter either.
6. Ran the system file checker... No problems.

Any possible ideas??

Many Thanks.

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Windows IP Configuration

Host Name . . . . . . . . . . . . : xxxxxxxxxx
Primary Dns Suffix . . . . . . . :
Node Type . . . . . . . . . . . . : Broadcast
IP Routing Enabled. . . . . . . . : No
WINS Proxy Enabled. . . . . . . . : No

Ethernet adapter Local Area Connection:

Connection-specific DNS Suffix . :
Description . . . . . . . . . . . : Realtek PCIe GBE Family Controller
Physical Address. . . . . . . . . : F0-4D-A2-4B-A8-88
DHCP Enabled. . . . . . . . . . . : Yes
Autoconfiguration Enabled . . . . : Yes
Link-local IPv6 Address . . . . . : fe80::fc7a:ec31:70eb:f189%19(Preferred)
IPv4 Address. . . . . . . . . . . : 192.168.1.12(Preferred)
Subnet Mask . . . . . . . . . . . : 255.255.255.0
Lease Obtained. . . . . . . . . . : Tuesday, 6 September 2011 6:05:50 p.m.
Lease Expires . . . . . . . . . . : Friday, 9 September 2011 6:05:50 p.m.
Default Gateway . . . . . . . . . : 192.168.1.1
DHCP Server . . . . . . . . . . . : 192.168.1.1
DHCPv6 IAID . . . . . . . . . . . : 519064994
DHCPv6 Client DUID. . . . . . . . : 00-01-00-01-14-1D-D0-18-F0-4D-A2-4B-A8-8

DNS Servers . . . . . . . . . . . : 192.168.1.1
NetBIOS over Tcpip. . . . . . . . : Enabled

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