Just to complete the thread, Verizon has me convinced that the 9650 just isn't powerful enough to handle the higher transfer speeds. The processor is indeed inferior (compared to the Bold 9000)...
Maybe VZW just didn't want to try any harder, but I have given up as well. The phone is connected to the router and seems fine - it is just half the speed.
And this is the best BB VZW has.... <sigh>