Is there an expectation to lose or corrupt WiFi drivers if there are no working WiFi connections, using system settings/network graphic interface? Is there a contingency that isn't obvious?
Got WiFi up on Dell Latitude D830/Broadcom BCM4311, using well-regarded b43 driver on top of Elementary install. Antenna HW LED and screen WiFi animation showed working (also, list of available networks appears in networking and pull-down menu), although I had a problem peer to peer and abandoned that test. At new site following morning, deleted my failed connections before building a new connection, and noticed antenna was offline, forever. Did not witness cause and effect, but the antenna never came back. Hardware Antenna switch proven not involved.
New clean Elementary from flash today, only installed notified updates, then removed wl and added b43 (BCM4311), and the antenna is back. I have a couple of no-traffic connections built now (indicators only), and I will leave them present while testing new work site connection tomorrow.