My apartment is down a hill and gets bad reception. There's only one spot in my apartment where I can get somewhat reliable cell signal. While searching accessory reviews and prices I found Verizon also sells a "network extender" (femtocell) which hooks into your broadband and gives you your own private mini cell tower. They were priced at $200, but I was hoping my corporate discount would apply. It didn't, but they have a $100 rebate right now, so I got one.

Interestingly the femtocell has a GPS receiver built in, so it needs to be able to see the GPS satellites even though it's an indoor device. I placed it by a windowed door, and if found them in a few minutes. This particular one is tied to Verizon's service and was pre-activated, so it just got on the broadband, found the GPS, and now I can go to my account on Verizon's website and manage the cell. It has 4 channels, one reserved for anybody's 911 use (complete with E911 GPS capability) and 3 available for general use. I can let anyone use it, or I can give up to 50 Verizon numbers priority use. I did that and put my number and some family on there. And I have really good signal throughout the apartment now. I expect that will be more beneficial when I get the Droid tomorrow. There is a brief dual tone whenever I start a call that lets me know I'm on the extender, and if I dial #48 a message repeats telling me I'm on my extender. The manual says it uses 120kps per active channel.

I'm torn between my having to improve their service in my little dip in the earth and at least having the ability to do so. It occurred to me they should put femtocells in all FiOS broadband routers; they might be able to do away with cell towers in many places.

I wandered out of range (apartment parking lot) of my femtocell while on a conference call, and the audio kept cutting out while on the main cell. When I came back in range it didn't reconnect to my femtocell until about a minute after my call dropped from bad signal.

I'm not sure if that means in won't hop to the femtocell while a call is in progress or if it just takes time.