"The network extender really does work."4.0 starson by mr4523mr
Pros: Greatly improved cell signal
Cons: One more electronic box to clutter your desk (but it's not a big deal)
Lack of wireless router connection
Summary: In decided whether to purchase the network extender, I relied heavily on all of you who wrote user reviews (thank you, everyone!) and figured it's only fair that I should add my own review. I live in a hilly area of Los Angeles where cell service is spotty and inconsistent. At home, I usually have 1 bar or no bars, and there are rooms where I could hear the other person but they couldn't hear me.
The network extender was ridiculously easy the set up. I simply removed it from the box, connected the ethernet cable to my router, plugged in the power cord and placed the device on my desk near a window. The Power and WAN LEDs glowed solid blue, and the GPS and System lights began blinking red. It took about 5-10 minutes for the device to lock onto GPS, at which time the GPS LED glowed a steady blue. The System LED continued to blink red for another few minutes (causing a momentary panic -- Why isn't it working?!), but then glowed solid blue.
I opened my phone and waited for something magical to happen. After a second or two, I waved the phone in front of the network extender (probably not required, but it made me feel part of the process) and a few seconds later, my phone showed 4 bars!
Naturally, I immediately made a call. (During calls, the WAN LED blinks blue.) As the guide said, I hear short double tone after I dialed the number. (You can also dial #48 to get automated confirmation that you are connected through the network extender.) The call connected immediately, and both ends of the conversation were loud and clear, with none of the slight latency a few others have reported. I walked through every room of my house (an old house with thick plaster walls which can really dampen wireless signals) and then outside and into the detached garage (a spot in which I could usually hear the other party, but they couldn't hear me). While the number of bars went down the further I got from the network extender (and the more plaster walls came between the network extender and the phone), the call continued uninterrupted with no noticeable loss in quality.
I went on verizonwireless.com (under the My Services tab on the top of the My Verizon page) and "My Network Extender" was in the list. I changed the access from "Open Access (Unrestricted") to the recommended "Managed Access (Prioritized)," although I don't think it will make a big difference since no one outside my house is probably close enough to connect to the network extender anyway. As soon as I clicked Managed Access, the System LED started blinking red again. After a few minutes, it still hadn't turned blue, so I did what I always do in such situations: I unplugged the thing and plugged it back it. It took a few minutes for the GPS to lock on and turn solid blue, but then all was fine again.
The bottom line is, I agree with all the others who said, "This thing works." Yeah, it's $249, but that's a one-time cost and since it makes the cell signal functional and reliable, I think it's more than worth it. The fact that there is no monthly fee (as some other services charge for similar devices) is also a big plus in my book.
My next step is to take the network extender to the east coast, where I have no cell service whatsoever. If this works there (and I have no reason to think it won't), I will finally be able to cut off the very expensive landline!