Recently I went to visit my parents who happen to live a bit of Vodafone blackspot - if I'm lucky I can get a bar or two while indoors. This provided a perfect opportunity to splash out on a Vodafone Sure Signal 3G femtocell which should give me 5 bars of coverage.
The femtocell is about the same size as some of the larger ADSL modem routers and is a fairly simple install. To configure the device you have to log in to your Vodafone account on Vodafone's website and tell Vodafone where the phone is and what mobile phones will be allowed access. Other than that you should just have to plug in a lit up ethernet cable and wait. However, I ended up waiting a bit longer than I should have because Vodafone doesn't include any information on what firewall ports need to be opened up. I think they're relying on UPNP to open the firewall up (which if it works should mean just plug it in, wait a bit and go), but if for whatever reason that doesn't work you're left to some googleing to find the right settings.
Once everything was configured and running I got the full strength signal exactly as promised. Call quality was exactly like a normal cell phone call (I didn't run into any delay or echo problems that I've sometimes had with VOIP -> POTS services). I think that's what impressed me most about it - it actually delivers what is says it will deliver.
One other thing that as a software developer who uses a lot of open source software brought some joy - there was a piece of paper stating that open source software was used and said source is available on Vodafone's subversion repository. I really should check out what's there at some point.
Note to self - firewall settings
In order to save myself some pain from trying to find this page again:
Destination IP Addresses:
Ports and Protocols:
Port 50 - TCP/IP
Port 4500 - UDP
Port 500 - UDP