When an antenna isn't quite enough, an amplifier can definitely be a valuable signal boosting tool. Another benefit to using a WIRELESS amplifier (AKA "repeater") is that you can wirelessly boost the signal to multiple cellular devices (cell phone, aircards, etc) at once without having to directly connect to any of the devices!
For those who don't need "all the time" internet and can't justify the $60/mo contract for 2 years, tethering definitely is a great and AFFORDABLE option. Cellular internet is available virtually anywhere you have cell phone coverage (some areas may not have the high-speed 3G broadband network, but you'll still be able to connect to the slower speed network in more rural spots). Several carriers offer tethering (AKA "phone as modem") packages, but Verizon and Sprint will be your best bet thanks to their nationwide coverage. Here's the pricing breakdown for Sprint and Verizon tethering: Sprint: *Tethering fee: $15/month * Requirements: Compatible phone AND Sprint Power Vision data pack ($30/month) or Blackberry data pack ($30/month) * Restrictions: CANNOT be added to the "Simply Everything" or "Everything" plans. Verizon: * Tethering fee: o With standard (non-PDA) phone: $59.99/mo o With PDA/Blackberry and $29.99/mo data pack: $30/mo o With PDA/Blackberry and $44.99/mo data pack: $15/mo * Requirements: Compatible phone * Restrictions: None