I believe there is a bug in the signal strength indication on the Fascinate, the one that shows the signal strength in -dBm.
You can see the signal strength of the cell signal on the Menu, Settings, About, Status screen. Or you can place a widget on your Home screen. There are several widgets available, I'm using Mobile Signal Widget.
I have a network extender, which basically creates a cell tower right in your home. With my Motorola Droid, I used to get signal strengths down to about -50 something and 60's in indicated signal strength. I can hold both of our Fascinates right next to the network extender's antenna and they will read no better than -86 dBm. So far I've seen signal strengths from -86 dBm to -106 dBm (terrible).
I believe there is a bug in the software (Baseband) on the Fascinate. Previously, I thought the hardware (antenna/radio) wasn't very good, but now it may be software related.
Has anyone seen a signal strength stronger than -86 dBm on the Fascinate?
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As mentioned in the OP, I'm using the network extender, which operates in only the 1x band. However, I have very poor signal at my home (both 1x and EvDO) which is why I'm using a network extender.
With the network extender, I should be getting full bars of 1x signal, which I am on the Fascinate. However, the issue here is that the signal strength in -dBm does not reflect this. The Fascinate doesn't display what the EvDO signal strength is on the Status screen, but I expect it to be much worse than -86dBm.
Also, the Fascinate reports the signal strength in increments of 5 dBm.
My Fascinate was getting -91, -96, -101, -16, -101, -96 dBm.
So, in addition to not going down below -86 dBm, and fluctuating widely, it also only reports signal strengths in 5 dBm increments instead of the 1 dBm increments that I;ve seen in every other phone I've ever owned.