One week after I bought my Hero, I found out it is possible to install a newer radio-firmware on the HTC Hero. This has all kinds of positive improvements such as better reception and better battery life. I don’t know where these radio updates come from (I guess from HTC themselves), but they aren’t published on the HTC website. You can find them at the xda-developers forums (currently, there is a newer update that is not listed in that thread) and they can be installed by saving them to the SD card of your Hero as “update.zip”. Next, turn off your phone and turn it on again by holding home+poweron. Enjoy the better reception and battery life!