Clearwire’s fixed wireless service has traditionally seen poor reviews from our users. Enter the company’s Mobile WiMax ambitions, fueled by a new joint-venture with Sprint that’s now got corporate backing from such industry giants such as Google, Intel and Comcast.
So how are users responding to the freshly-funded Clear Mobile WiMax service, which the company promises to deploy to 80 markets in 18 months? Not particularly well, according to our latest user reviews and forum comments.
Except showcase tests of 6-7 Mbps seen in the Clear retail store weren’t anywhere to be found, after one of our Texas readers got the new service home to discover high pings and sub 1 Mbps speeds. Still, happy customers are traditionally more quiet, and interestingly, reviews of Sprint XOHM (which is now part of the Clear brand) seem slightly better.
The proof is in the pudding. I’ve used Clear service since it became available in Portland, December 2, 2008. It’s my sole internet connection — if it doesn’t work, I don’t post.
I signed up for their 2-year deal after 3 months of reliable service. I pay for one unlimited 6Mbps (mobile) service at $50/month and got a 2nd connection (an unlimited 6Mbps home modem) for just $5/month more. Plus another $5/mo for equipment rental of each modem.
I shot the video (above) today in Portland, showing more than 9Mbps on a Netbook using a USB WiMAX modem. At home I typically get about half that. I must have been near a tower.
Clear’s WiMAX service in Portland seems about as reliable as my previous DSL or Cable modem service. I haven’t experienced any major problems or outages. I live downtown, but suspect the latest 802.16e spec helps deliver a stable signal.
Clear is NOT a cellular company (which I like). It uses TDD (like WiFi), so one channel isn’t “listening” all the time. Cellular’s frequency division seems like a waste of space (and money) to me.
I don’t have any “backdoor” deals or hidden ad contracts with Clear. I just like the service. It works for me.
In PC World’s 13 city 3G test, AT&T, Sprint and Verizon averaged around 800 Kbps. Cellular has a 5 Gig monthly cap, which makes it impractical as a DSL replacement, and costs $60/month with a 2 year contract. Sprint’s combo 4G/3G data plans (below) cost $69.99 per month, $10 more than comparable 3G-only plans.
Sprint is expected to track Clearwire’s launches closely with its own 3G-to-4G roaming service. When you roam outside WiMAX coverage, Sprint automatically switches to their 3G data service. I haven’t tried Sprint’s roaming service because I use an Android phone on T-Mobile’s pre-paid voice service. No mobile data. Clear’s Mobile Hotspot can provide Wi-Fi around town.
Craig Mathias, principal analyst at Farpoint Group, believes that LTE could get up to 80% of the global market share in future cellular installations. “This leaves WiMax with a potential market share that cannot exceed 20%.” Apparently Mathias doesn’t consider DSL replacement into his calculations. ABI predicts that there will be at best 34 million LTE users at the end of 2011, with perhaps twice as many WiMax users, around 80 million. HSPA currently has some 160 million subscribers, worldwide.
LTE will be the cellular choice, but it’s unlikely to replace DSL due to higher costs, constrained spectrum, and data caps. WiMAX will be the preferred choice of data-centric, new market entrants, due to availability, a simpler, more “open” architecture (similar to Wi-Fi), cheaper gear and new licensed and unlicensed bands (white spaces, 700MHz, 2.1, 2.3, 2.6, 5GHz, etc).
Both LTE and WiMAX have the right stuff to succeed (and evolve).
Related Dailywireless articles on Clear include; Clearwire’s Launch Party in Portland, Clear Launches Mobile WiMAX in Las Vegas, Atlanta Gets Mobile WiMAX, Xohm Marks the Spot, Clear’s Portland WiMAX Coverage Mapped, Sprint’s WiMAX Rollout, Sprint and Comcast Reselling Clear Service, Clear Launches 10 New Markets, Doubles Upload Speed, WiMAX: Passive/Aggresive?, Clearwire in Portland, Clearwire: Let’s be “Clear”, Green Light for New Clearwire, Clearwire: Show Us the Money, Future Bleak for WiMAX?, Korea’s WiBro in Trouble? and WiMAX Showdown in Texas