Clear brings 4G Wimax to Charlotte, an in-depth look | CLT Blog
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Clear brings 4G Wimax to Charlotte, an in-depth look

Posted on 2 Nov 2009 by Justin Ruckman

video © Clear; watch this video on YouTube

If you attended BarCamp 2 or Musak’s Brainery event in Charlotte recently, you’ve already used it.

Clear launched their 4G Wimax network in Charlotte this week. We’ve been given a chance to test their service for a few weeks now, and offer everyone a sneak peek on performance around town.

What does 4G mean? From our experience, it means near-cable-like internet speeds all around town, without being tethered to a wifi hotspot. And at prices comparable to the cable company as well. Needless to say we’re impressed.

Read on for our photo review including prices, and how you can help CLT Blog if you happen to be interested in signing up for new Clear service.

The basics

Clear is in partnership with a number of industry players, including Time Warner, Sprint, Intel and Google. As such, the same 4G offerings will be resold by both Time Warner and Sprint, using their own branding — much like Earthlink used to do with Time Warner. Sprint in particular is already taking a pretty proactive approach by hosting a Tweetup w/ Social Media Charlotte tonight.

Starting next month a massive ad campaign will roll out in the Charlotte area, including TV & radio spots, print and online advertising, and Clear-branded mobile offices driving around town with people working online inside.

Here’s a few of the TV spots to come:

The gear

Clear offers 4 different products: a standalone modem, a USB keyfob modem, a VOIP adapter and a mobile Wi-Fi access point.

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The standalone unit is designed to take the place of a standard DSL or cable modem. It plugins into the wall for power, and displays its signal level using lights that run along the top.

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The USB modem plugins directly into your computer, like the mobile internet devices you’re used to seeing from the cell phone companies.

All of these devices connect to Clear’s 4G Wimax network, which runs throughout the Charlotte metro area, from lake to lake. They’re also in a number of other metropolitan areas including Atlanta, Philadelphia, Portland, and rolling out along the same time as Charlotte: Greensboro and Raleigh. Clear is rolling out coverage all over the country, with many more locations becoming available throughout 2010 and beyond. Check out the coverage map on Clear’s website.

The speed

The difference here is speed. Clear advertises up to 6 Mbps downloads and 1 Mbps uploads. From our experience this is more or less accurate. With a full signal on campus at UNC Charlotte, we got almost 5 Mbps. At our home studio in Wesley Heights with a half signal, we get around 3 Mbps. Average upload speed at both locations was around .25-.35 Mbps, which is plenty for a good-quality video stream.

This is comparable to your standard Road Runner cable account. And even though I have the $10/mo. extra Road Runner Turbo account, I still only get marginally faster uploads, averaging around .5 Mbps.

The plans

Starting tomorrow, plans will be as follows:

Basic Home — $25/mo.
Standalone modem, speed capped at 1 Mbps down, 500 Kbps up
Fast Home — $35/mo.
Standalone modem, speed capped at 3 Mbps down, 1 Mbps up
Faster Home — $45/mo.
Standalone modem, uncapped speed
2GB Mobile — $35/mo.
USB modem, uncapped speed, limited to 2GB/mo. usage
Unlimited Mobile — $45/mo.
USB modem, uncapped speed & usage
Day Pass — $10
USB modem, uncapped speed, good for 24 hours

Their VOIP Adapter lets you use your connection for phone calls, including the ability to port your existing number over. It sells for $25/mo.

They also sell a mobile WiFi hub that plugs into one of their USB modems. It runs between $150200 for the hardware as a one-time purchase, and works both on it’s 4-hour battery, ad plugged into power.

There are three plans that let you combine some of the various options and save money overall:

Voice Bundle — $50/mo
Standalone modem + VOIP adapter; speed capped at 3 Mbps down, 1 Mbps up; unlimited use and unlimited local + long distance calls
Pick 2 Unlimited — $55/mo
Any 2 devices, uncapped speed and usage
Pick 3 Unlimited — $75/mo
Any 3 devices, uncapped speed and usage

And for travelers, they offer a 4G/3G combo card that works on Clear’s 4G Wimax network, and switches to work on Sprint’s 3G network when out of range. This plan uses a more advanced USB key and sells for $70/mo.

How to try and/or buy

Clear has partnered with CLT Blog to offer their services directly to our readers, and contribute to CLT Blog in the process. If you’re interested in trying and/or buying one of these devices, drop us a line in the comments, or submit your info via the form below. Any purchases made through CLT Blog’s referral earns us a fairly substantial commission, which we’ll use to grow our site and services. Not to mention, we can get you $20 off your first month in return.

Proceeds earned will go towards growing CLT Blog, paying for equipment, and compensating our more active contributers.

We think it’s a pretty good deal for you and for us, we wouldn’t be talking about it here otherwise. If Clear’s new offerings interest you, and you’re thinking about buying or upgrading your mobile internet service, consider helping us out along the way. :-)

We’ll be talking about Clear from time to time in the future, especially during some of our live video streams. In the meantime, we’re curious what you think.

Comments

  1. Joshua James 2 Nov 2009 at 6:48 PM

    I think you got a typo there on your Fast Home – $35/mo. upload speed. 1 Kbps ain’t that fast. 😉

  2. Tim Taylor 2 Nov 2009 at 6:52 PM

    looks cool. Think I’ll stick with Time Warner, though. 17 Mbps download is hard to give up. http://www.speedtest.net/result/610555383.png

    • Avatar of Justin Ruckman
      Justin Ruckman 2 Nov 2009 at 7:00 PM

      I have the same turbo package at my house, but I mostly end up using that bandwidth for torrents. I’m investing a little monthly income into a off-site seedbox to handle all of that, and freeing up my home connection for surfing.

      And for the price of turbo Road Runner minus the monthly cost of a seedbox, I can still get both a standalone Clear modem and a USB key. Not a bad deal for my use anyway. And when I’m at home, I can connect to both the standalone modem via wifi and the USB key simultaneously.

      • Christopher Henderson 2 Nov 2009 at 7:43 PM

        And also with the option of no contract. And in my experience so far much better customer service.

  3. Erik Button 2 Nov 2009 at 6:53 PM

    Sell outs.

  4. Christopher Henderson 2 Nov 2009 at 6:55 PM

    Had it for about a week in Charlotte and I love it. http://www.speedtest.net/result/607730793.png not too shabby. How would one go about becoming a reseller?

    • Avatar of Justin Ruckman
      Justin Ruckman 2 Nov 2009 at 7:10 PM

      You want to talk to Clear. I can put you in touch if you drop me a line: [email protected].

    • Joe 20 Nov 2009 at 9:24 PM

      Hi,

      I am a reseller and would like to talk to you about joining out team. Having the product helps you sell it, and the commissions aren’t to bad either.

      My email is [email protected] or call me at 8034484325 my name is Joe.

  5. PJ Mullen 2 Nov 2009 at 10:28 PM

    I’ve been a Clear/Clearwire customer for about 17 months now. They upgraded our modems to prepare for this rollout two months ago. The service up to that point had been ok, nothing great and certainly no where near there quoted speed rates and I’ve run numerous speed tests. The past three weeks, however, have been horrendous. I’ve been knocked off the internet every twenty minutes or so. They can’t give me a reason why. I’m tempted to buy out my contract (I don’t know if this is still the case, but I locked into a 24 month contract after a test period and unfortunately have 7 months left) and go back to TWC, as much as I am loathe to give them another dollar of my money. I need more reliable net access and this upgrade has been anything but for me with no explanation.

    • Avatar of Justin Ruckman
      Justin Ruckman 2 Nov 2009 at 10:33 PM

      Interesting. I’d say in their defense that for the past two months they’ve still been tweaking their network. But I haven’t experienced getting kicked off like you mention. Maybe now that the network is public things will be smoother? I’d definitely follow up with them again now that the network is officially launched.

    • billy 20 Nov 2009 at 8:54 PM

      i can confirm really poor service. i’m in south charlotte and have been having terrible bandwidth issues for the past 3 weeks. when i said terrible, i’ve been getting 290 kbps down regularly. they are sending a technician out in a couple of days, hopefully to add more stacks to the towers.

      • Avatar of Justin Ruckman
        Justin Ruckman 25 Nov 2009 at 8:39 PM

        There *are* still some weak spots around town. But that’s not the norm, and it’s improving. We installed a trio of modems over at Lightbulb Coworking last week, and they were getting around 12 Mbps down and 1 Mb up. That’s actually a faster upload than the fastest in town: Road Runner Turbo; and just a hair slower download.

        We can have someone come out and test modem strength at your place, FWIW. If anyone’s curious.

  6. Matt Wallace 11 Dec 2009 at 7:26 PM

    I am desperately in need of help. I have basic roadrunner from timewarner. I’m testing Clear right now and just cannot decide which is faster. Speedtest says Clear is around 7 Mbps and Timewarner is 5 Mbps. But I’m experiencing more reliable speed from Timewarner. I personally feel TW is overpriced and a monopoly.

    Any thoughts? From anyone?

  7. Jeremy 10 Nov 2010 at 3:53 PM

    Looking into Clearwire … any recommendations if it is any good for gaming … Mainly xbox 360?
    If not how about time warner?

  8. Jeremy 10 Nov 2010 at 3:54 PM

    How does clear wire look for gaming? xbox360

  9. Tyler 14 Dec 2009 at 3:35 PM

    Just wanted to share with the world…couldn’t be happier with the reliability and speed of our new Clear system here at Lightbulb Coworking.

    Thanks to Justin and Matt for getting us up and running…