Review by BellSouthBS
Good "Good Speed, Latency, No RF interference from other 4Gs, allows VPN, **supports NETFLIX SUPER HD & NETFLIX 3D**"
- Location: Fort Lauderdale,Broward,FL
- Cost: $49 per month
- Install: about 3 days
Bad "Required outdoor antenna for top speeds. CRITICAL ANTENNA PLACEMENT"
Overall "If you find an unobstructed path to the tower, this service is great"
|Pre Sales Information:|
Value for money:
I never thought I would ever be writing a review that was favorable to CLEAR, because the towers were quite far away, and because of so many bad reviews.
I had just received a call from OMGFAST, saying that they were not doing any new installs, and they were taking me off their list. I still needed a backup internet provider, so I reluctantly called the number on one of the CLEAR advertisements I received. The girl at the other end was not that familiar with the tech end of the product, but since I am a consultant for microwave communications systems, and fully licensed by the Federal Communications Commission, this is my forte.
I received the equipment on Monday, a day early. It came in a green box that said Plug Me In. I did, and finally found a spot that gave me 1 bar of signal strength. I expected this, and my heart sank. Throughput varied from 2 to 3 megabits down. I called tech support, and asked to be transferred to tier 3, and wasted quite a bit of time having to explain to people why I needed exact tower locations. Finally I was transferred to tier 3. I got the latitude and longitude of a few towers near me, then used "Google Earth" to plot these paths from the towers to my home. I used "properties" to elevate each path about 20 feet in the air to see what NEARBY trees and houses might be in the way. On the second tower, I WON THE LOTTERY. I had virtually no obstructions between my house and the Flamingo Road tower, but the antenna pattern for my sector from that tower was not aimed directly in my direction, which was like trying to see the side of a road at midnight, with the car headlights pointed in a slightly different direction.
Google Earth showed I had a virtually unobstructed path to a tower that was 1.69 miles away. The next day I took an extension cord and the CLEAR modem up on the roof, and started looking for a "sweet spot." This turned out to be in the back of the house, with 3 bars, compared to the peak in the center of the house, which only gave me 2 bars. I looked on the internet, and found the modem IP to be 192.168.15.1 and put that IP address in my browser. I did not need the password, as the modem displayed both signal level (RSSI) and Signal to Noise (CINR a.k.a. the Ratio of the Carrier divided by the level of Interference *plus* the Noise caused by man-made and electrical noise plus what was generated in the receiver itself.),
Basically stated, the incoming signal should be 20 times greater than all the noise and interference that the receiver sees, or generates internally, and the CINR is the formula that provides a number (db) corresponding to how good the signal is. This number is given in a logarithm of base 10, so going from a CINR measurement of 10 db to 30 db is actually an improvement of 100 times! A 20 db or better signal to noise ratio is quite good for digital microwave reception.
Dish antennas concentrate the incoming power to a small area, and the feedpoint is located at that point. A 20 db gain antenna concentrates 100 times the power and sends it to the receiver (modem). That is why an outside antenna is helpful or sometimes necessary if you can't see the tower out of your back window.
The most helpful thing is height. Since radio signals at 2.5 GHz have characteristics similar to light, they lose around 10% or more of their strength passing through a small tree, and up to 50% passing through dense Maple, Bischofia, or pine trees. Concrete walls and reinforced glass (contains metal) also reduce signal strength, along with wooden roofs with certain types of shingles. If you can get a clear path to the tower, between or above the trees and surrounding houses, you will be rewarded with the highest possible speeds, assuming the tower has the capacity to handle the bandwidth. Unfortunately, I already noticed signs that the tower I am pointed at needs more bandwidth, and the one that is closer to me bogs down during rush hour and early evening.
I just happened to have a clear path, starting at the very edge of the back of my house, so I mounted a 20 db gain grid dish antenna (one that my company makes). The CLEAR modem requires an "RP-SMA MALE" (not female) connector to connect to an outside antenna. Without the antenna and with the modem on the roof, I had a signal level of -75 dbm, with an unacceptable CINR of 8. This typically happens when you are receiving two or more towers operating on the same frequency, or if you are receiving multiple signals from the same tower's transmitter, which bounce off reflective surfaces and buildings. This is called multipath, and a highly directional antenna will get rid of all these reflected signals, and only let the main signal through. With a large grid dish antenna connected to the modem on the roof, I manually rotated the dish antenna, and the signal peaked at -55 dbm, with a CINR of 30. I brought the modem inside the house, connected low-loss cable between the outside antenna and the modem, and the CLEAR signal level dropped about 3 db to an RSSI of -58 db. The CINR was still a respectable 28, so I started running some tests.
What I was most concerned about was packet jitter. CLEAR packet jitter ranged from 6.5 to 7.5 milliseconds, which is very good for VOIP (internet telephone). An NDT server reported C2S packet queuing, so no packets were received out of order, although this did seem to negatively affect both "REGISTER" and "INVITE" timing. Latency to the tower could not be read because of either a firewall, or the first hop was not pingable, but the next hop could be read, and that hop averaged 80 ms LATENCY. AT&T's 4G latency averaged about 120 ms. It should be noted that best "Round Trip" ping latency has been around 60 milliseconds, which is very good for a wireless network.
I ran my speed tests using a server in Indianapolis Indiana from my home in Fort Lauderdale Florida, which is a little over 1000 miles distant. Speeds ranged from a low of about 8 Mb on the downlink and 995 k up, to a high of about 15 mb down, with most tests falling around 10 mb down. There were a few hiccups, and only once in 4 days did the modem disconnect and reconnect automatically. Although the service is relatively expensive, costing considerably more than AT&T's DSL but slightly less than AT&T's 4G Wireless service (although it can't compete with a properly working LTE system), I have to give it high technical marks. From the standpoint of a total home internet service for me and my family, CLEAR is clearly the winner, if it can provide more capacity.
"Rain Fade/Scatter" and attenuation from the signal passing through wet foliage in a heavy rainstorm is virtually non existent at my location because of path clearance, and amounted to a signal strength loss of about 3 dbm (RSSI dropped to -61 dbm), and reduced the signal to noise ratio a mere 1 db, from 28 db to 27 db. There are many television stations that would envy a Studio-Transmitter Link (STL) this solid, and with such a good fade margin.
I recently found out that Sprint now owns 100% of CLEAR/Clearwire, thanks to Billion$ of dollars of cash from a Japanese lender. Sprint is shutting down their Nextel/iDen 800 MHz service, and replacing it with the super-fast 800 MHz LTE Service. In the meantime, it will be using CLEARWIRE frequencies in the 2.5 MHz band to beef up their 4G service. Hopefully they will reserve the 2.5 GHz Band for data only, instead of trying to multiplex it and use both voice and data over the same channel, a move that would make the 2.5 GHz service useless for VOIP and Video, not to mention lost packets and high data overhead.
CLEAR (Clearwire) is a member of the NETFLIX Content Delivery Network (CDN) and is the only way I can watch *NETFLIX SUPER HD* or *NETFLIX 3D* programming in my area. COMCAST, AT&T, and FIOS cannot deliver NETFLIX advanced Super HD or 3D services.
>>> UPDATE: Friday, the 13th day of September, 2013. Service is great with no disconnects. I use VOIP for my home phones, and call quality has been the best I've ever had. There really are no caps, and Netflix 3D (12 mb/s stream) is great, even while the kids are playing games on their computers.
>>> UPDATE: Saturday, Sept 14th, 2013. Had Comcast 50 mb/s installed on 30 day trial. COMCAST BLOCKS NETFLIX SUPER HD & NETFLIX 3D !! I will be cancelling Comcrap and keeping CLEAR for as long as I can. I cannot receive NETFLIX in SUPER HD or 3D with Comcrap.
This is the best speed I was able to get with CLEAR Wireless at my location using an outside gain antenna:
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updated 182 days ago