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Customers Unhappy With Early Clearwire Launches
Poor customer support, low speeds, and high latency...
by Karl Bode 02:04PM Thursday Sep 17 2009
We've been watching WiMax backer Intel's marketing department drum up deafening hype about the technology for the better part of a decade, initially calling WiMax "the most important thing since the Internet itself." This resulted in a lot of unskeptical but bubbly news reports, starting in 2004, proclaiming that WiMax was a cable and DSL competitor before it had even really left the development gate. Half a decade later finds Clearwire as the only major U.S. player in the Mobile WiMax space, with barely a handful of major launch markets under their belt.

Click for full size
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.

The mobile version of Clearwire's service comes in multiple flavors, all of which offer on average 4Mbps/384kbps connectivity, but with different bandwidth caps. The company has been playing with pricing, currently offering (at least in Portland) a $35 Mobile plan with a 2GB cap (and a whopping $10 each additional gigabyte), a $45 unlimited plan, a $10 day pass, or a $80 a month unlimited nationwide plan. The company also offers uncapped home plans of 1Mbps/512kbps for $25, and 3Mbps/1Mbps for $30.

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. "I'll keep them around seeing as how Charter is the absolute pits but this is completely pathetic," says the user. Other reviews out of Texas are similar, with some users actually complaining about worse performance than Clearwire's fixed wireless service. Portland and Boise area customers are also complaining of sub-1 Mbps speeds.

Meanwhile, technical users complain that the Motorola modem Clearwire's using for the new Clear service doesn't allow the user to disable NAT or run a traceroute, something that could be fixed by firmware update.

While Clearwire has insisted they aren't competing with giants like AT&T and Verizon, that's wishful thinking, and the two giants' LTE ambitions loom large on the horizon before they've even been built. Customers on the bleeding edge often experience these kinds of issues, but Clearwire has less time than they think to establish a happy customer base, and early anecdotal impressions aren't looking particularly good. Still, happy customers are traditionally more quiet, and interestingly, reviews of Sprint XOHM (which is now part of the Clear brand) seem slightly better.

Any fixed or Mobile WiMax Clearwire customers interested in adding their experiences in our comment section below?

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page: 1 · 2
glinc

join:2009-04-07
New York, NY

haha

so much for 4G right??? watch those billions invested go down the drain.

Hpower
Roflmao

join:2000-06-08
Glendale, CA

Re: haha

Exactly what I thought. So much for WiMax and all the hype.
--
The Internet is about to go down....it is actually.

Matt3
All noise, no signal.
Premium
join:2003-07-20
Jamestown, NC
kudos:12

1 edit

Pre-WiMAX

Clear has offered Pre-WiMAX in this area for years and it's consistently been awful. They also have any sort of network diagnostics blocked, so I can't perform any ICMP/TCP network discovery. Latency has been high, speeds fluctuate so much that watching YouTube is hit or miss, and unless you stand on one foot while holding the modem at a 45 degree angle to the closest available window and your opposing arm at a 90 degree angle to the plane of the earth, your signal quality is terrible.

The speedtest.net screenshot is eerily similar to what I'd see on their 1.5Mbps package when I could actually get a speedtest to complete.

mrkevin
Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers.
Premium
join:2007-08-07
Aurora, ME

no tracert

They don't let you run a trace route...that's funny
I can see why with a ping of 504ms
--
An army of sheep led by a lion, will always defeat an army of lions led by a sheep.

en102
Canadian, eh?

join:2001-01-26
Valencia, CA

Re: no tracert

I take it that Skype won't work (well or at all) on ~500ms latency.
VoIP should be --
Canada = Hollywood North

mrkevin
Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers.
Premium
join:2007-08-07
Aurora, ME

1 edit

Re: no tracert

said by en102:

I take it that Skype won't work (well or at all) on ~500ms latency.
VoIP should be --
Canada = Hollywood North
That's the time it takes the ping packet to bounce off the far end. With a time of 504ms i would say your.................................voip.................
........would.........................sound......
.......like.....................................this.
--
An army of sheep led by a lion, will always defeat an army of lions led by a sheep.

en102
Canadian, eh?

join:2001-01-26
Valencia, CA

Re: no tracert

I've attempted to run Skype over DSL/Cable, through a VPN tunnel, over an SSH portforwarded tunnel to a Squid proxy.

It _did_ work, however, latency itself was +100ms on a 'good' day, and was very broken up during the call. Skype is very robust (Magic Jack wouldn't even work).
--
Canada = Hollywood North
rradina

join:2000-08-08
Chesterfield, MO

Re: no tracert

Not sure why you or mrkevin think high pings would make a VOIP call "break up" or cause pauses between words.

Breaking up is likely the result of packet loss. High pings should simply cause an uncomfortable pause between when you stop speaking and the person on the other end would hear you stop speaking. This is similar to the problem that news programs have when they try to do live interviews over a satellite uplink. The latency makes "real time" discussions painful.

mrkevin
Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers.
Premium
join:2007-08-07
Aurora, ME

Re: no tracert

said by rradina:

Not sure why you or mrkevin think high pings would make a VOIP call "break up" or cause pauses between words.

Breaking up is likely the result of packet loss. High pings should simply cause an uncomfortable pause between when you stop speaking and the person on the other end would hear you stop speaking. This is similar to the problem that news programs have when they try to do live interviews over a satellite uplink. The latency makes "real time" discussions painful.
The high ping times could be a result of packet loss somewhere in the network.
--
An army of sheep led by a lion, will always defeat an army of lions led by a sheep.
BosstonesOwn

join:2002-12-15
Wakefield, MA
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS
Ive used Skype over wimax in South America and In Europe , never seen the problems that they are having here.

Normal wimax in other countrys had a ping time of 180 to 250 to the backbone and usually 300 or so to the us , I'd like to know where these folks are routing all thier traffic to see these ping times.
--
"It's always funny until someone gets hurt......and then it's absolutely friggin' hysterical!"
kaila

join:2000-10-11
Lincolnshire, IL

What the heck are they doing differently.....

to screw things up compared with their deployments elsewhere? I used them over a year ago in Ireland, where they've got an amazing amount of the country covered. Speeds were always between 2~3.5Mbps, very reasonable latency, and 18 euro for a months worth of service.
--
Jeff Howe
Jeff's Blog - »www.jeffhowe.net

Quake110
Premium
join:2003-12-20
Ottawa, ON

Re: What the heck are they doing differently.....

I guess they should fire the US division. Because this an utter PR failure.

en102
Canadian, eh?

join:2001-01-26
Valencia, CA

Re: What the heck are they doing differently.....

Just like UMTS/HSPA... everything that tends to be a 'global' standard doesn't work nearly as well in the US /Canada as it does elsewhere.
--
Canada = Hollywood North
sonicmerlin

join:2009-05-24
Cleveland, OH
kudos:1
The US has extremely lax telecommunications regulations, allowing companies to compete in a race to the bottom type of service.

SteveLV702
Premium
join:2004-04-22
Las Vegas, NV

Add Las Vegas to the list

You can add Las Vegas to that list of horrible speeds and performance

here is my best speed test to date..

»www.speedtest.net/result/567871071.png
cptmiles
Premium
join:2004-04-22
Swayzee, IN

Frequency

Does anyone know what frequency they are using in other countries? In the U.S. they are using 2.5Ghz I believe, which does a lot of "bouncing" and not a lot of wall and foliage penetration. I don't know how they have everything back-hauled, which is probably the main issue, but the frequency may add to the inherent problems.

It may be the vendor equipment too. Whatever it is they are definitely making the LTE camp giddy.

JKM

join:2009-06-08
Seymour, MO

2 edits

Customers Unhappy With Early Clearwire Launches

IMHO, in the US, it is the same problem all ISPs face that makes Clearwire perform poorer than in other countries. I'm not a Clearwire fan and I'm not an expert. But I don't think that any form of broadband can reach it's potential in this great country until we get an infrastructure that will support the last mile deployments. That infrastructure will have to be open and competitively priced to work. It can't be controlled by the privileged few who strive to stifle competition.

In support of this opinion, I respectfully submit this link.

»telephonyonline.com/3g4g/news/cl···ml?imw=Y

EDIT: When a startup WISP has to pay in excess of $300.00 per month per MB, plus tower rental ($350.00 per month) and equipment to backhaul the bandwidth ($300.00-$17,000.00 depending on your upgrade requirements) you can see that the middle mile infrastructure is just not there for anybody. For me, use has to exceed 40 MB per month on a 3-5 year contract to get below $100.00 per MB!
--
Begin with the end in mind!


EDIT 2: Keep in mind the costs in the above edit do not include costs for access points or customer premise equipment. No provision for admin or tech support or capex and on and on. The owners of the middle mile infrastructure do not intend to face any serious competition. We can only hope that the excessive spending of the ARRA will bring forth some Middle Mile Providers that will be forced under the terms of the grant/loan to have an open and competitve network. This should in turn force the self-serving providers to lower their prices.

IMHO, even the best intentioned ISP is up against a wall. When you add shareholders, it can only snowball the problem. I'm not sure Clearwire has the best of intentions but I know I do.

I find myself fighting a battle that can't be won, to supply value priced broadband Internet to rural customers in my area. My business plan was born of necessity. I set up a home network 3 years ago and still have dialup. I realized it was an opportunity as many others were in the same situation. As I worked on it more it became a cause. I believe it has been elevated to an obsession now.

Anyway, I'll put up the soapbox. I just don't think the general public understands what a stumbling block the middle mile providers are to the end user. The technology is far ahead of the middle mile infrastructure. I know I would hook everyone up with a big pipe, if I could get the bandwidth at a price that would make resale lucrative to the end user.

60127178
K.U. Sweet 16
Premium
join:2001-02-15
Wichita, KS
kudos:1

Reminds me of....

the old days.
danielr83

join:2007-05-25
Fresno, CA

Re: Reminds me of....

Is that Sprint Wireless Broadband? LOL
squison

join:2001-07-07
Decatur, GA

Separate forums..

BBR: Can we get a separate forum / ISP review list for Wimax (Clear) and 3g (Clearwire) service? Browsing the forum/reviews is annoying as half the time you can't tell which service the user is talking about. Some of the reviews linked are for their 3g service.
West SV

join:2009-07-11
Mount Vernon, WA

Unhappy with NEW 'Clear'

I had the old Clearwire for over 5 years. Liked it a lot. It worked for me. Was sent the NEW 'Clear' modem over a month ago. It is a lot slower, if and when t works. Have been told 'Sorry, we can't make it any better, you are to far away'
mr911189

join:2009-09-02
Amarillo, TX

its not bad for me

i get 50 ms ping and 10 to 15 megabits down and 2 megabits up in amarillo texas im on the 10 down and 1 up i have 3 of 5 bars of signal on the modem
hottboiinnc
ME

join:2003-10-15
Cleveland, OH

Re: its not bad for me

see happy customers do exist. but NEVER on this site. You only hear about the horror stories.

Link8

join:2001-12-16
Davis, CA

Re: its not bad for me

I have the 3mbps plan in Las Vegas and rarely did it drop below 6mbps, average was 7-8, and it was easy to get 10. I did not put any effort into locating the modem, or a more expensive service plan.

The crappy part is the service area. Until they've blanketed the US, there won't be much to say.
--
VGMasters my video game forum

Frustraded

@clearwire-wmx.net
I'm in Amarillo,Tx too. Three weeks ago, got new modem .All was gerat for 3/4 days.7m down 600k up. Been on phone for 4/5 days a week with clear.It sux .50m down .30m up.Im done going back to suddenlink.I'm glad my contract was up last month.

fuziwuzi
Not born yesterday
Premium
join:2005-07-01
Atlanta, GA

Atlanta pretty good

I have a few friends who are using Clear in Atlanta now and they are very pleased. The price is very competitive with other broadband services and the speed exceeds what is stated in their plan (they're seeing more than 7mbps down/1mbps up) consistently.

INsano

@clearwire-wmx.net

Don't know about everywhere else...

This is standard from my apt. in downtown Portland:


el3ment
Premium
join:2008-02-27
Aurora, CO

Used to be happy...

Happy customers do exist. However, I have been constatly complaining about Clear the last couple weeks.. You can see my posts in the clear forums...

Portland seems to be, well meh. They were one of the first cities to get it. I did see some good throughput.. Around 6-7 mbps down and 512+ up. Around 70ms ping time..

But there have been random outages and intermittent connectivity issues.. About 2 fridays ago, apparently, there was an 8 hour outage with no communication. I woke up, and nothing... Other customers reported the same thing.. Ping times extremely spikey latley.. I know this isn't on my end... I had a classmate who had the 5 bar nirvana, yet still couldn't get over 1mbps... Their techs couldn't figure it out haha...

Clear might be good for grandma checking her email.. But for us power users, forget it...

CLEARBob

@cox.net

It's New

Do any of you remember all when Cell phones first came out and how bad they were? Fast forward 25 years and supposedly much better technology and we all STILL have ongoing issues with our cell phones today. CLEAR is just getting the ball rolling... I agree there are some issues, however this time next year, when LTE is in it's beginning stages, you will see the same things as they try to iron out issues. There are several components to the Wimax network that CLEAR is using, and like with ANYTHING (Machine or Human) that has to work with something or someone else, sometimes in the beginning there are "communication" issues.

If CLEAR can get their act together before the Big "2" roll out LTE, they have a pretty good chance of surprising all of you. But that is a big If....

p110011

join:2001-12-29
Oregon City, OR

1 edit

Works here

Been using Clear WIMAX for about a month now and it's just so stable that it's kind of boring. I also experienced an outage in the Portland area, but I'm kind of patient I guess, I also lean towards giving the new kids a shot.

I get 6-8Mb/1Mb and good pings. I can talk using Vonage for hours and people have not said anything about voice quality.

Hope I didn't jinx myself!

bigjohn

join:2005-05-26
Woodstock, GA
kudos:1

Happy customer

happy customers do exist.
The problem with these forums is that the squeeky wheel and the "know it all", plus the anti-fanboy crowd all gang up.

If you take a look at it, I'd bet that of all these posts only 6 of us actually HAVE wimax.

I have CLEAR, here in Atlanta. I'm 20 miles outside the city, and have 4 bars. I consistenly get 512k up, and 2.0-3.00 down on my 3m/512 plan.

I do object to the fact I can't do a tracert, and that their stupid firmware won't let you turn off the fargin NAT....

but the service has been consistent for at least the last 2 months...

p110011

join:2001-12-29
Oregon City, OR

Re: Happy customer

Hey Big, what does tracert and turning off NAT do? I'll probably be pissed once you tell me, being all blissfully ignorant as I am
Just curious

ehurtley

join:2001-11-24
Portland, OR

I wouldn't know, I can't get it.

I have wanted Clear WiMax since it launched here in Portland. But unfortunately, my house is in a small (two block wide) valley. On launch, they didn't even make an attempt to say I could get it. Now, they claim I can; and they now have OS X drivers for the mobile USB dongle, so I decided to take the plunge. One of their mall kiosks has a program where you can borrow the home Ethernet modem free for a couple days to see if you get acceptable service. I did that.

Put it in my basement, where my cable modem now resides. No signal.

Put it upstairs, directly above (but on the 'far side' of the house from the side their nearest transmitter is on.) No signal.

Put it in the kitchen, in a window directly facing their nearest transmitter. No signal.

Put it on the back deck railing, as clear as possible line-of-sight to their antenna (although there are too many trees in between for me to even see if the hill is a problem or not.) No signal.

So, back to the mall it went. Darn.

Jahfrk

@clearwire-wmx.net

Faster Uploads

»www.speedtest.net/result/572399817.png

I am in the Amarillo Market and am being patient. I was happy with the service until the upgrade to WiMax. Have been a customer for 4+ years.

Its crazy how i can upload faster than I can Download. This is consistent until around 1am then the speed jumps to 4-6 down.
timflowers6

join:2006-10-13
Greensboro, NC

Clear is slower than Clearwire!

I stuck with Clearwire for 3 years, anticipating the new WiMax service. The signal was often weak and the speeds similar to "dsl lite", but it always worked, which is more than I can say for Time Warner's Roadrunner.
Now that I have the new Clear service, my download speed has actually gotten slower! I'm averaging 1.2 Mbps in the Greensboro NC market. It started out at around 5 Mbps when I first hooked it up, but then it slowed down. I've talked with tech support a few times, but I'm told something different every time I call. Friday night the rep said that I had to agree to their terms of service to get my speed back. I agreed to that and the issue was supposed to be sent to their "level 2" tech support for resolution. Two days later, it was no better, so I called back. They had no record of my earlier call and no trouble ticket had ever been created! The rep on my most recent call said he would let me speak to level 2 tech support, but in the end, it didn't happen. It never happens. Do they even have a level 2 tech support? Finally they agreed to schedule a "truck roll" to send a technician out. That will happen in two days. 3 years ago, when I first got the service, they had to send a technician out and the guy basically said he couldn't help me, and he left. Let's hope things go better this time.

I want this system to work, but the early results are dismal. And it's infuriating that their tech support people seem to just make stuff up to make you think they are really working on your problem. Call them 5 times, you'll get 5 different reasons and "solutions", none of which work.