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.
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:
Clear offers 4 different products: a standalone modem, a USB keyfob modem, a VOIP adapter and a mobile Wi-Fi access point.
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.
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 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.
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 $150–200 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.
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.