So it was almost a year ago that I went off to Baltimore, Maryland for the big Clearwire WiMAX launch. Yes, the company offered WiMAX service before, but this was the big kick-off between Sprint and Clearwire for a national 4G network. The speed of service was excellent where coverage existed. Over the course of the last year, Clearwire has added service in several markets like Atlanta, Las Vegas and areas of Texas. But is the service still delivering what it advertised?
Reading through this DSL Reports piece today, I’m not so sure. It’s filled with horror stories of coverage variances and broadband speeds that aren’t really broadband speeds. Here are two of many customer comments:
“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.”
“In a nutshell the speed has been all over the place since day one. I saw 6mbps once or twice and that was it. Beginning 9/4/09 it has been HORRENDUS [sic]. Speeds are now a constant sub-1mbps and at times worse than 384k DSL.”
Granted, it’s difficult to tell if folks are talking about the Clearwire service for home internet use or for mobile device use, but it’s concerning in either case. I know that when you have a solid signal, the service beats the pants off of today’s EVDO or HSPA here in the U.S. It’s easily three to four times faster on the download side. But I keep coming back to the timing of the Clearwire national network. It can take years to build out coverage that minimizes the holes and gaps. And you have to balance the wireless demand with backhaul supply in order to meet the customers insatiable needs — not an easy thing to do.
There are a few positive user reviews in the DSL Reports article, so it’s not all bad news. But the negative viewpoints outweigh the positive ones by a fair amount. I know that some of our readers have chimed in before with their Clearwire experiences, but I’d like to get a current pulse on the situation, especially since the service rollouts are expanding. How’s the Clear service working in your neck of the woods? Are the horror stories just exaggerations or do they have merit?