[qi:gigaom_icon_WiMax] Sprint announced WiMAX service today in San Antonio and my hometown of Austin, Texas, so this is just to tell y’all I’m playing with a modem and will be letting folks know how it all works, once I activate the darn thing. Currently Sprint doesn’t […]

[qi:gigaom_icon_WiMax] Sprint announced WiMAX service today in San Antonio and my hometown of Austin, Texas, so this is just to tell y’all I’m playing with a modem and will be letting folks know how it all works, once I activate the darn thing. Currently Sprint doesn’t support a USB modem for Macs (but I’m assured that one is coming, likely in time for the holidays), which means I need a PC to activate my modem on. But then I can use a personal hotspot product that converts the WiMAX signal to Wi-Fi to test it out on my MacBook (and iPod Touch)! So send me your questions, concerns and anything else WiMAX-related, and I’ll try to address them or get them answered. Personally, I want to see if this is something I could replace my wired connection with, or if it’s really just what I’d use instead of my 3G MiFi while I wait for LTE.

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  1. Stacey,
    Can you do the following.
    Connect to WiMax, make a internet phone call while running Youtube Video (on Mute).
    Run a speed test at couple of locations.
    Have someone drive your car while running the speed test ( if possible).
    Run a comparison speed test (if possible) on Comcast Cable,
    then with Verizon Evdo, Sprint Evdo and ATT using broadband wireless modem ( if you have).
    I remember folks ran an extensive test in Baltimore when it was announced first time. But I suspect the signal strength is the same. SPRINT might have showcased Baltimore for their first launch ??

    1. Stacey Higginbotham gbp Monday, November 16, 2009

      Okay, I can do many of the above, but lack all the resources for a complete head to head comparison on all services. If i can wrangle an AT&T 3g modem from someone to compare on GSM, I have the Verizon covered and can compare against Sprint 3G as well.

  2. Can this be compared to Clear? I had read of reception problems in Portland(?) and heard someone here in Atlanta tell his radio listeners that he was unable to get a signal (and was returning the hardware).

    Specifically, I would like to know whether it is a viable alternative to Comcast cable internet.

    1. Macdad, the sprint network *is* the Clear network since Sprint resells the service from Clearwire.

  3. I am in austin and purchased the Clear version (same network sprint is using). USB for my mac.

    How does it work?

    Inside I am getting 1-2Mbit down and 400-500k up.
    Outside (or near windows) I am getting 5-6Mbit down and 400-500k up.

    There are holes in the network (couldn’t get a signal on some parts of MOPAC while driving) but seems to work most places.

    I was in a car to Dallas and had service in austin, killeen, waco and dallas on i-35. Was able to skype videoconference while going 70mph. (no – I wasn’t driving).

    Not fast enough for me to replace a home connection, but at $25/month (actually $50/month for 2 mobile connections) – I am happy for going about austin with this on my laptop.

    1. Al:

      You’ll probably find using the USB for your only WiMAX connection within your home (or any building) isn’t going to give satisfactory performance. I’d recommend buying the WiMAX-WiFi router from Clear and placing your USB modem with it near a window, etc. I use the Motorola fixed modems for in-home access (connect a standard WiFi router on the backend) and get significantly better performance with either of these two setups than with a USB directly into the laptop.

  4. Stacey, you’ve long asserted that broadband customers do not have a choice of providers, even though several WISPs have long been operating in Austin. Now that a bigger (but not necessarily better) company is offering wireless Internet there, will you finally concede that broadband is competitive?

  5. Stacey:

    I live in Portland, have two Clear fixed + mobile + VoIP subscriptions (one for family, one for home office) for the last nine months. I stream TV on the MAX light rail to the airport with a Mac (using the WiMAX-to-WiFi conversion router approach you mentioned). I am directly between two base station sites in suburban NW Portland, get 5MB down/750kb up anywhere in my home with a WiFi router on the backend of the WiMAX device. Get about 2.5MB down/500kb up on the mobile setup. (Yes, I’m a bit of a techie so I test this regularly…).

    I recently dumped Verizon FiOS for Clear, as I got similar fixed access rates over FiOS at a $50/mo savings. And FiOS network performance is spotty, frequent periodic service interruptions (think 1-2 times per week). End of the day, wireless services will always have coverage issues. But for me, Clear is value for money.

  6. David H. Deans Monday, November 16, 2009


    Perhaps it would be insightful to know if Clear is using any methods (port blocking etc) to restrict certain types of broadband applications — free testing tools are availbale here (some are online, but other don’t have a Mac version) http://www.measurementlab.net/

  7. Any ISP — including not only Clearwire but any telephone or cable company — is justified in restricting abusive activities such as P2P.

  8. I lit up a business customer by the Austin airport and he was getting 10mbs down on http://www.speedtest.net . However i am lucky to get 2mbs down at my WiMAX.com office in NW Austin. I still think holes need to be filled.. It’s still great finally having WiMAX service in Austin.

    Mike Wolleben

  9. Have been using Clear WiMax (two mobile USB modems) for a few months in the ATL area now. Average download is probably 5 to 6Mbit, but 10 or 11 are very common too (at my favorite Starbucks). Coverage gaps are still being plugged so coverage and speeds keep getting better all the time. Very happy so far. Not expensive either: two accounts, no download caps: $55/month.

    Stacy, when testing through the mobile WiFi router (I assume the same one Clear resells) be aware that the router may cap speeds (I believe at 5 to 6Mbit), or at least it used to.

    Also, try to get a Clear Wimax USB: they released a Mac driver last month.

  10. Michael Powell Monday, November 16, 2009

    I have been using Clear here in Austin (Pflugerville) since it launched Nov 1. It has worked GREAT. The service is fast enough and so far reliable enough that I cancelled my DSL today and Clear is now my primary connection for home and mobile. I get 5-6Mbps down consistently and have times where it hits 8-10. Saturday I watched 2 college football games and a Hulu episode all at the same time with no latency. I think for the price it is a great option. I have the Home and Mobile Unlimited option. Feel free to ask any questions about the service on Twiiter @powellmap

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