Web surfers in the Pacific Northwest will soon join the denizens of Baltimore, Md., in their ability to get WiMAX service. Although those in Baltimore are still surfing under the old Xohm brand offered by Sprint, Clearwire plans to launch the first citywide Clear branded service in Portland, Ore., on January 6 — a little more than a month after Clearwire and Sprint completed their spectrum deal, and raised $3.2 billion for a nationwide WiMAX network.
Pricing ranges from $30 a month for 200 MB to $50 for unlimited data — and looks to be cheaper than cellular data plans, but pricier than Xohm’s pricing. There’s also a $35 activation fee and some questionable terms of service agreements, which Clearwire says will be changed.
In a TOS section of the web site dated from Oct. 19, 2007, Clearwire limits the use of bandwidth-sucking application such as P2P file-sharing and continuous FTP uploading and downloading. This isn’t in and of itself bad, but the TOS site also says Clearwire will take action against such bandwidth hogs by “managing network resources through techniques such as limiting the aggregate bandwidth available for certain bandwidth intensive protocols such as peer-to-peer applications and newsgroups.” (emphasis mine) That sounds like throttling certain types of traffic.
That contradicts what Cleawire CEO Ben Wolff told me this month when I asked him how the Clear service would deal with network management. At the time he said the company won’t ID specific bandwidth-hogging apps and try to restrict or limit those. Because the terms of service date from over a year ago, my guess is they need to be reconciled with the new Clear service. Clearwire says that should happen soon.