It all started with my 1920′s house located a block away from the Clear WiMAX tower. I noticed it while walking to my favorite happy hour spot on a lovely April afternoon. After listening to the massive marketing efforts, I decided to look into this new 4G wireless network (Remember, I live in an old house with two prong electrical outlets and no cable jacks). The initial setup took 30 minutes from Clear’s store to my computer. For something technological to just work amazed me, and I was certain that this experience would continue.
After the first two months went by, I noticed from 5-8pm the Internet would crawl. This is when I decided to upgrade my 3 mbs home plan to 6 megabits per second. The customer service rep assured me faster speeds. Mind you, I love hating Comcast (it’s like hating Microsoft, At&t, and the Lakers) so never having to deal with them brought happiness to my soul.
Everything appeared to be working faster during the day but I was still noticing problems at night. Streaming Netflix just crawled at night. That’s when I was introduced to a new friend called speedtest.net. This one free site introduced me to the real world of Clear. Not only had I never received 3 or 6 megabits/second during internet use, spending $10 more for the upgrade didn’t even matter. I would never come close to 3 megabits during “peak hours”. Clear customer support would never fully answer this question, but I was informed to reach optimum speeds you must:
- Receive a five bar single (Since I live 1/2 a block away from a tower, I always get 4-5 bars)
- Disable your anti-virus software
- Don’t use a wireless router
- Plug straight into the Clear box
Now that is just ridiculous so I decided to test it using a wireless router and Speedtest.net’s iPhone app. Here are the results:
Results using a PC with Anti-Virus software turned on and plugged directly into the Clear box:
Now here is the kicker. Ten minutes after this speed test, I lost Clear service entirely for an hour. When I called Clear’s support line I received an automated message that they were aware of problems in my coverage area. Portlanders, you DO have a problem in your area; Clear WiMAX.
*To be fair, Comcast does own a large stake in Clear