#74 Clear WiMAX

After spending the past six months with the Clear wireless experiment, it’s time to bash the hell out of an experience that can best be summed up as “worse than Comcast.”*

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

14 thoughts on “#74 Clear WiMAX

  1. I just love the fact that the link to “speedtest.com” actually goes to a site with the url of “spedtest.com”.

  2. Sorry to differ! I routinely got over 5 mbps, and now that clear is offering unlimited up/down…for 25$ a month……. sorry but your review is packed with fail. Move out of your cement boxes and your 1920’s houses with exposed copper in the walls, ungrounded outlets and lead paint!!!~!~!
    I just moved and my new roomies have comcast… sure its much faster…its also freaking 79$ a month, and about the “outages”… rolling tower drops are normal as the system updates and reboots. Would you rather any hacker with an android and a packet sniffer could access your bookmarks and passwords? If you cannot live without the net for a hour or so every few days… then you seriously need to kill yourself.

  3. I’m thinking about moving to Portland and upon reading “worse than Comcast” I inadvertently screamed “NOOOOOOOO” at the top of my lungs. This is by far the worst I’ve read yet.

  4. I love Clear. I live in NE right now, around 60th and Halsey and I’ve never had any problems. I’m moving to a new apartment on NW 22nd this week, hopefully the new location won’t f**k up my internet.

  5. I am sad… I had 10 Mbps with Five lights (sometimes 12 Mbps)… Then I moved across the hall to the other quieter side of the building away from the traffic. Now I only get 2 Mbps with 3 lights. It is still fast enough to watch YouTube and HuluI am gonna fiddle with it and see if I can boost that.

    Meanwhile… Clear, y’all need to get a tower over by the Coliseum in N. Portland… on the West Side of N. Vancouver @ Weidler.

    But all y’all who are saying “Clear sucks”… It is faster than Dial-up and and cheaper than Comcast. You don’t have to use it.
    You can use whichever service you like.
    I like Clear. It is cheap, and it is portable. If you move you just take you box with you and plug it in! Try that with Comcast. I pay $60/month for internet and unlimited long-distance. What more do you want.
    When it’s fast, it’s really really fast. And if it don’t work for you… Go somewhere else.

  6. Pingback: Stuff That’s Bad: Clear Internet « emtoo picks

  7. i am an authorized dealer ad am experience same problems. they say they are working on towers. but some areas speed and reliability is very fast and stays that way. why do you think at night it is slow. did over time they get the towers working properly? please keep me updated we just lauched dec 1st 2009. raleigh durham nc.

  8. Clear wimax is a joke. I have NEVER had 5 lights…I get 2 just by plugging it in and I have to constantly move it around just to get 3. I can get 4 if I set it by an open window…but living in the NW an open window is not ideal for much of the year! Also, the number of lights lit up doesn’t seem to have any real indication of the speed…most of the time it’s like I’m on dial-up no matter how many lights are lit and then sometimes I actually have decent speed, again, any number of lights may be on. Don’t get roped in by the price folks! You’re better off spending more on a more reliable service…or just save money for multiple cups of coffee or tea and use public wifi.

  9. trying clear for 6 months was the most ridiculous bunch of bulls**t i have ever been a part of. i had the exact same experience. they suuuuuuuuck.
    i hate comcast. but it’s my only option.

  10. Good to know, thanks for the post. But regarding Comcast, I’ve had Comcast Internet for nearly three years and never had a problem with it. What problems do others experience?

  11. Moved here a few months ago…………

    $%$E^%$^%$^%& Clear

    Worst excuse for an internet company of all time. Garbage service. I cant believe I’m paying 35 a month for something slower than dial up and ihave to hold onto this trash for 2 years or face paying 200 bucks to cancel.

  12. “Clear wireless” haven’t used it as of yet but I agree with you about the comcast issues they do suck and it is really expensive. But in this day and age all cable companies like to over charge us what are you going to do? another thing about comcast that gets on my nerves is that the signal quality always seems to cut out all the time.

    By the way new seasons market is way more expensive then whole foods from what I have seen. There is one in Beaverton where I live it’s on cedar hills blvd you can literally spend a fortune in that place and not buy anything.

  13. I lived about a block from a Clear location too, over on 23rd, but when I looked up service areas, my apartment wasn’t covered. Ouch @ “worse than Comcast”. Although my Comcast service itself is adequate – it’s their customer service I can’t stand.

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