Their Achilles Heel?
From last year’s review, Clear 4G coverage was expected to be in 80 markets by the end of 2010 and upping expansion rapidly towards nationwide 4G WiMAX coverage.
If Clear (& Sprint with 51% controlling interest) can duplicate the success, the country will have nationwide 4G coverage in much the same way we now have 3G coverage.
While that’s still possible, the speed at which this has been happening has slowed severely. At 5 months into 2011, the Sprint/Clear 4G cities list is 82.
With over a quarter of the year already past and only 2 cities worth of 4G coverage growth past 2010 goals, things aren’t looking optimistic.
The source of the problem?
Clearwire is having serious money problems and will need to find a cash infusion to keep going past the near-term.
Why doesn’t Sprint just give Clearwire the cash it needs to expand the WiMAX network rapidly?
The theory goes that Sprint and Clearwire are in a struggle for control of the network, with Clearwire not relinquishing enough control to warrant a cash infusion from Sprint.
While this is all going on, Sprint’s 4G network expansion appears to be on hold. Clearwire has enough money to "maintain" its current network. But expansion into new cities has slowed to a trickle.
Checking Clear 4G Coverage In Your City
There are two ways to see 4G (and 3G) coverage in your city:
If looking at strictly 4G coverage, Clear’s coverage viewer is much more user friendly thanks to 4G coverage overlay on a Google map. While you can also see 3G coverage using their tool, the shading of green makes it more difficult to see.
However, since they display only 3G and 4G coverage, there’s no potential confusion for 2G dialup like speed coverage being mixed in with mobile broadband coverage as AT&T does here.
If looking at strictly 3G coverage, Sprint’s tool cuts right to the chase with a clear street, state and country level view of nationwide coverage. 4G coverage is equally visible, but isn’t as aesthetically pleasing as Clear’s.
Either way, you’ll find the information you need.
Sprint 4G Coverage | 2011 Review
Click on any of the coverage maps below to open Sprint & Clear’s tools respectively in new windows:
The Bottom-Line On Clear 4G Coverage
Whether or not Clear will continue building out 4G WiMAX coverage for a nationwide footprint remains to be seen.
By the end of this year, they’ll may make a decision on whether or not to transition from WiMAX to LTE. If they do, nationwide coverage may come fully in the form of LTE or a blend of WiMAX/LTE technology before phasing out WiMAX.
For now, Clear 4G is still a strong offering where 4G coverage is available.
However, if you’re outside the coverage area, you may want to hold off on buying a 3G/4G hybrid device in hopes of being prepared for when it arrives to your area.
It’s better to wait until they make a decision on LTE. That way, if they do go the LTE route, you can purchase a WiMAX/LTE hybrid device that would support their current 3G network as well as 4G WiMAX and LTE networks.
Clear has a plethora of 4G modems available that fall into 3 main categories:
- Mobile Hotspots
- USB Modems
- Home Modems
If your home is small enough, you may be better off with even 1 or 2 mobile hotspots instead of a home modem plus a mobile device.
It’ll save you money and you can carry both devices where ever you please.
Also in this review: