For the most recent info, see the 2011 Clear 4G Review
WiMAX, the final frontier.
Sounds like something out of the last Star Trek series (Star Wars if you’re not a trekkie). All jokes aside, WiMAX is a next generation 4G mobile broadband technology. As we covered before, it’s like a hot spot that covers an entire city.
So what’s the catch?
It’s new and not available everywhere.
Clearwire, with the financial backing of Sprint, Google, Comcast and Intel (to name a few) is rolling it out across the country under the brand CLEAR.
Meanwhile, Sprint and Comcast are reselling the service as MVNO’s (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) under the Sprint 4G and HighSpeed2Go brands respectively.
While you may have heard of Sprint’s Xohm, it has merged with CLEAR 4G WiMAX.
What does all this mean for you?
CLEAR will be the go to carrier for mobile WiMAX with Sprint 4G and HighSpeed2Go by Comcast as alternatives of essentially the same service.
With that being said, we’ll cover the usual mobile broadband suspects:
Before we hop into that, here’s a deeper primer on what makes WiMAX work. Otherwise, skip right to the review:
What is WiMAX & How Does It Work?
Chances are you’ve heard of WiFi and 3G. While they all use radio waves to transmit data they’ve got distinct differences.
WiFi is like a cordless phone. It’s good for around the house and you can use it as much as you want. 3G mobile broadband, however, is like your cell phone. It’s good just about any and everywhere but you’ve got ‘minutes’ [data in this case] that can run out.
And then there’s WiMAX.
It hopes to be the perfect blend of the WiFi & 3G. With cable/fiber optic speed delivered in WiFi-like fashion with coverage akin to current 3G networks, it can shape up to be a higher speed internet that’s available just about everywhere.
WiFi signals compete for bandwidth, and can be easier to interrupt if too far from the source. Similarly, 3G technology also depends on distance. Obstructions between you and the tower can also affect your signal strength. It’s almost like being on a telephone party line. WiMAX, however, is like having a faster, dedicated private line.
Mobile WiMAX, also called 801.16e 2005, operates at bandwidths from 2 to 66 GHz, which allow a low frequency, long range, high powered signal. This makes service inside buildings is better. WiMAX towers also work in line-of-sight, transmitting signal from tower to user, or tower to tower(s) to user. With multiple avenues for signals to travel, it’s easier for them to get where they need to.
Does all that make WiMAX ready for primetime?
The jury is still out.
As frontrunners Sprint and Clearwire work on the details of their merger, companies like Verizon and AT&T are plotting the launch of rival technology LTE. Also, T-Mobile is working on rolling out its super fast HSPA+ network. To stay ahead of the game, CLEAR WiMAX is gonna have to move pretty fast to lock in market share. With plans to launch 25 markets before the end of 2009, they’re not doing too shabby.
Let’s see what they’re working with.
But first, a sidenote:
Dear Copyright Lawyers, please note that Clear should actually be CLEAR™ . Please forgive me for typing Clear for the duration of this review. Since I’ll be using the word a lot to mean only one thing, I don’t wish to shout at you in ALL CAPS FOR THE ENTIRE REVIEW. Thanks in advance.
Clear has a number of unlimited mobile broadband plans divided into 4 types: Home, Mobile, Bundle and Professional (small office) plans.
The hallmark of Clear 4G plans is 2-fold.
2 year contracts and data caps are a thing of the past.
It’s a mobile broadband user’s dream.
Freedom to download to the digital heart’s content alongside the freedom the leave anytime.
Read on for the full review on the buffet of 4G plans they’ve got lined up for you.
Clear offers the speeds you’d get from DSL or cable internet wirelessly. With several 4G speed tests backing them up, it’s the real deal.
Clear brags average speeds of 3 – 6 Mbps with bursts over 10 Mbps.
That’s 2 – 3 times faster than the average 0.6 – 1.4 Mbps offered by current 3G carriers averages.
With those speeds you can game online, stream HD video from YouTube or listen to internet radio like Pandora on the go without worrying about choppy experiences or data usage caps.
Read on for live Clear WiMAX speed tests.
Clear 4G Coverage is growing rapidly. If they can duplicate the rollout Sprint (one major investor) did of its EVDO Rev. A back in 2006, we can look forward to nationwide 4G coverage in 2011.
Clear’s plan is to have 80 markets with 4G coverage by the end of 2010. If Sprint’s (one of their major investors) past history with 3G coverage rollouts are any indicator, the prospects look bright.
See if you’ve got 4G coverage in your city (or if some is coming soon).
There’s an array of Clear WiMAX devices to choose from and they fall into 4 major categories:
- 4G Modems
- 4G Laptops & Netbooks
- 4G Mobile Devices
- 4G Accessories
We navigate the ins and outs of each one to drill down to a device that’ll help you get ‘er done and look good doing it too. Jump to the full reviews on Clear WiMAX devices.
Looking to see how Clear 4G WiMAX matches up against other mobile broadband providers, see the Carrier Comparison.