I knew going to the SXSW conference in Austin that two things were going to happen: The wi-fi network in the convention center would be useless and AT&T would be useless because of the popularity of the iPhone. Only one of these items happened during the convention; the wi-fi was useless on the second day. My backup plan was using my phone on the AT&T’s network. It worked 50% of the time while near the convention center and zero percent went I ventured further downtown.
Since I was relying heavily on an Internet connection for posting stories, I wanted to try out CLEAR’s wi-max service.
The end result: If this was available in New Orleans or Baton Rouge, I would dump my cable internet for CLEAR.
The reliability of the connection – as well as the download and upload speeds – was the major reason I would dump my current ISP for CLEAR. On my plan that I selected, my speeds were capped at 6MBps down and 1Mbps up. Actual speeds at the convention center were 5.75MBps down and 978KBps up. At the place I was staying in the northeastern part of Austin was 4.5Mbps down and 955KBps up.
Service starts at $40 a month for the 6MBps down/1Mbps up service and $55 a month rewards you with no download cap.
While connected to the Wi-max network, I never experience a signal loss nor did I have experience lost of speeds while walking around downtown Austin, Tx.
I did experience one problem when while trying to connect on the last day of conference while watching the Twitter keynote. The signal was very weak because I sat in the front of the ballroom.
Bad mac software
The only problem I had with the CLEAR service was the mac software, which is horrible and needs to be rewritten. The software did not recognize the Wi-Max USB dongle when I started-up my PC and it took several restarts for my Mac to find it and properly mount it.
And when the software did eventually find the dongle, it took at least five minutes to connect to the Internet.
It should be noted that I was running the software on my HP mini 1000 running a hackintosh software – running Leopard 10.5.7 on a non-Apple hardware. This should not be a problem as I am able to run other software that was written for the Mac – like iWorks – and they run normal without any problems.
Location, location, location
While the service was excellent in Austin, CLEAR is not available nationwide and is currently available in a few major metropolitan areas – like Baltimore, Austin, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Seattle, Las Vegas and Charlotte.
The company did announce that they will expand the service into other major cities like New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. and will add more cities by the end of year.
So if you want CLEAR wi-max, you have better chance of getting the service if you live in a major city like Los Angeles than if you live in a smaller town like Baton Rouge, La.
Even with the bad software for the Mac and not available nationally expect in large cities like Houston, Atlanta and Seattle, the service is really good and reliable. If you have no high-speed internet access or have extremely poor Internet access, CLEAR wi-max service is for you.
If available in your area.