Clear launches WiMax Internet service in D.C.
This new "Clear" service, from Kirkland, Wash.-based Clearwire, offers speeds roughly competitive with most digital-subscriber-line and some cable connections. Home plans cost $30 for download speeds of 1.5 million bits per second (Mbps) and .5 Mbps uploads, or $40 for "up to 6" Mbps downloads (a frequently-asked-questions page clarifies that download speeds should average from 3 to 6 Mbps) and 1 Mbps uploads. Voice-over-Internet-Protocol phone service adds $15 or $20, depending on the home plan.
A $40 mobile plan offers the same 6/1 Mbps speed
and ; a $15 add-on brings the fallback option of slower 3G wireless access. but doesn't allow Neither allows adding Internet-calling service. You'll have to bring your own TV service with any Clear plan.
But you have to connect from a WiMax service area first. Clear's coverage map shows almost no coverage outside the Beltway and large gaps inside it, including large swaths of Fairfax and Prince George's counties; even later expansion plans will leave most of the farther suburbs offline.
Even Clear's limited reach today, however, spans hundreds of thousands of potential customers who, thanks to Verizon halting its expansion of Fios service into new jurisdictions, can only choose between Verizon's DSL and cable-modem service from the local monopoly (usually Comcast or Cox, though RCN offers competitive services in a few areas).
That makes Clear's debut a potentially significant change--if it works as advertised. That's what I hope to find out in the coming weeks. You can help with that: If you've used Clear's service elsewhere, how has that worked for you? Would you consider it an acceptable substitute for other forms of land-based broadband?
June 1, 2010; 10:03 AM ET
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