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Clear launches WiMax Internet service in D.C.

More than two years after its originally scheduled debut, high-speed WiMax wireless Internet access has finally come to the Washington area.

clear_logo.jpg

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.

Desktop modems cost $84.99 or rent for $4.99 a month, while laptop USB models start at $69.99. Some new laptops include WiMax reception built-in.

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?

By Rob Pegoraro  |  June 1, 2010; 10:03 AM ET
Categories:  Telecom  
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Comments

Don't believe the maps... I was using Xohm in suburban Rockville and Sterling in 2008/2009. There are gaps, but there is a decent amont of coverage. I assume they don't want to make it "official" until there's a broader footprint. But it's there. And why Sprint has been selling the Overdrive in suburbia since launch.

Posted by: davezatz | June 1, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

It will work fine in your demo because no one else is on yet. The more people who are on, the more a base station's download capacity is divided among users, and the slower your speed will be. That's where the "up to" kicks in. Check again in a few months.

Posted by: Bob_Dobbs | June 1, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

davezatz,

What are you talking about? I had XOHM in Baltimore and was very happy with speeds and coverage. Just moved to NW DC and was at the new grand opening at the N. Dupont Cr store and picked up the mobile/mobile for $55.. To each is there own for what they need..

Happy XOHM/Clear customer

Posted by: wirels3 | June 1, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

davezatz,

What are you talking about? I had XOHM in Baltimore and was very happy with speeds and coverage. Just moved to NW DC and was at the new grand opening at the N. Dupont Cr store and picked up the mobile/mobile for $55.. To each is there own for what they need..

Happy XOHM/Clear customer

Posted by: wirels3 | June 1, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

I'm happy with my Verizon DSL but I will give this a second look. A couple of things I like are 1) the availability with no long-term contract, and 2) no data caps like the big guys have. The Acceptable Use Policy lets them use their judgment if usage is excessive and harmful to the network, and that makes more sense to me than an arbitrary cap, if they do not abuse it, and I have not heard where they have.

If they just don't jerk customers around that will set them apart from the competition and they should do OK.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | June 1, 2010 9:23 PM | Report abuse

I have been waiting patiently for WiMAX in DC ever since Xohm was supposed to launch in Sept 2008 was it. Disappointed that my address in Capitol Hill is not eligible for home service, only the on the go plans. Is any address in DC eligible for home service? If so, what neighborhood are you in?

Posted by: jayridius | June 2, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Rob-
>>
>> I have been a CLEAR user in Austin, TX for well over 6months without
>> any
> incidents and great service. Our plan costs $50 p/mo (that's pegged
> for lifetime).
>> We rent the modem, figuring that if it somehow went south, it would
>> be
> replaced for free. With our plan we received a dongle that we use on
> our laptops, when out of the house.
>> We dumped Time-Warner's Road Runner for CLEAR and haven't looked back
> since. It has been a no-brainer. Since CLEAR works off of cell towers,
> we are lucky, we have a tower a block away from the house. BTW there
> is no interference from cellular calls and WiMax.
>> A business person travelling probably won't want to use CLEAR as
>> there
> aren't many metropolitan areas in the country presently serviced by CLEAR.
>> My vote is CLEARly a thumbs up.
>> I enjoy your columns which I read on the W.Post online. Thank you for
>> your
> expertise.

Posted by: Rcichocki | June 2, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Tip: If you're going to get Clear, you can also get tv online from a program at seetvpc [dot] com. Have used it for a couple years and it's great.

Posted by: Jenniferweb | June 2, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

I find WiMax to be an intriguing concept, although it consumes a lot of spectrum bandwidth, due to the high data rate. However, they are probably using a high level of digital signal compression. I do consider Radio
frequency Interference to be a possibility.
Time will tell.

Tom
Thomas L. Jones, PhD, Silver Spring

Posted by: DrJones1 | June 2, 2010 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Will Sprint Evo 4G users be able to connect to this?

Posted by: isaac105 | June 3, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

"Will Sprint Evo 4G users be able to connect to this?"

Though I'm not an authority on this, I would answer "yes" since this is the same Wimax that Sprint is offering via partner ClearWire. Plus, you don't have to pay additionally to ClearWire, though that extra $10/mon Sprint is charging for the EVO 4G presumably goes to ClearWire (in whole or part).

Posted by: Eludium-Q36 | June 3, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

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