Web kiloseven.blogspot.com
www.arrl.org www.eham.net

2009-01-12

Clearly faster, cheaper Internet

Clearwire AKA 'Clear' opened up Metro Portland as its second city where individuals and businesses can get high speed wireless internet via WiMAX at reasonable cost, and after a cost analysis, we took the plunge.

The home service pricing below includes $5/mo to rent a Motorola 2.5GHz WiMAX transceiver. You can buy instead of rent, but since hardware gets cheaper, we figured we'd rent at first... besides, if there's a failure, they're responsible for the transceiver if they own it.

$25/mo provides up to 768 kbps down, 128 kbps up.
$35/mo provides up to 3,000 kbps down, 384 kbps up.
$35/mo provides up to 6,000 kbps down, 512 kbps up.

There's no $35 sign-up fee if you obligate for 2 years of service instead of month-to-month, and there's a seven day 'remorse' period for cancellation. There's also mobile service and business service, both spendier than home service.

The hookup took 5 minutes; plug in power, let it find the signal (two towers within a mile of our suburban unincorporated area), then unplug the DSL 'modem' and plug the ethernet cable from the DSL 'modem' into the back of the Clear transceiver, then power cycle the WiFi router/switch. Did not have to make ANY changes in the settings of the WiFi router/switch.

Speedtest.net reported an average around 5,400 kbps down, 400 kbps up, which is not too shabby at all, better than advertised and better than the mean of 1,204 down, 588 up which $55/mo. Qwest DSL provides. The latency was higher, but still reasonable for gaming.

We'll still keep our landline, as we're belt+suspenders when it comes to calling 9-1-1, but the Vonage Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) line is probably going over to Clear when they're ready to start offering voice service, depending on the entire feature set once they're ready to talk about their $25 VOIP package. Update: OBTW, Vonage works better than it did with DSL.

The salesrep in their Clackamas Promenade store, John L., knew his product, wasn't pushy, and was easy to deal with. He was able to show me the tower location and calculate whether it would work OK based on my street address, and said the metro area had been mapped with drive testers, street-by-street, to make sure those estimates were accurate.

Their other stores are at 1512 N.E. Broadway, the Uptown Shopping Center and 1233 N.W. Lovejoy, and they sell through oodles of dealers, e.g., Grate Computers in NoPo, Agility Computers in Gresham, Budget Computers in Beaverton, Gadget Guyz in Vancouver as well as numerous others.