Clearwire Sucks

Have you ever heard of Clearwire? Clearwire is an ISP who offers internet service through a different medium: radio. The clearwire modem uses a radio signal to connect to the nearest cell tower rather than using a cable connection or running through the phone line. All ISPs are – naturally – susceptible to interference of some kind and thus experience downtime but Clearwire takes downtime and interruptions to a new level.

That’s what the Clearwire modem looks like. Receive it in the mail, turn it on, plug the network cable in and you’re good to go. No need to schedule someone to come out to your house and set anything up. At that moment is when you’ll have reached your highest view of Clearwire, it’s all downhill from there.

There are five lights on the top of the modem to indicate how strong the signal is. I never had all five lights on but would regularly see from one to three of them. Their tech support told me that even though there were two towers nearby that I just wasn’t able to get a good signal.

I used a few bandwidth measuring sites to gauge how poor the speed was. The plan that I was on was 1.5M down and 256K up. I never saw that sort of speed over the six months of service. The usual download speed ranged anywhere from 50K to 500K and pings were always at least 100ms with +300ms expected. You can absolutely forget any sort of online gaming. On days where there were significant cloud cover the service was on par with dial-up services but with much worse outages. I also had the phone service through them which uses VoIP. Not sure what kind of compression they were using but if the phone was in use you could not surf the web otherwise the phone would suffer. A clear sign of poor bandwidth and/or lack of adequate QoS.

With Clearwire you can forget about using any of these services online:

  • Multi-player gaming. Just no – not a chance.
  • YouTube. Only way of watching anything on YouTube was to pause the video and let it download completely.
  • Streaming radio. Forget about DI, SomaFM, Triple J. Clearwire can’t keep up with streaming unless you opt for the 24K streams of any station – many of which have stopped catering to dial-up users.
  • Downloading anything in a timely fashion. Updates for Windows or iTunes would regularly takes hours to download. Grabbing your favorite Linux ISO would turn into an overnight mission. And thanks to the extremely high ping, downloads would regularly abort.
  • Skype will be an interesting experience at best.
  • Keeping an SSH session is nearly impossible as the ping will time it out and the bandwidth makes it appear like you’re on a dial-up connection when typing.

I’m not the only one that’s had trouble, in fact there is at least one web site devoted to sharing experiences of other Clearwire customers. Have a quick read before thinking about Clearwire.

My experience has been pretty much the same as every other person on here. Rarely got enough of a signal to even get online. Complained, got no where. Get this: One tech told this line of crap “if you have the newer vinyl double pane windows that sometimes interferes with the signal” What a crock! So I’m supposed to what? Put the receiver outside and run a cable into the house? Yeah I maybe a woman, but I’m not stupid. I was stupid enough to buy their non-existent service, but that was because THEY LIE! If there’s a class action lawsuit I want in on it.

After about six months of wasting money and being frustrated with the service, I finally cancelled. Because I was getting out of the contract early they charged me $170 for the modem and an additional $50 because I also would cancel the phone service. Entirely a rip off considering that they were not delivering on their end of the deal.

I have DSL now. Hasn’t had a glitch since the first day. I have their lowest plan but I’m able to do all the things listed above that Clearwire can’t. And I’m paying less!