CLEAR wireless

Discussion in 'Travel Technology' started by Jeffie, Feb 28, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. Jeffie
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    Jeffie Silver Member

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    I am considering getting one of their modems. I've heard both pro and con. Does anyone have experience with them? My concerns are speed, reliability and coverage area.
     
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  2. Gargoyle
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    Gargoyle Milepoint Guide

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    Clear and Sprint share a 4G antenna system, at least in the Chicago area. I've used the sprint 4g, it was flaky for the first six months last year, but they upgraded a lot and it's been good since then.

    My son has Clear; I was using his yesterday for a few hours; I was maybe 5 miles from ORD at the time. I was a steady connection but slow, felt more like 3G. He seems to find it pretty reliable.
     
  3. DenverBrian
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    DenverBrian Silver Member

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    I have the CLEAR USB modem - the one that looks like a mini-bagel - and I use it exclusively as my wireless provider at home and on the road.

    In DEN, the 4G signal shows as "perfect." I have gotten 9mpbs and higher on DSLReports. It's consistently faster than any DSL I've had in the past.

    Since it's a USB dongle, I take it with me on the road. I usually get great 4G at most airports I frequent, with the single exception of DFW. When I can't get 4G (like in TUS) it drops to 3G and is still fine for e-mail and web. I'm not using it right now because my hotel has free wireless that's a bit faster than 3G.

    I pay $55 all in a month, haven't paid for wireless access on the road since I got it, and use it as my home wireless. The only thing I had to give up at home was wireless printing, but I print at home so infrequently and I have a dock to put the notebook in, in my office, that this is an extremely minor inconvenience.

    One interesting advantage to using the 4G modem as my internet source is that there's no wireless signal being broadcast for anyone to poach or hack.
     
  4. mowogo
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    mowogo Gold Member

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    If you like the idea of fast speeds and live in one of the good areas for it, it is worth considering. However unless you can get perfect cell phone signal, then it is not worth considering.
     
  5. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Do you have only one device at home that needs internet access? If I wanted to use the 4G modem as a replacement for my DSL or cable modem service at home, I'd need to "export" the signal as a wifi hotspot, either by using a "MiFi"-type version instead of the USB dongle or by using the Windows 7 hotspot software (name currently escapes me). There are about eight or nine devices in this house that connect to my (secured) wifi network.
     
  6. DenverBrian
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    DenverBrian Silver Member

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    And I thought I was geeky. :D :D :D

    I believe CLEAR has a combo hotspot option that would allow you to do what you're looking for.
     
  7. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Two iPads
    One iPhone
    One EVO
    One Google TV
    One WD HDTV Live
    Three or four laptops
    Tivo (note to self: cancel that sucker)

    Yup. It adds up :)

    My wife has the EVO 4G; I should borrow that for a few days and explore the coverage here in the Bay Area. But I think it wouldn't work as my only internet connection at home, since I then wouldn't be able to take it with me when my wife or guests are at home.
     
  8. Jeffie
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    Jeffie Silver Member

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    Thanks for the input. I would be using it only on the road. Do most US airports have service available with Clear? For the most part, I am in and out of WN citiies.
     
  9. DenverBrian
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    DenverBrian Silver Member

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    Google is your friend.

    http://www.clear.com/coverage
     
  10. TheMadBrewer
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    TheMadBrewer Silver Member

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    I bought the iSpot (in theory iPhone/iPod Touch/Ipad only) just before they discontinued it -- I figured that was coming because it was like $25 (plus one month of service). I figured it would be a cheap way to check out their service.

    I live in Marina del Rey -- roughly halfway between LAX and Santa Monica -- so it's not exactly the boonies. I could not get a signal at home (40 year old townhouse) but was able to get service in the neighborhood -- but it was spotty. I took the iSpot with me when calling on clients and the results were the same -- great when it got a good signal, but just as often no signal or too weak to connect.

    I ended up buying a Virgin Mobile MiFi thru Wal-Mart -- they had a deal where you could get 2GB for $20 on a prepaid basis. That is now my "backup internet" and I'm happy.

    If you are looking at Clear, I'd try to find a friend who has one and invite him/her over and make sure it works where you need it.
     
  11. Tivoboy
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    Tivoboy Milepoint Guide

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    If you are going to travel with the device, you HAVE to get the 4g/3g version, these are more expensive and the plans are about 15-20$ more a month, but you'll have coverage basically everywhere. The 4g service works well in places where it is implemented (except in buildings with double pane windows, where it hardly works at all) but nobody knows how good the service will be once more users get on the platform.
     
  12. Tkey
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    Tkey Silver Member

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    CLEAR contracts to provide Sprints 4G network nationwide (where available).
     
  13. Travel2Food
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    Travel2Food Silver Member

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    Clear has always provided the 4G network to Sprint. The decision for Clear to drop retail was made to focus on building out the network and reaping sales from Sprint.

    If you travel, you need the 4G+3G version. 3G runs on Sprint's network, which is a mixed bag (I've seen latency of up to 900 mS at LAX).

    Clear won't sell directly to me unless I use the office address - my home is in a "hole" in their coverage area. For a variety of reasons, it's not feasible to use office address. There are coverage maps online, friends that have tried the service say VZ's 4G is better.

    Clear DOES throttle heavy users. There are lots of angry folks that got throttled (to below 3G speeds) and the company didn't inform them of the throttling. Some of the sites are overloaded, including the backhauls.

    Personally, given all the issues, I'm staying away from Clear. I'll wait until VZ releases it's 4G mifi unit and consider switching from Sprint (I have Sprint 3G dongle). YMMV
     
  14. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    Ping me if that kind of offer comes up again :)
     
  15. ScottC
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    ScottC Silver Member

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    I'd stay away from the Virgin MiFi deals - they used to be nice and fast, with unlimited transfers, but as they got more popular, the speeds dropped, as did the unlimited option.

    I travel with a Clear 3G/4G adapter and it rarely lets me down.
     
  16. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Hmm. Aren't both Virgin and Clear on the same physical 3G network (Sprint's)? Is Virgin/Sprint throttling Virgin MiFi users?

    My main interest is in a cheap option for the rare situation where I don't have WiFi service. My iPhone and MyWi give me that right now for a one-time $20 purchase. But I may not always be on the unlimited AT&T data plan, so I am keeping my eyes open for alternatives.
     
  17. ScottC
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    ScottC Silver Member

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    Yes - Virgin definitely throttles their own customers. With a Sprint 3G adapter next to a Virgin one, the Sprint modem is often up to ten times faster.

    FWIW; Clear is on its own network, Sprint just uses it. Clear operates a 4G/WiMax network, something Virgin doesn't offer.

    As slow as Virgin can get, I really wouldn't recommend it as a viable option for any business use. You'd be better off with a prepaid modem from Verizon or even AT&T. The easiest solution is to just pay the tethering fee to AT&T on your iPhone.
     
  18. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    Clear 4G is on its own WiMax network, but you said you had a 3G/4G adapter, and I believe that it uses the 3G Sprint network when 4G is not available. I need to look at the Clear network again to see how it looks these days. I think they recently started coverage in my neck of the woods (bay area), but they are certainly not heavily marketing it here.

    It's all quite interesting. Clear is majority-owned by Sprint. And Virgin Mobile is nowadays a subsidiary of Sprint.

    Thanks for the tip on Virgin throttling throughput.

    Well, no tethering fee if you don't tell'em. I don't really use it enough to feel morally obliged to pay $20 more for the same data I already paid for (I realize they are changing that by giving you an extra 2 GB for the $20 tethering/hotspot feature).
     

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