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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Trouble on the Portland wi-fi front

Clear has hit some bumps in the road. You might not want to rip that cable off the house just yet.

Comments (9)

Well, I signed up a few months ago. It's been great so far, a bit cheaper than Qwest for comparable speeds, and I'm able to thumb my nose at the fine people of Comcast. I hope Clearwire makes it.

I agree with Allan, I signed up a few months ago and relished cutting the cord. Would be quite embarrasing to have to grovel back to Comcast.

Though I will admit I don't want them to succeed enough to upgrade my service to include home phone service.

You do realize that Comcast owns 7% of Clear. Their High Speed 2 Go offering is just a rebranded version of Clear's service.

I think Portland cityhall still is anxious to launch its money losing broadband venture. Maybe Clear-wire can lure the bozos at cityhall into buying their franchise.

Like the first two commenters, I too joined Clear a few months ago, in my case because Comcast jacked up its rates without informing me and then I got a notice that I owed Comcast over $200 because my auto pay had been set at the old amount. Where I live, I have actually better speeds with Clear than with Comcast and at a lower price. So, yeah, I also hope Clear makes it. Otherwise, we are back to a virtual monopoly on internet service.

Maybe Clear wouldn't be losing so much money if they stopped sending both my wife and I seperate envelopes weekly with their sales pitch...both just go straight into the recycle bin.

My friend who lives in N PDX near UP tried Clear last month and it was a joke...slow and didn't work all over his house (like his office and his living room), even with some sort of booster box.

I love how people b@%*$ about Comcast yet Comcast has some major money in Clear...

Sounds like an antitrust issue to me.

Clear is blowing a ton on marketing. And its sales force all seem to be re-sellers or independent contractors working on commission, which is an interesting approach.

Once people figure out how to tether their Blackberries and iPhones, it's hard to see why they'd want Clear. But if it's coming in strong where you have a cable modem now, it might be a deal. For as long as it lasts.

"Once people figure out how to tether their Blackberries and iPhones, it's hard to see why they'd want Clear."

Mostly because it's a different class of service. HSDPA - that thing that everyone refers to as "3G" cellphone service, cannot match up with the throughput or latency that 802.16 (WiMAX) offers.

Think of it this way - In the old days, you used to dial up a modem across town, establish a connection to their core, and out you go through a dedicated frame relay service (T1 / T3 / etc.).

Nowadays, your cable modem or DSL goes to a central switch in your neighborhood, where it goes through a backhaul network connection (usually a 45 Mbps DS3) to the provider's network core, and then out to the Internet.

With 802.16 (WiMAX), it can replace this "last mile" run of copper with a 3.5 Ghz wireless signal. Because it's FCC-licensed spectrum, you don't have to worry about the same interference issues you get in the non-licensed 2.4 Ghz ISM band in which we have networks operating from 54Mbps up to 600Mbps in the 802.11n spec (The 600 Mbps PHY stuff doesn't exist yet, but the spec describes it. Current state of the art is somewhere in the 450Mbps PHY range, which is about 110 Mbps user throughput).

Cellular networks can't push that kind of bitstream without major issues. Sheesh, with AT&T's network (and your iPhone) go take in an OSU Football or UO Football game this fall, and try to do any significant data transfer while the game is going. You'll be quite unimpressed with the build quality of AT&T's network.

Too many people trying to feed off too little of a connection at the closest cell mast.

This is the market that Clear is trying to capture - the regional metro area market where they can deploy equipment and develop a subscriber base; and then when the technology gets refined, crank up the bandwidth to something that DSL and cable just can't do because of limitations of their technology - thin copper phone wire, or sharing your datastream with 300 channels of video in the same coaxial RG-6 wire. The best part, is that they don't even have to pay development costs, because the WiMAX Consortium (mostly Intel and Motorola) are already doing that.

Clear and Clearwire are not the same technology they've told me. But I believe the ownership is similar and includes Intel, Comcast, Time-Warner and another biggie. They're in startup mode and will be for a while building Wi-Max (that's what Clear is) city by city. Seattle I think is next for Clear. Being in startup and build-out mode they are sucking in money during a time of tight money. So I'm not surprised that they lost some money. And yes, I do prefer my Clear service as it's a bit better that Qwest DSL for the same money. And yes, I like my land line (the fax machine, other reasons) even if I have to deal with Qwest. The phone will probably be on when the power goes out (and Clear with it probably) so I can phone PGE.

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