I ran across the Clear booth at Intel Developers Forum last week and learned a bit about the WiMax network’s plans for San Francisco. WiMax is one of those technologies that’s been ‘coming soon’ for way too long. Coverage is still sparse, even in some communities that have had it for a while, but word is that both San Francisco and New York in December.
San Francisco’s Moscone Convention Center already has a live 4G tower and there are a dozen sites throughout the city that are up, but not officially announced. Drive over enough hills and you might be able to get your HTC EVO or Overdrive to kick into high gear. As you can see in the above demo, a WiMax-equipped Toshiba laptop downloads at about 12mbps and uploads at 4mbps. Unfortunately, upload speeds are going to be capped at 1mbps once the service gets official here.
Sprint owns 50% of Clear and Clear customers will have the option of falling back on Sprint’s 3G network when WiMax is missing in action. To further complicate things for consumers, other ISPs, such as Comcast, will be reselling Clear WiMax service. Cable companies are eager to offer WiMax service as it can prevent costly Internet service installation service calls for. It’s much cheaper to just send a wireless router than to roll a truck.
Whatever happens, both home and mobile Internet service is about to change forever for a lot of users. Clear is offering bundles that will allow users to have one bill for both mobile and home service. The pricing plans are flexible and affordable. On the low end is the Clear iSpot plan that costs $25 per month and is compatible with Apple iOS devices. Unlimited 4G on a mobile modem or hotspot costs $40 per month, with 3G fallback a $15 upgrade. One of the more attractive bundles costs $55 per month and includes both a home WiMax router and unlimited mobile 4G.
It’s going to be tough to sell $60 per month 3G service with Clear in town…
Speeds will vary depending on proximity to Clear’s towers. The speeds offered will suffice for many users, but those who upload large files or stream a lot of video may find them on the slow side.
According to the rep at IDF 2010, Clear will be opening retail stores and releasing Clear-branded 4G phones.