Clearwire may lose potential customers, here’s why

Syl and I took a look a few different internet options aside from the usual: cable, DSL, or FIOS. The requirements were that the service would need to be a) temporary, b) able to be shared, c) free of obtrusive installations, and d) convenient – no long-term contract requirements. Two options immediately sprang to mind – EVDO access using a Sprint data card + Kyocera KR1 router or Clearwire.

Due to the fact that Sprint would require an actual long-term contract, we decided to check out Clearwire which offers month-to-month service. Clearwire launched with the intent of providing nationwide Wi-Max broadband access to the masses. Since 2004, Clearwire has added a handful of major metropolitan cities to its service coverage map.

The convenience of online shopping, right?

In todays internet age, I find it more convenient and efficient to utilize online resources to make purchases. Purchasing service through http://clearwire.com should be no different from completing an order through http://sprint.com, http://cingular.com, or http://comcast.com. Unfortunately, a recent scenario proved that shopping online can still feel very alien.

Welcome to clearwire.com

Cleawire.com - Homepage

Immediately, we visit http://clearwire.com. We are greeted with a general landing page with a clear-cut navigation, an invitation to "Save up to $100 when you order online today" (Bingo!), three service option summaries, a quick "Get pricing and service availability", and an invitation for "Live chat".

How much and is it available in the neighborhood?

Clearwire - Enter addressWe’re both informed, we know what Clearwire is all about, and we understand that Wi-Max coverage is still being rolled out. Let’s fast forward, check coverage availability, and enter the address where service will be used. Visitors have a convenient form for entering a street address, zip code, and floor. Floor?

I know Clearwire means to convey a message along the lines of "How many floors are in the home or building where the service will be used? This is important because your connection quality relies heavily on the modems ability to acquire a strong signal. Physical structures may prevent the modem from receiving the strongest signal possible.", but how would the average Joe looking to leave Comcast interpret the option?

Let’s assume that everyone understands that the option refers to the number of floors in the building where service will be used. Let’s also assume that service at the address is available but that I live on the 2nd floor of a 4 floor complex. Would I enter option 2 since I live on the second floor? Or, do I enter 4 because I live in a complex with 4 floors? What If I lived on the ground floor of an 8 floor apartment? If this extensive of a preliminary inquiry is required, users might as well be asked to enter whether or not they live in a brick, all steal, concrete, or wood structure. There are no directions or hints explaining why "floor" is so important. [No reference in the FAQ] Sprint or Verizon don’t ask whether I’ll be sitting in a garage, lounging at home, or walking outside during service usage.

Experimenting with a number of different scenarios, the resulting page which expresses whether coverage is available mentions nothing about what affect the floor may have on your service.

Clearwire - Availability Error

Our first few attempts checking coverage availability resulted with the above image. Because of this initial hurdle, we were unable to find out how much the service would be on a month-to-month basis. As potential customers, it would be much easier to see a quick overview of the pricing tiers – for comparison with other services – before having to enter any type of personal information.

I’m having issues ordering, can I talk to a sales rep?

Clearwire - CallAfter realizing that little progress was going to be made as far as ordering service online was concerned, we resorted to contacting a sales or support representative. At the time of posting, the Live Chat graphical links redirected to an email form with the prompt that no representatives were available. With that in mind, we located a telephone number at the top right corner of the page next to Store Locater. The number reads 1-888-Clearwire – C-L-E-A-R-W-I-R-E = 9 characters which when added to 1-888 would equal 13. Your standard telephone number is comprised of 10 – this might throw a few people off.

Clearwire - Contact

1-888-Clearwire = 1-888-253-2794-73 which does not equal the 1-888-253-2794 shown in FAQ. Regardless, we dial and listen to the available prompts for opening new service. Calling from both a 206 & 425 area code numbers (which area clearly major metropolitan areas in Seattle / Bellevue), we both received the following (20 sec. recording). Not exactly the answer we’re looking for when the coverage map clearly covers our area(s).

Disclaimer

It is important to note that this entry was published after initial attempts of checking coverage availability and ordering service online failed. At the time, Clearwire coverage availability was reporting that the address entered was outside of the coverage area. Subsequent inquires later in the day oddly reported that the address was indeed within the service coverage area. The experience shopping online does not reflect the quality of the actual internet service – I am more than happy to and look forward to comparing Clearwire to Sprints solid EVDO network which I use daily with both a Novatel U720 (external USB) & Vaio VGN-TXN15P (bult-in)..

Discuss - 225 Comments

  1. I was just thinking about going to Clearwie.I’m sure glad that I have read some of these comments first.I’m going to wait a while and see if they can get these problems fixed and stop screwing people,before I ever subscribe to that service,etc.

    Thanks,
    P.Lawson

  2. Jim Dobson says:

    Clearwire has violated several laws under both the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The organization has, in a pre-meditated manner, deceived the public during its Initial Public Offering (IPO) in that it knew that its coverage topology and backhaul scheme would not result in their being able to comply with the QoS portion of their standard Service Level Agreement (SLA). They knew this would result in rampant complaints because they knew that the number one issue would that of not being able to achieve the bandwidth level/throughput speed promised, yet they went on to (1). raise money via the IPO process and (2). the private investment capital process.

    Essentially, Time-Warner, Sprint (in being suckered to give up their 3.5GHz frequencies, Comcast, Intel and other have been nothing short of being serious duped buy gross misrepresentations of the system’s ultimate speed. They were warned multiple times by experts, analyst and internal personnel but favored to “hide” their system design flaws in favor of receiving large capital infusions from the misguided public and private investors.

    I’d encourage those with knowledge of this deception to contact the investigations section of the SEC and FTC. Clearwire is proportedly attempting to raise an additional $2.3billion dollars on top of the $3.3 billion already raised plus the public funds garnered from the IPO. The public continues to purchase their stock believing they are deploying systems in a manner consistent with engineering prudence and basic fundamental algorithms which predict reliable radio frequency (RF) coverage and throughput.

    They have squandered way over $5.6 billion dollars and have had multiple opportunities to emplace their Wimax system correctly. They elected not to.

    If $5.6billion in waste and deception urks you (nevermind Clearwire’s theft of your money by insisting they should garner about $220 in early service withdrawal fees from those terminating their flawed service despite their failure to produce promised service levels), then do something about it. The money they have effectively taken from private and public money sources ($5.6billion) represents 10% of the money Bernie Madeoff stole from its investors. Where there is premeditation, their is crime.

    Make that call to the SEC and FTC and don’t tolerate these sorts of sophisticated white-collar crime schemes.

    Thank you

  3. Kyle says:

    CLEARWIRE IS GARBAGE! I am at my house right now on clearwire, and I’ve got to say, it is the worst internet I have ever seen. I live in Medford, Oregon, and I have been to many friends houses who have been tricked into getting clearwire as well, and they all think it blows. They only time i can get any service at all is in the middle of the night, when i would assume there isnt many people using the bandwidth it works somewhat. But during the day it is total garbage. I just tried to play COD: WaW on my Xbox 360 and constantly dropped from games with red (poor) connection. not to mention i tried downloading the new map pack, what i a fool I am for trying. after 5 minutes of a 450 mb download i was still at 0%. It is so frustrating i have many times considered vandalizing the clearwire office here in Medford. Do yourself a favor, if your reading this and considering getting clearwire, stab yourself and save yourself from the pain of their lies, and horrible service. Im guessing that this D-Bag Rick is an employee of Clearwire, because nobody who tries to use clearwire for anything that they advertise it being good for, is ever happy with it. I remember when going to the office the salesman told me that it would work great for gaming and downloading, but then when you call Tech Support about how crappy it is, they tell you that the service should not be used for gaming, streaming, or downloading. What do people use the internet for nowadays? most people don’t just check email anymore, we want You-tube, Limewire, and First Person Shooters. I seriously hope that everyone affiliated with clearwire dies.

  4. Well, I couldn’t agree with you more, we are in Virginia and it is sooooooo sad signs everywhere clearwire 14.99 amonth. I don’t pay that little I thought paying more meant faster service, not a chance. Personally I would have loved to have kept comcast but they made my husband so made with cable he took it all out of the house. I like utube, I used to download video to it, can’t with clearwire start at 8am finish 12midnite-no joke one video 10 min at that and it takes all day and night, called clearwire they pretended to work on tower and etc. my internet speed was so slow wasn’t even funny. I was told it is normal and now we are stuck for a year with this service. JUST SAY NO………GO ANYWHERE BUT CLEARWIRE.

  5. sharpe2 says:

    I am looking for people in the metro Atlanta area who have signed up with Clearwire. What is your experiece?

    • Rhona says:

      I been using the service for 3 months and have not experience any problems. I believe that clear wire is ready for the Atlanta market. Be sure to validate your service before you purchase (PLUG UP THE MODEM IN YOUR HOME check the signal strength). The Dealer I purchased from Bob 404-388-7194, was honest and want to ensure I would have great functionality. Previously, I had a land line, dsl and usb with AT&T and clear replaced all of this for 50% less. I have no problems with speed. Good Luck

  6. tim says:

    I have a friend that just started selling clearwire, he let me take his modem home to see signal strength. Only one light on modem lit up and to get that I had to open the window and set modem on the window sill, in the installation guide it said you needed at least two lights lit. Clearwire says that coverage is available in my area. well I am glad I checked first before purchasing. might be a good idea if you know any one who has Clearwire to use there modem and check it out. FYI

  7. Rhona says:

    I am located in Atlanta. I purchased the combo package attempting to save money on my internet service. I have the home service and usb. I was pleasantly surprised that the SERVICE IS TERRIFIC. I have the home phone attached to the service it enjoy the features and get a sharp clear reception. I have 5 signal lights on my modem, which was plug and play. My signal is strong enough my neighbors are using my internet service. I usb I have notice in certain areas fluctuation, but overall it provides the flexibility I was expecting. I believe the key to being happy with clear service is VALIDATING SIGNAL for your area and choosing the correct equipment for your service. My friend was interested after I shared how I am saving over $100 per month for my bundle. I let him borrow my modem to validate the signal strength, but he one received 1-2 bars. So, he realized that the home service would not work, but the laptop usb would be great for moving around town access. Maybe the deception people are complaining about is bad sales people attempting to make their quota and selling anything to everybody. I found it interesting how Clark Howard can endorse Clearwire, but consumers are complaining. I found it best to purchase from an experience dealer and not from the website or field rep. TESTING for VALIDATING SERVICE is KEY.

  8. glenn says:

    Rhona, give it time, soon it will slow down, they will start to choke the ports where you eat up bandwith. PS the number of green lights has nothing to due with the speed of the modem or how fast the net will be. 2 or 3 bars is usable and simply turning the modem even a 1/2 inch could change that.

    As far as your neighbors using your service? I guess your using a wireless router, you under stand if one of your neighbors, or a friend of your neighbors starts downloading kid porn, or music and movies from limewire or the others the FBI will be knocking on your door. Not to mention if your wireless is not locked down any nut case driving by can do the same. Be carefull. Any 10 year old can break through most of the security on your end, one day you could look at your computer screen and see nothing.

  9. Val says:

    Clearwire is garbage. I was suckered into a 2 year 29.99 contract and had good quality signal at first, but when the service started to get more and more popular, just like the old cable modem connections it slowed down to a griding halt.

    Calls to their tech support didn’t help resolve the slow connections and the 42.99 non contract price is a rip off.

    Just changed to Comcast this weekend and couldn’t have been any happier.

    Val

  10. Pachy says:

    I’ve had Clearwire Service since 2007. Now I will admit, It hasn’t been the most *reliable* service, but I do live in a rural area, on the edge of the service area. For that, I forgive most of the connectivity issues.

    As far as customer service, it’s passable, but since they’ve started to roll out to CLEAR in my area it’s harder to contact them. Not to mention that they’ve overcharged my credit card a few time, and I’ve yet to bother hassling them about it simply because I quit paying them. I had the bank close my account, and I’m going to harass them to pay me for the fees on that issue there soon, probably will join the class action suit against them. >D

    Anyways, the connectivity is subpar, they traffic shape and it’s godawful annoying how often my connection has flaked out since I got my CLEAR modem, I was getting much stabler service with my old modem.

    I’ve even chewed out their L2 support pretty hard for bitching at me for torrent traffic, I told them that if I ever got contacted again that I’d change service. They quit bugging me about it. >D

    It’s pretty damn sad that I, a customer, can browbeat L2 reps any day of the week. I don’t even bother with tech support anymore, since they’re so stupid, I know more about networking than they do, and I’m not even in college yet!

  11. james767 says:

    I,ve had clearwire for 2 months now. It runs better than comcast . I have 5 lights all the time. So don,t let the bad reviews fool you. But i suggest you take it home for a trail like i did

  12. Jesse Tollisin says:

    Wow this new clear modem really stinks. It is so so slow I thnk I would like to go back to dial-up.
    So slow to my home page that I think it has quit working. I wish I had my old Modem back. did a speed test and 330 kbits max zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!!!!!!!!

  13. k says:

    Really Pachy? – why is anyone bothering you bout torrent traffic? Must be because you are AUP – pfffffft

  14. Bryan H. says:

    Clearwire is most definitely traffic shaping and packet prioritizing and its doing it in an extremely obvious way.

    I subscribe to the highest package they offer, I get 2.5-3MBps from “speedtest.net” which is their preferred bandwidth test site. On the other hand I get 150KBps from from iTunes.

    I live in downtown Seattle and I’m getting 5 bars on my clearwire modem. Browsing is snappy but still downloads from iTunes or other reputable pay for download sites barely above dial-up speeds.

    I’ve had the service for almost 2 years and it keeps on getting worse. I just spent the last 9 months in the Netherlands where I had a 20MBps DSL connection that was full bandwidth 24/7. I know Qwest kind of sucks too, but at least they’re capping to 250GB transfer a month and not 300KBps to iTunes 24/7

  15. Mario says:

    I have been a clearwire customer for quite some time now, here in Winston-Salem, NC and my service has been top notch. I use a NetGear RangeMax Router in my home and the signal strength is great. I use Clearwire for my Internet TV viewing as well, and the service has never let me down. I make my living online so I think it says a lot. Just use common sense with the service and give it a chance. I can’t wait to get the new Wmax.

  16. Rhonda says:

    I DONT RECOMMEND Clearwire to anyone! We had their service when we lived in their service area..we moved out and I called them to cancel my service did everything they wanted and they are still taking 90.00 out my account every month! They will not stop if anyone knows anyone to turn these jerks into I would sure like to know!

  17. glenn says:

    Rhonda, go back a few postings and you will see a link in one of my comments. I have joined a class action that started in NY and they also have council in the Seattle area to file everything where Clearpuke is Based. And if you go Way back in the postings you will find the personal email addr to some of the ceo’s, I refered one person not to long ago and they actually let her off the hook when she explained that she moved and no longer could use the service. I dont recall who she emailed to get action, but you should email them all and hope one has a heart.

    Hope this helps.

  18. glenn says:

    Here Rhonda, Here is the link, if you go direct to their website and leave a email you may be able to join.

    http://www.tzlegal.com/files/clearwirecomplaint.pdf

  19. Keith says:

    I believe in transparency. Clearwire had been my internet provider for the past three and a half years. I live in a rural area just west of Waco, Texas. The Clearwire tower is 4.5 miles north of my location. The services have been outstanding. The computer technicians in Florida and New York offices have been outstandingly helpful.
    Late on Wednesday, Sept. 9th, 220j9, I was not able to access the internet. On the following morning I contacted the technicians for Clear wire. We spent literally hours trying to determine the problem. I moved the modem from room to room and various positions. At their instruction I unplugged the connections to the modem and then repulgged them as instructed. Thinking that the weather may be a problem, I decided to wait until the next day. On Friday another technician patiently took me through the same routine; to no avail accessing the internet. On Saturday the technician said that they would send a representative from Waco to check out the problem. That person was scheduled call me early Monday morning. I spent literally hours with Clearwire representatives or on hold making the correct connections.
    When the technician had not called by mid morning on Monday, I contacted Clear wire who the local person was scheduled to come to the house so that I could call locally. It was then that I first learned that Clear wire had upgraded the service in our area and I would no longer be served by them. My account would be closed when I returned their modem. No other explanation was given.

  20. Phil says:

    I’m living in Bend, OR temporarily and the house here has Clearwire. In short, it’s definitely not as advertised. It can have speeds almost as fast as DSL at times, but will often cut out or slow down (can be so slow that I can’t even check my gmail).

    I’m clearly within the coverage area and the average speeds are worse than the dial-up AOL that I had 10 years ago (no exaggeration). It’s fine if you only use it to read some news or check your email once in a while, but if you’re using it for anything more… get something reliable. If it were me, I wouldn’t even get internet if all I had to do was check email and news a couple times a day (just save the money and get an iphone).