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Learn about Clearwire 4G WiMAX Service

Clearwire Corporation is a wireless internet service provider (WISP) serving markets in the United States, Belgium, and Spain. Clearwire, founded by cellular phone pioneer and AT&T Wireless Services founder Craig McCaw in October 2003 is headquartered in Bellevue, Washington. Clearwire primarily uses a wireless technology called WiMAX transmitted from cell sites over licensed spectrum of 2.5–2.6 GHz in the United States and 3.4-3.6 GHz in Spain.


In the United States, Clearwire offers CLEAR 4G service with average download speeds of 3 to 6 Mbit/s with bursts over 10 Mbit/s. Actual CLEAR network performance may vary and is not guaranteed.

Clearwire also offers its own Voice over IP service in some areas for an additional monthly fee. As with any ISP, the listed transfer rates are under ideal conditions; actual results vary greatly depending on factors such as service load, distance, and obstacles between the transmitter and receiver. Another factor is that available bandwidth is shared between users in a given radio sector, so if there are many active users in a single sector, each may receive reduced bandwidth.

Expedience Technology

In pre-WiMAX markets in the U.S. and Belgium, Clearwire uses the Motorola Licensed Point-to-Multipoint Expedience system, which is part of the MOTOwi4 family of products. They also offered the same service in Ireland (until purchased by Imagine Communications) & Denmark (until purchased by ERLO Group and operating as Skyline) also. The service is considered true Non-Line-of-Sight (NLOS). Customers can choose either the Motorola Expedience Residential Subscriber Unit (RSU) or the Motorola Expedience PC Card in both the PC Card and ExpressCard form factors. The RSU incorporates automatic adaptive modulation for increased throughput and network capacity. Users are connected to the Internet at indoor locations throughout the entire system's coverage area. The unit functions as an Ethernet bridge (Layer 2) device, interfacing a standard Ethernet over twisted pair connector. The PC Card incorporates the same automatic adaptive modulation for increased throughput and network capacity with the added portability of a laptop CardBus card. The service is not unique to Clearwire. Several companies throughout the world use this same product line from Motorola. For instance: Inukshuk Wireless Partnership of Canada, Beamspeed and Commspeed of Arizona, AccessTEL of Bangladesh, and Unitel of Guatemala all use the same type of service and equipment.

4G WiMAX Service

CLEAR in Manhattan

Branded CLEAR, the company, on January 6, 2009, unveiled Portland, Oregon as its first 4G WiMAX wireless broadband market, enabling consumers and businesses to access the Internet, wirelessly, at broadband speeds.

Since the Portland launch, the company has expanded its 4G network to additional markets including: San Francisco, Sacramento, Merced, Visalia, Los Angeles, Modesto and Stockton, Calif.; Denver, Colo.; Bridgeport, New Haven and Hartford, Conn.; central Washington, D.C.; Wilmington, Del.; Miami, Tampa Bay, Orlando, Daytona Beach and Jacksonville, Fla.; Atlanta and Milledgeville, Ga.; Honolulu and Maui, Hawaii; Boise, Idaho; Chicago, Ill.; Boston, Mass.; Baltimore, Md.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn.; St. Louis and Kansas City, Mo.; Charlotte, Raleigh, and Greensboro, N.C.; Trenton and New Brunswick, N.J.; New York, Syracuse and Rochester, N.Y.; Las Vegas, Nev.; Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland, Ohio; Salem, Portland and Eugene, Ore.; Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Reading, Lancaster and York, Pa.; Providence, R.I.; Nashville, Tenn.; Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Abilene, Amarillo, Corpus Christi, Killeen/Temple, Lubbock, Midland/Odessa, Waco and Wichita Falls, Texas; Salt Lake City, Utah; Richmond, Va.; Seattle, Tri-Cities, Yakima and Bellingham, Wash.

Sprint, Clearwire's largest investor, resells Clearwire's 4G network service as Sprint 4G in over 71 markets across the United States.

Clearwire investors Comcast and Time Warner Cable resell Clearwire’s 4G mobile broadband service in a number of markets, including New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Portland among others bundled with their cable, home phone, and residential Internet services.

On June 4, 2010 Sprint introduced the first commercially available 4G cellphone in the U.S. the HTC EVO 4G. The device combines Clearwire’s 4G network with Sprint’s 3G network and Google’s Android operating system, creating a multimedia-heavy device Sprint hopes will set it apart from 3G smartphones like the Apple iPhone.

In January 2011, Clearwire started offering 4G WiMAX service in Spain under the brand Instanet instead of the Expedience service that it was previously offering before that.

Criticism and Legal Action

In 2005, Clearwire drew criticism from phone operator Vonage, who claimed the network, among others, was blocking their services. Clearwire did not immediately respond to the claim, even though subsequent testing showed that Vonage calls were indeed being connected over the Clearwire network. It could be argued that providers of high-bandwidth wireless services, such as Clearwire, are threatened by VoIP providers who utilize the internet link to compete on the same market.

In April, 2009, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Clearwire. The complaint alleges that the company's advertisements are deceptive in their promises of fast, reliable Internet access, and of Internet-based telephone service that's superior to conventional wired phone service. More specifically, it alleges that consumers of the firm's Internet access service frequently experience speeds that are as slow as those available with a dial-up modem, and that both Internet access and Internet telephone service are often entirely unavailable. The lawsuit also claims that when consumers try to cancel their contracts for these or any other reasons, the company charges a pro-rata early termination fee of up to $220, and that this fee cannot be lawfully imposed or collected. Clearwire declined to comment on these allegations, citing corporate policy. The claim has since been dismissed by the judge and is currently on appeal.

In September 2010, Clearwire introduced a dynamic network management system, which limits users who consume disproportionate amounts of wireless data. Many users have reported that their terms of service were modified retroactively to reflect the new policy, and Clearwire itself has unofficially acknowledged this. In December of the same year, a class-action lawsuit was filed in Washington alleging deceptive advertising concerning the company's policies of bandwidth throttling and not disclosing early-termination charges.

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