Testers say Clearwire's Clear WiMAX 4G technology isn't as fast as Verizon Mobile Broadband (*Est. $20 to $80 per month), which uses LTE 4G technology. But Clearwire offers unlimited plans, while Verizon caps its most expensive plan at 10 GB per month.
In tests, both Verizon and Clearwire deliver their promised download speeds: 5 to 12 Mbps or more with Verizon LTE, and 3 to 6 Mbps with Clearwire (both faster than the average U.S. wired home Internet connection). But with Clearwire, reviewers say the signal can vary considerably from neighborhood to neighborhood and even room to room in the same house. We also found several user complaints that they got fast speeds with Clearwire at first, but when they started doing heavy downloading, such as streaming Netflix or Hulu, the company deliberately slowed their network speeds. A company spokesman has said that Clearwire does restrict heavy users' bandwidth at times to free up bandwidth for other users. Some users have filed a lawsuit saying this is a bait-and-switch. Still, experts recommend Clearwire if you want unlimited mobile broadband. Clearwire offers two unlimited plans -- 4G-only (*Est. $45 per month) and 4G that falls back to 3G outside the coverage area (*Est. $55 per month) -- as well as a 200 MB 4G plan (*Est. $20 per month).
The most comprehensive review of Clearwire Clear Mobile Broadband comes from Mobile-Broadband-Reviews.com, which takes into account actual speed tests (its own and other sources'), prices, coverage and more. A number of reviews test Clearwire service in one particular city, including those at CNET, DigitalTrends.com, Wired and BullCityRising.com, a local news website in Durham, N.C. DSLReports.com publishes user reviews and rates mobile broadband companies accordingly. ARSTechnica.com and The New York Times report on customer complaints -- and a related lawsuit -- that Clearwire deliberately slows their network speeds.
If you want unlimited 4G, Clearwire and Sprint (which uses the Clearwire network) are the only two choices -- and Clearwire costs less, this review points out. It also points out data speeds for each major mobile broadband supplier (including actual tested speeds), coverage, plans and the variety of devices you can get, all in an easy-to-read infographic. This site also has a more in-depth, separate review on Clearwire.
Review: 4G Comparison [ Infographic ] 2011 Review, Marc Aarons, April 28, 2011
This review compares 4G mobile hotspots and USB modems from different carriers -- but it also passes judgment on the carriers' overall 4G performance. Clearwire's 4G USB modem gets the Editors' Choice tag, largely due to Clearwire's fast data speeds and unlimited plan. Still, Dong Ngo notes that Clearwire isn't available everywhere, and its download speeds aren't as steady as Verizon 4G's in tests here.
Review: 4G Mobile Internet Access Roundup, Dong Ngo, May 20, 2011
Clear WiMAX usually outperforms T-Mobile's fastest mobile broadband service in this Portland, Ore., test. Nick Mokey tests both services on a laptop on the street, in an office building, on a moving train and in an underground parking garage.
Review: Is T-Mobile's HSPA+ Really as Fast as 4G WiMAX?, Nick Mokey, Nov. 3, 2010
John C. Abell has a "blisteringly satisfying experience" using Clearwire's 4G on Manhattan's Upper West Side. It even works to watch TV on his Slingbox. But he notes that Clearwire covers only certain parts of certain cities.
Review: Ditching Your ISP and Switching to Clear 4G, John C. Abell, Nov. 15, 2010
The editors of BullCityRising.com, a website focused on local news in Durham, N.C, write a detailed review of Clearwire Clear Mobile Broadband's WiMAX service in that city. They test the 4G network for a month, and like most reviewers, they get good speeds when it works. However, they don't get a good signal in some areas of the city, and they note poor connectivity inside some buildings.
Review: Clear 4G Review: Durham's New Cable-Free Broadband Works Well, but Try Before You Buy, Editors of BullCityRising.com, Jan. 15, 2010
Clear mobile broadband gets this site's Bronze Award. It boasts a low price, but user feedback is mixed, and Clearwire gets mediocre average scores for reliability, tech support, services and value.
Review: Charts -- The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Contributors to DSLReports.com
Fifteen Clearwire users have filed a lawsuit accusing the company of throttling their network speeds, and then charging early-termination fees when they drop the slow service. The lawsuit also alleges that Clearwire is running a Ponzi scheme, selling Internet service it can't deliver to get money to expand its network. This article links to a copy of the lawsuit.
Review: WiMAX Throttling Lawsuit: Clearwire Can't Deliver the Goods, Jacqui Cheng, March 10, 2011
8. The New York Times
After The New York Times' Gadgetwise blog wrote about Clearwire's simple home Internet setup, so many readers complained that the blog ran this post. They say Clearwire throttles their speeds if they do any heavy downloading (such as streaming Netflix). A company spokesman tells The New York Times that Clearwire "does at times restrict bandwidth" to heavy users.
Review: Clearwire Comments: Some Pro, Many Con, Stephen Williams, Dec. 17, 2010