Wailing the Wireless Broadband Blues

12:00 PM Clearwire's WiMax service can't survive a two-block move -- how reliable can it be?

October 17, 2011

2 Min Read
Wailing the Wireless Broadband Blues

12:00 PM -- Picking on Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) seems way too easy these days, given the company's financial woes and likely loss of its biggest backer in Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S). (See Clearwire's Future Unclear at Sprint and Sprint Network Vision and 4G LTE Plans Should Integrate with Clearwire .)

But I think my recent experience as a Clearwire subscriber reflects on the quality of wireless broadband in general, as a substitute for wireline broadband.

I've used Clearwire for the past two years, not as my primary broadband service, but as a backup, and a useful tool when traveling. It usually works well in many of the places I have to visit regularly -- New York City, Las Vegas and the Washington, D.C., suburbs.

Last week, however, when I was counting on Clearwire so I could continue to work while helping my elderly mom to move, I made a painful discovery. Despite the fact she was moving all of two blocks, the broadband service that was rock solid in one apartment was DOA in the other.

While there were nearby Wi-Fi options, being forced to seek out free hotspots and buy coffee or lunch to use them was not what I had in mind, nor was it conducive to productivity. And it's irritating as hell to pay for a wireless broadband service and find yourself jostling for table space with everyone who hasn't.

As the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) considers wireless options for bringing broadband to unserved areas, and countless TV commercials tout 4G's ability to support video streaming and business applications, is the wireless industry ready to meet consumer expectations for service performance?

For me, that's now a wait and see proposition.

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

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