This week, I decided to look at Sage Telecom and Clear Wireless Internet as alternatives to AT&T phone and Comcast Internet respectively. I have friends who use Clear and Sage, so it is worth exploring. You can find out more about Clearwire in the Wiki article at Wiki on Clearwire.
Clear Wireless Internet
Time Warner and Comcast Cable contributions
In an article entitled Can 4G wireless take on traditional broadband? at Can 4G wireless take on traditional broadband?, we find this:
“Time Warner Cable and Comcast have each contributed billions of dollars to Clearwire to help the company complete its network. As part of the deal, they are reselling the 4G service as an add-on to their existing broadband customers.”
What Hoovers Said
Next I went online to my College of DuPage library Hoovers reference. I found out they were founded in 2003, make about half a billion in net profit and Sprint Nextel is their parent company. Here’s one thing that Hoovers said that causes me some concern:
“Rapidly growing Clearwire has never been profitable, and it expects to continuing losing money in the immediate future as it builds out its network to expand business. ”
Better Business Bureau rating
I did ask about their BBB rating on the BBB website and found it was A+.
My trip to Best Buy and Verizon
The Clear website told me I could buy their service at Best Buy. This would give me a chance to see it in action. But the sales staff at Best Buy told me they didn’t have a demo. They wanted to show and sell me a Verizon broadband card wireless solution. They showed me all the good stuff with none of the bad. Let’s do a bit more digging.
Next I stopped at a Verizon store. This was a pleasant experience. The sales person asked me questions about my Internet habits. He told me about the 9 or 10 gigabytes limit for this solution. Guess what? Nobody at Best Buy brought this point up. Perhaps this is why Verizon rates high on the JD Powers customer satisfaction rating.
So here is what Clear is offering:
- Unlimited data
- No long term contract
- A 15 day trial period
The final selling point
In It’s Clear, I Hate Comcast – Comcast vs Clear at Comcast vs Clearwire , the author makes these points:
- “ I did check out their website prior to calling just to verify I had coverage. You can check Clear’s coverage here. I would suggest that you zoom in close to your residence and be sure to click on the ‘Towers’ option to see how close in proximity their wireless transmission towers are to you.”
- “I am a little over one mile from my Clear wireless tower and regularly receive three out of five green lights on my wireless modem.”
In the earlier article, the author says this: “I will admit that both the download and upload speed are not as fast as they were with my Comcast account, but they are not terribly slower either (nothing that bothers me).”
Sorry Charlie (i.e. reference to Charlie Tuna). I also live about a mile from a Clear cell tower. I did test the speeds of both Comcast and Clear using Speed Test at Speed Test. For Comcast, I had ping of 14, download speed of 24.70 megabytes per second and an upload speed of 4.19 megabytes per second. But for Clear, the download speed was 9.10 megabytes per second and upload speed of 1.03 Megabytes per second. This means the Comcast download speed was about 6 times faster and their upload speed was about 4 times faster. These tests were conducted within 10 minutes of each other.
Then there is the problem of the Linksys modem. It works OK with no changes for a Motorola cable modem connected to Comcast. I can’t get the Clear modem to work with my router – only through a direct computer connection. The forums tell me the router should connect with no problem – even Clear tech support is referenced in the forums.
Based upon these points, I canceled immediately. Now I might look at their mobile option for an individual PC in the future. It would be great for going to places without a WiFi option. Comcast:
- Costs the same as Clear after their initial price reduction period is over (i.e. that is for my particular installation).
- Their support is 24/7.
- They offer a 30 day trial period vs the Clear 15 day one.
- They throw in a free Norton security suite for each computer (i.e. AT and T does something similar)
- Is Clearwire using offshore support? The two times I called support I got one person with an Indian background and one with a Greek background.
Run tests with 2 computers, if you look at Clearwire for your home service. Hook up one with Clearwire and another with an area service that offers a trial period, like Time Warner, Comcast, AA and T, etc. Run several Speed tests to see how they compare.
These guys make me mad. You can find out more about them in the Wiki article at Wiki on Sage Telecom. I saw an option for service for around 30 dollars. I went through the order process. When I got almost to the end, it said my estimated bill is about 50 dollars. What? I called Sage and they tried to tell me about taxes, etc. AT&T doesn’t add $20 worth of fees in taxes, etc., to my bill. On the plus side, they do get an A+ rating with the BBB.
Now I don’t like Vonage and I wrote many articles about my experience. But they had an option where you clicked on the advertised price and it gave you an accurate estimate of your final bill – including an itemized breakdown – all before you start the sign up process. It’s in their start-up cost calculator off their main website. Sage reminds me of MagicJack Plus, where they don’t show the product price on their website. Here’s the Vonage estimated charges on their world plan – far less than the approximately 20 dollar fees from Sage Telecom:
|Estimated Monthly Service Charge|
|(after 3 month promotional period)|
|Monthly Service Charge||$25.99|
|County 911 Fee||$0.50|
|Emergency 911 and Information Services Fee||$1.99|
|Federal Program Fee||$3.33|
|Regulatory, Compliance and Intellectual Property Fee||$1.99|