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Robert Abrams

Clear Wireless Internet

by Robert Abrams
June 27, 2011
I recently took a trip where it was highly uncertain whether I would have internet access at the places I was staying. I tried out the wireless internet service from Clear (www.clear.com). I chose Clear because they appeared to offer the best combination of price and usage terms among several competitors. I also had received positive feedback on Clear from several of my tech-savvy colleagues.

I got the Clear 4G + 3G USB modem. This gave me the highest possible connection speeds in areas where 4G service was available, and the slower 3G as a back-up everywhere else. I was advised that I could count on 4G service in most major cities. I was also advised that I should expect Clear service anywhere I could obtain cell phone service.

It turned out that I had more internet access on the trip than I had expected, so I didn't use Clear as much as I expected to.

The few times I did use it, such as at an airport and at a cafe, the service worked fine. I was always able to connect to 4G. The speed of downloading email and accessing the web seemed more than adequate. Perhaps not as fast as a wired broadband connection, but certainly much faster than when I used to use my phone as a modem. The service wasn't perfect. One time it took two tries to get the Clear modem to connect. Every other time the Clear modem connected on the first try with a modest amount of time needed to establish the connection. In several hours of use, I did not experience any dropped connections. Dropped connections used to be a frequent problem with my phone used as a tethered modem.

So, keeping in mind that this was a somewhat limited test, I can recommend Clear's wireless internet service. There are some caveats, though. You have to be willing to pay about $60 per month. You have to agree to a two year service contract, which I think is a questionable thing to commit to because in two years the mobile wireless world may likely change. Personally, I would prefer to pay a little more in exchange for a month to month contract. One good thing about Clear is that they have a 30 day trial period, so you can get out of the contract without penalty in the first month. Thus, you can safely try out Clear to see if it meets your needs. At the time I looked into the options, Clear had the best trial period offer.

Why didn't Clear's service prove to be regularly necessary on my trip? First, my hotel in Seattle provided WiFi internet access included with the price of the room. If you are staying in a hotel that provides internet service for an extra daily charge, Clear could save you money. When I was in Los Angeles, I ended up staying with someone who did have internet service I could use, and I wasn't out and about enough to justify pulling out my laptop at a cafe or meeting. At home in NYC, I prefer wired broadband because it is faster and more flexibly meets my needs, and I have relatively few meetings outside my office.

Who in the dance community would need Clear's wireless internet service? If you frequently have meetings outside of your office at places with no internet connection, Clear could be useful. If you are a dance teacher and do not have WiFi at the studios at which you teach, Clear could be useful. Figure out the number of times per month you would have use of mobile internet access and then divide that number into $60. If the price per use feels reasonable to you, give Clear a try. With the 30 day trial period, you are only risking one month's fee.

Keep in mind that while Clear does have stores (and when I picked up my Clear modem, the person in the store was very helpful in getting it set up on my laptop), you have to return the modem by UPS. This is a minor hassle that Clear should really rethink, but fortunately, if you do decide to return the modem before the trial period is up, it is a hassle you only have to go through once.
Clear's 4G + 3G USB wireless internet modem

Clear's 4G + 3G USB wireless internet modem

Photo © & courtesy of Clear

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