I was excited to find out last year that CLEAR’s WiMAX service was available in the metro-Atlanta area where I live and work. I proceeded to find out if they had coverage in my area and wah, wah, wah, they didn’t. A few months later, I came across CLEAR at a festival booth and got to speak with a couple of sales weasels about it. They told me that not only was the coverage in and around my area but they demonstrated just how fast the service is (it really was). They even told me they’d put me in touch with my local rep who could help me confirm that I would indeed have coverage where I needed it. I thought, okay, now we’re going somewhere.
Well, I heard back from their rep and he said,sorry, no coverage in your area. My immediate thought was, Go figure! I asked about future coverage and never heard back. Contacted the rep again – nothing. At this point, I started to realize that I probably didn’t want to do business with this company. If they aren’t responsive in the pre-sales cycle, what’s it going to be like once they’ve got me? I even contacted the company through their Web site to see what the deal was. Never heard back. It was probably a technical glitch on my end.
I was persistent because a technology such as this could really help me in my work, and allow me to drop my existing (and expensive) “tethering” option I have for my cell phone so I can get modem-like Internet coverage with it. In fact, WiMAX solves a lot of problems for a lot of people – especially in (to use that beloved marketing term) the “last mile” where service is often the most difficult to get. It’s fast – or fast enough – for most types of Internet usage. It’s supposedly reliable. And, with its end-to-end encryption and authentication, it’s pretty secure, at least for a while.
But my hopes for WiMAX have died off for now. The mutual lack of concern between CLEAR and myself has me stuck where I started. Back to DSL, EDGE, and 3G.
I can understand CLEAR not offering coverage in a highly-populated suburb of metro-Atlanta (okay, just kidding), but I can’t understand why they wouldn’t at least write back to say “We don’t want your business” or something like that. Like many other good technologies and ideas, it’s the people involved that often impede adoption if not make it go away altogether…and thus the cycle of slow Internet access continues.
Apparently I’m not the only one who’s had issues with CLEAR – something not uncommon for early adopters of an emerging technology. Just Google the terms CLEAR or Clearwire and you’ll see what I’m talking about. In CLEAR’s defense, given the technical complexities and – especially – the infrastructure needed to build out something of that scale, they’re certainly not going to please everyone. I remain hopeful that I can eventually get WiMAX service in my area, but I’m not holding my breath.
Kevin Beaver is an independent information security consultant, expert witness, author, and professional speaker with Atlanta-based Principle Logic, LLC and a contributor to the IT Watch Blog. He can be reached through his website at www.principlelogic.com.