Review of Clear 4G WiMax in DFW/North Dallas

So I’ve been chomping at the bit waiting for Clear to deploy in DFW.  I purchased the card back in December 2009 pretty much as soon as I could in the area.  So far I have been pretty impressed by the service.  I work in IT and it’s always such a pain in the butt to be on-call and having to stay near an internet connection.  I have been tethering my iPhone for this purpose for some time but 3G tethering leaves much to be desired.  Specifically 3G speed barely provides enough bandwidth to run a decent Citrix desktop connection, and even then it is still very sluggish.  With Clear 4G technology when I have a good connection in excess of 3Mbit downstream most of the time.

Sprint 4G vs. Time Warner Road Runner Mobile vs. Clear?

It’s all the same technologies, same towers, mostly the same devices.  Clear is consolidation of many different companies and backers and therefore the same service is sold under different names.  Pick whichever gives you the best deal or offer. does appear to give the best offers though.


I opted for the Motorola USB modems (the only option at the time).  They are pretty basic and have only a single LED that flashes on the front.  The LED flashes red with there is no signal or it is not connected, or the flashes green if it is connected based on traffic.  There is no visible way to determine signal strength on the device itself.  They include a cheap USB adapter that allows you to angle the modem, left right etc.  This little cheap USB adapter is junk and I expect it to break over time.  At which point there is not really a way to angle the modem up.  There is a newer design USB modem available which seems to have a pop out USB adapter which is a better solution.


I was enticed by the two mobile devices for $50/month (which they have already increased the price to $65/mo).  This is unlimited downstream, and 1Mbit capped upstream. They offer plans as cheap as $30/month for 1.5Mbit capped downstream speeds.  However, the bundle plans appear to be the best bang for the buck and maybe it is worth sharing a plan with a friend.

No Contract Please:

I highly recommend ordering this from due to the fact that there are no contract options available for no additional cost.  If you buy this from Best Buy, Frys, or Radio Shack they will get you in a 2 year contract with early cancellation fees.


Clear modem on Mac OS X Snow Leopard.  First snag right out of the gate was that the Motorola USB Modem did not support Mac OS X Snow Leopard, thankfully they did release a client for Mac OS X Snow Leopard on their website as soon as I had it so that was quickly resolved.  I also tried the Windows client and that also worked well.  I kind of wish that I didn’t have to run a client application all the time while connected but this is standard fair for 3G adapters.


This is the real sticking point with any wireless technology. The coverage for Clear is pretty fairly good where I have tested it in DFW.  I have heard that they do not yet have all the towers active in the metroplex.  The coverage gaps do seem pretty widespread and while their advertising gives the impression you can stream TV on the train I highly doubt this is possible.  I’ve had my laptop on trying to stream This American Life down the highway and it cuts in an out and that is a much less bandwidth intensive (and cached) technology.  However, at the point of writing I have tested this in as many locations in the area as I feel to and it works either very well or not at all.  Unfortunately my house in Frisco, TX I can barely get a workable signal and get pretty terrible stream rates, however just a mile away I can nearly triple my bandwidth.  In my testing it appears Clear is putting preference to more heavily trafficked commercial areas more so than residential areas.  It seems as though even a mile away from great signal you can just about drop off and not be able to connect at all.

Other Markets:

So WiMax currently is only in a handful of markets.  And for the heavy traveler there are many gaps which don’t make sense.  I did use my Clear card in Houston, TX (even though they have not official launched there) a few weeks ago and it did work quite well.

Hardware Considerations:

So I did talk with a Clear representative at length and the short is that the USB modem is the weakest in their arsenal.  The powered WiMax Modem/Wifi Routers pump out the best signal strength and have the best antennas.  Therefore simply moving to a different device may very well yield 100% better speeds.  The new Mobile USB modem I am told runs cooler and has a nifty external antenna attachment which should help things.  I am trying to get my hands on on of these devices and perhaps running around town and doing another round of testing.


Overall I am very impressed by Clear WiMax technology in North Dallas.  The coverage while some areas is almost nonexistent the majority of areas that I tested did beat 3G tethering devices by a longshot.  3G tethering in my experience pretty much maxes out at 1Mbit regardless of carrier.  And the cost seems very reasonable, while 3G cards run $60/month plans (for 5GB usage), Clear offers better service for $30/month for a single device.  And with the bundle options for two devices it’s cheaper per device.  I personally think the Business 3G/4G service is a huge bargain at $55/month (which is dumbfounding considering Sprint offers a 3G only device for $60/month).  So long as you stay in the area for the most part the mobile device works great.  The last caveat is Verizon is supposed to roll out LTE technology later this year and maybe these coverage gaps will be nonexistent, but at the monthly rate I’m sure Clear will be competitive.

Tested Locations:

Plano – US Highway 75 & Plano Parkway – Tested 3-17-10

  • Downstream = 1.47Mbit
  • Upstream = 1.03Mbit (capped at 1Mbit)
  • Ping = 78ms

Dallas – North Dallas Tollway & Trinity Mills Road – Tested 3-17-10

  • Downstream = 8.65bit
  • Upstream = 0.98Mbit (capped at 1Mbit)
  • Ping = 89ms

Carrollton – Keller Springs & Marsh Lane – Tested 3-17-10

  • Downstream = 1.22Mbit
  • Upstream = 0.04Mbit (capped at 1Mbit)
  • Ping = 137ms

Addison – Belt Line Dr & Marsh Lane – Tested 3-17-10

  • Downstream = 8.02Mbit
  • Upstream = 0.98Mbit (capped at 1Mbit)
  • Ping = 75ms

Addison – North Dallas Tollway & Belt Line Road – Tested 3-17-10

  • Could not connect

Richardson – Preston Road & Frankford Road – Tested 3-17-10

  • Downstream = 3.84Mbit
  • Upstream = 1.05Mbit (capped at 1Mbit)
  • Ping = 84ms

Plano – Preston Road & Park Road – Tested 3-17-10

  • Downstream = 4.15Mbit
  • Upstream = 0.98Mbit (capped at 1Mbit)
  • Ping = 82ms

Frisco – Highway 121 & Preston Road – Tested 3-17-10

  • Downstream = 4.16Mbit
  • Upstream = 1.05Mbit (capped at 1Mbit)
  • Ping = 76ms

Frisco – Preston Road & Lebanon Road- Tested 3-17-10

  • Downstream = 3.5oMbit
  • Upstream = 0.98Mbit (capped at 1Mbit)
  • Ping = 71ms

Frisco – About a mile from Preston Road & Leabanon Road- Tested 3-17-10

  • Downstream = 1.41Mbit
  • Upstream = 0.04Mbit (capped at 1Mbit)
  • Ping = 158ms

The Goods:

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 17th, 2010 at 10:49 am and is filed under Reviews, Technology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “Review of Clear 4G WiMax in DFW/North Dallas”

Will May 19th, 2011 at 7:23 pm


Really appreciate the review, im considering dropping TWC due to awful QOS downstream on their network.. They just seem to use terrible peering and Customer Service is like a big Zoo.

Any update on Clear with you? Have you gotten the home kit? How does it handle two way live video?


Sean May 19th, 2011 at 7:35 pm

I highly doubt you will be happy with Clear if you are unhappy with Time Warner. I still have a TWC at my house and I wouldn’t trade it for the Clear ever. Hardwire will beat any wireless technology. Additionally it wasn’t the case when I first started service but they now have a soft-cap limit of 8GB/month and past the threshold they will throttle you down. As well as based on terms of service P2P technologies are forbidden (however they don’t stop you but there is likely QOS in effect).

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