Saturday, May 21, 2011

4G In Catonsville

I used to be a Xohm customer, and then Xohm switched to Clear. In time I was unhappy enough with Clear's service that it became time to switch myself, to Verizon FiOS. Xohm and Clear offered 802.16 (WiMAX) to home and mobile users at around, optimistically, 4Mb/s. FiOS is faster, typically 15Mb/s at my tier.

Clear ( is now marketing their wireless Internet vaguely as 4G. They are also advertising lower speeds than before, which makes it unclear what technology they are using. 4G is a marketing term, and from an engineering or technical perspective, meaningless. Granted, WiMAX is also a marketing term (IEEE originally referred to 802.16 as Wireless MAN), but at least WiMAX actually means something.

Xohm marketed their service as WiMAX, and reading the fine print it was clearly 802.16. Clear has dummied their web site down to the extent that there is nary a clue what technology they are using. Actually, a bit more digging leads to a release at that mentions legacy and mobile WiMAX, but also mentions partners using other technologies. Perhaps Clear is still predominantly 802.16, but advertised at a lower rate, which is consistent with what I was seeing when I canceled my Clear service. It may be that they are simply provisioning their towers at a lower rate per customer. The dumbing down of their web site is unfortunate.

Of course, Verizon is vague at their web site about what FiOS is, and I think there is an intentional effort on the parts of corporations in general to make it difficult for consumers to compare what different vendors are actually providing.

Why do I care? I just got my latest Verizon FiOS bill. It was $55, which is a lot for Internet service. Clear is $35, which is high for the poor performance they offer. So it was time to look around. Also time to reevaluate whether I really need Internet access at home.

One of the appealing things about Xohm when they came to Baltimore was the promise of $35 per month  for Internet access for life. But then Clear came in and reduce the service level. So it goes.

Of course, Judgment Day is today so maybe this is the beginning of my five months of torment.


J_Archie's World said...


Telecom service providers are snake oil salesmen. I thought the PUC governed what and how services were marketed to consumers.

4G is defined as a wireless service with download speeds of 100Mbps. All of the major smart phone vendors are touting 4G service and devices. Hmmm, can anyone download a high def movie in three minutes? If the answer is no, you are not on a 4G network.

I know, I know, there are choke points outside of the service provider's network which prohibit the download of data at 100Mbps.

Caveat Emptor!

Jeff Martens said...

Agreed. 4G is defined in a sense, but since the snake oil salesmen are using the term to describe everything wireless that's touted as faster than two paper cups and some twine, it has become meaningless.

Hayden said...

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