Make no mistake: 4G is a commuting game changer. Clearwire provided a 3G/4G modem to take for a spin. My test is simple. Can the connection stay up as well as Verizon Wireless' 3G service, which has two dead spots on a 60 minute ride?
The verdict: Clearwire pumps you up, but then lets you down with frequent dead spots. Memo to Clearwire: Just line the Northeast Corridor line with antennas. Commuters are your core audience.
The flip side: Clear 4G WiMAX: Beats Crappy Hotel Internet
No matter what direction you're headed you get whacked with dead spots, initializations and searching for network prompts that can last 10 minutes to 15 minutes a pop. Swapping to the 3G backup didn't quite work for whatever reason. That 4G to 3G handoff and back should be seamless. Bottom line: You can't reliably stream Howard Stern in the morning and work---a hassle that makes me way grumpy.
My experience raises a question: Do you want a consistent yet slower connection. Or bursts of brilliance? For work, you probably want the former.
Simply put, Clearwire best works for stationary work. The 4G connection just doesn't travel well. A few thoughts on the trip up to New York and back via NJ Transit.
- Coverage outside of Princeton was swell. You get optimistic. I even tweeted about my connectivity heaven.
- Two minutes later I realized I tweeted too soon.
- I was never able to get the 3G connection to work.
- Had three drops 10 minutes into the trip.
- Ultimately punted on it and used my Verizon 3G coverage.
- At Penn Station, Clearwire seemed to work.
- I dropped quickly.
- It wasn't until Newark things were rolling.
- Had a brilliant stretch for about 5 minutes.
A half hour into the trip I booted the modem with a bit of disgust. Actually, I wanted to throw the modem at the yapping yenta on her cell phone for the entire trip.