After Comcast had accidentally turned off my Internet and after much frustration trying to negotiate an affordable price with the customer service representative, I hung up and immediately began searching for other options. Unfortunately, when it comes to fast home Internet service, there isn’t a whole lot of competition, with Comcast in control of much of the non-University residing population of Boston. However, I did happen to receive a flyer in the mail the other day for a company called Clear which was offering unlimited 4G wireless Internet for your home, for only $35 per month.
I gave Clear a call to see what my options were and if I’d even be able to get a signal where I lived. After a few minutes on the phone, I decided to try it out and signed up for the $49.99 per month plan which would get me unlimited Internet with download speeds of 6 Mbps, which is what’s needed for streaming Netflix, one of my main concerns since I don’t have cable television. In addition, I bought the wireless modem for a one time payment of $49.99, although in retrospect I should have bought the $19.99 refurbished model, which is the same thing except used.
They offered free next day shipping of the modem so I could be up and running the following business day. It arrived exactly as scheduled and I had it setup within 5 minutes. The easy setup just involves plugging it in and waiting for it to get a signal. Of course, if you want a good signal then you need to move it around the house until you find a spot that gives you maximum strength for your location, up to 5 green lights which is comparable to the 1-5 bar signals you’d see on a mobile phone. After an hour of moving the thing around to different spots in my apartment, the best I could get was 3 signals… ugh.
Web Browsing & Netflix Test
Now, the testing begins. I immediately went online and fired up some websites such as Reddit, Facebook, and Gmail. Everything seemed to load fine but was noticeably slower than when using Comcast. I then fired up my Roku and started to stream some Netflix shows and the results were quite disappointing with the shows having to stop and buffer every 5-10 minutes. This is not an acceptable way to watch movies or shows. The last thing you want when watching a great movie is for it to suddenly pause in the middle of an important part of the plot.
The next thing I wanted to check was a speed test to see if the Internet speeds I was getting was close to what Clear had advertised. Although with a signal strength of only 3 lights, I assumed it probably wouldn’t be as good as the 6 Mbps down speed that rep told me I would get. It wasn’t even close. After testing multiple times through out the day and on different days, the best I could get was just under 1 Mbps down speed and that was at 2 AM when not many people are pinging the towers. Most of the time though, it was a measly .35 Mbps as shown in the speed test below.
Compare this to my Comcast service which would regularly get me speeds from 15-20 Mbps. Clearly, Clear is not gonna cut it. And while their $49 per month plan was cheaper than the approximately $70 I was paying Comcast, it didn’t seem like that good of deal considering I couldn’t even watch Netflix without it buffer. I’d hate to see what their $35 per month plan is like.
Fortunately, Clear was offering a 15 Day satisfaction guarantee so I should be getting a full refund on both the monthly service and the modem once I return it.
The good news is that since I essentially quit Comcast, I was allowed to sign-up for a new account via their Xfinity website and get their Performance package which offers 20 Mbps download speeds for $40 per month for the first six months, which then goes up to $50 per month after that. So in the end, I ended up saving some money after all.
While I’m not a fan of Comcast or Xfinity or whatever you call them, they are still the best game in town for home Internet unless you reside at one of the many colleges and universities in town. Of course what we really need is some Google Fiber to heat up the competition.
Clear Home Internet Reviews
What has been your experience with Clear’s 4g Internet service? I’m particularly curious to see what people have been able to get for speeds with a higher signal strength. Let us know in the comments below.