Monica Paolini writes up her experience last week with Clear in Portland: Paolini, a Seattle-area wireless industry consultant, has a stake in WiMax--she's consulted for players in the industry--but she's also consistently honest about how technology performs. She visited Portland, Ore., for the Clearwire WiMax launch (under the Clear brand name), and collected some spot measurements of static indoor and outdoor service, as well as mobile. She plotted her test locations on a map.
The results are fairly stunning, with fast service almost everywhere, and few interruptions. WiMax's key current advantage is speed, with rates that could be 2 to 4 times the fastest available on cellular data networks, or as much as 5 to 10 times the mid-range to lower-end of cellular speeds.
Now, of course, Clearwire is throwing a lot more bandwidth at the wireless broadband problem: 10 MHz channels instead of 1.25 MHz (EVDO) or 5 MHz (UMTS/HSPA).
WiMax isn't suddenly proven to be the technology it's been promised to be, but the early reports continue to be good. What will define WiMax as a success is whether Clearwire can consistently deliver speeds, make mobile access work reliably, deal with congestion if they get a lot of uptake, and have an equipment ecosystem from their vendors that allows inexpensive adapters and home gateways.