Clearwire: Initial Report

I’ve had a weekend or so to play with Clearwire. Here’s what I’ve noticed:


According to the Irish ISP speed test, I’m getting 2MB down, and approximately 300kb up. Sharing this among two computers isn’t much of a stretch: my girlfriend was able to comfortably run Software Update on her iBook (which hadn’t been updated in about 5 months) while I was able to maintain a 120kb/s download.

I’m not much of a PC gamer, but I’ve had no problems using Xbox live on Clearwire. Smooth, lagless gaming. Which means there’s no real excuse for me having my ass handed to me in Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow except my lack of real skills. Dammit.


Setup was certainly simple. They just provide you with a little box, about the size of two DVD cases put together, that you just put near a window. It presents you with an RJ45 connection, and that’s it. No messing about with usernames or passwords. Usually my first instinct when you give me a closed black box is to crack it open and see how it works, but after three months of struggling to get broadband in our apartment, I’m really not going to push my luck with this one.

My only concern is at the user end of the RJ45 connection is a public IP, meaning your computer is connected directly to the internet. And I’ll be damned if I’ll ever put have a Windows machine directly on the internet. But no worries, the clearwire works perfectly with my Linksys WRT54G.


Nothing too spectacular too far. The only thing I’ve noticed is a couple of DNS oddities – the DNS servers they give you seem to have trouble with a lot of hosts. For example,


Non-authoritative answer:
*** Can’t find No answer

versus a working server:


Non-authoritative answer: canonical name =

… but this can all be fixed by providing my own DNS server ahead of the ISP-provided ones.

I’m reasonably impressed so far. It’ll be interesting to see how it scales as more people jump on board.


4 thoughts on “Clearwire: Initial Report

  1. Susan says:

    This posting reads like an advertisement for Clearwire. My experience with Clearwire is that they throttle bandwidth when I use xbox live.

    According to the terms of their contract, they reserve the right to limit the speed of certain activities at their sole discretion. They are in legal trouble for throttling vonage voice over IP phone in favor of their preferred brand from Bell Canada. And I’m starting to think they throttle xbox live online gaming and streaming video as well. This isn’t what I signed up for.

    My internet speed tests fine but xbox live performs way slower on clearwire than on my friend’s cable internet with approximately the same speed. The lag is absolutely crippling when I play Gears of War. Streaming netflix movies don’t play well either. up to 15 minutes worth of buffering time per 30 minutes of program.

    I started with Clearwire 3 months ago on their cheapest plan. It works great for browsing web pages and emailing files under 2 mb.

    So my work is fine. But my husband’s movies and gaming are terrible on Clearwire. He complains for hours a night. How much would I have to pay, and to whom, to get an isp where his xbox live and streaming netflix movies worked?

  2. John Kelly says:

    Thanks Susan, if I was an anyway halfway decent blogger, I would have mentioned that a few months after my initial post, I started to experience the same problems you seem to be having – my Clearwire connection went to crap. The speed dragged to the point where even relatively low bandwidth protocols, such as ssh, were a pain to use. Try it at peak times, such as anytime after 8pm on a weekday, and I’d be lucky to get anything above dial-up. On top of that, their tech support guys were absolutely no help to us. I’ve moved away from Ireland now, but I’m still actively dissuading my friends from choosing Clearwire based on my overall negative experience with them.

  3. Susan says:

    Thank you, John. I see what you mean. I actually got a tech support rep named James at Clearwire to admit that my bandwidth had been throttled from 1.5mbs to an average of 500ks (cut by two thirds) because I had been caught using Netflix streaming videos and XBOX live.

    My ping speed was throttled to an average of 1086ms where 130ms or less is typical.

    Both of Netflix and XBOX live are perfectly legal services.

    However according to the Clearwire rep, that fall under Clearwire’s policy of reducing bandwidth to customers who use torrent sites.

    I spent about an hour and a half on the phone between tech support and Customer Service.

    Their company policy is to say that speed will gradually increase back to the speed I paid for if I stop using streaming media like Netflix and xobx live. I couldn’t get anyone to explain the algorithm or time frame that is used to set bandwidth back up to the level I am paying for.

    About 4 hours later that night my ping speed was up to 180ms and download speed up to about 900kps out of 1.5mbps.

    So that’s pretty good. At the speed tester site loads in 30 seconds instead of a minute and a half now.

    Thank you for your advice and blog articles on Clearwire. It’s nice to be able to get this off my chest. I hope you and I both find a better ISP!

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