Clear WiMax Intial Review

Clearwire has started marketing WiMax in Atlanta, GA under the Clear brand. From what I gather, WiMax was tested in Portland, OR with great success, quietly launched in Las Vegas, NV and has now been deployed in Atlanta, GA.

The big offer at the moment is ‘Pick 2’; You can get a home WiMax and a mobile WiMax connection for $45/month (or two mobile WiMax connections). The home WiMax connection is rated at 6Mbps down/512K up and the mobile WiMax connection is rated at 4Mbps down/512K up.

The home and mobile modems can either be purchased outright or leased for $4.99 per month for each device.

I will go over each of the connection options in better detail:

Clear WiMax Home Modem

image The home modem is a Motorola CPEi 25150 (also called the CPEi 150). Clear sells this device online for $79.99, or leases for $4.99/month.

There aren’t a lot of instructions in the box, but I managed to figure out the five lights on top of the modem indicate the signal strength. From what I have found, you will not be able to get a decent connection unless you can find a spot in your house that can maintain at least 4/5 lights (and I have been unable to find a 5 bar spot in my house- but I have no doubt that I will spend the next few weeks looking for that perfect spot ).

I was only getting 3-4Mbps so I returned to the clear Kiosk to ask a few questions. A few things the sales person told me:

  • The device is directional; the side with the Motorola logo is the antenna and I should direct it to my closest WiMax Tower
  • The higher in elevation the modem is, the better

The Clear rep pulled up a Google Earth map with a map of all the WiMax towers in Atlanta. We entered in my address and she was in the signal range of two towers (#555 and #174). The towers are north and north west of my house, so I needed to point the antenna side in that direction.

Finding a good spot is most aggravating part of this entire process

Setting the modem on a table, I usually get 2 bars. If I rotate the modem 15 degrees in either direction, I may gain or lose a bar. If I change the elevation of the modem by 2-3 inches the same results can happen. If I move the modem left/right or forward/back about an inch, the same change in signal happen again!

From what I gather on Motorola's site, the device utilizes MIMO (multiple in, multiple out) antennas to improve signal reception.

To further complicate matters, the presence of a human body seems to assist in the signal reception (perhaps the signals are bouncing off me and reflecting back into the modem?)- so I may get a solid 4 bars and when I walk away it drops back down to 3 bars…

I eventually found a solid 4 bar connection in a most unexpected place; atop an external my server case in the data closet- in an area with the highest amount of random EM signals (two servers, wireless router, multiple external devices, security camera power, etc.) in my house (which they tell you to avoid).

One additional factor is that the speed is not generally instantaneous when you move the router or connect to the Internet; it will start slow (300-400KBps) and go up to full speed in about a minute- so with each movement of the router you will need to wait to check your new speed.

That said, once you find the sweet spot in your house, you can get some pretty decent throughput:

Bandwith gauge from NewsLeecher:
Note: the ‘max’ is just the speed I adjusted the graph to represent.


At an average of 1.04MB/sec it is about 8.3Mbps (if I did my math right)- which is about 28% faster than my BellSouth 6Mbpx DSL connection. It may not be quite the 12Mbps burst speed that Comcast offers (which is not actually stated on their page), but it also does not have a bandwidth limit (like the 250GB/month cap for Comcast).

Note: to get into the management of the Motorola CPEi 25150, you will need to open a web browser and point it at the device. If you are plugged directly into the modem with your PC, this will be your default gateway (my default was


The default password for the device is ‘motorola’.

The modem interface is fairly basic, but you can setup port forwarding, DMZ host address, enable/disable firewall and setup a dynamic DNS client (choices are from dyndns.org, dyns.cx and zoneedit.com).

The status screen will give you some useful information on the router:


The modem has a basic firewall (i.e. you can turn it ‘on’ or ‘off’) and the device does have a DHCP server so you could plug it into a switch and serve up multiple LAN PCs with Internet access. However, if you require wireless 802.11a/b/g/n access, you will need to put a router in the mix.

Clear WiMax USB Mobile Modem

image The wireless mobile device is a Motorola USBw 25100. Clear sells this device online for $59.99, or leases for $4.99/month.

The device is rated by Clear to get up to 4Mbps- but I have already hit 10Mbps (while stationary) with this guy in my Windows 7 laptop.

The adaptor comes with an interesting adaptor that goes in-line with the modem and the USB port and allows the modem to pivot up to 90 degrees on two axis. The purpose of this is to allow the modem to be perpendicular to the laptop keyboard- I assume this is both for better reception and to help prevent it from being broken off in a USB port when someone forgets it is plugged in.

The included CD is for Windows XP and Vista x86, but doing a driver search on the CD in Windows 7 turned up the correct drivers. The software consists of of a connection manager (that must be used as it does not create a dial-up network adaptor as the Verizon/Sprint EVDO modules do) that runs as a tray icon. While the icon is up, it also indicates signal strength with 10 green blocks that illuminate as the signal get stronger.

Coverage is good in Atlanta and Alpharetta- but this is also a line-of-sight connection. If there is a large concrete building between you and the only WiMax tower in range, odds are that you will not get a very good signal.

I did not do extensive bandwidth tests, but it appears that the USB modem can obtain similar connection speeds while stationary. In motion, these speeds will vary as you will be moving between WiMax towers.

Clear Spot Mobile WiFi Access Point

http://gpsobsessed.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/clear-spot-router.jpgI also purchased a ‘Clear Spot’ access point. Clear sells this device online for $139.99.

This device is a Cradlepoint Wipipe PHS300 with a ‘CW’ addition at the end of the model number to indicate it has the Clear firmware on it.

The Clear Spot is a battery powered (AC adaptor is included) WiFi router with a USB connector. The USB slot is designated to be used with the Clear WiMax USB Modem. Using these devices together will give you a portable WiFi access point that can be used by up to 8 devices.

The management web pages of the Clear Spot are very reminiscent of a D-Link router interface, including the use of ‘Gaming’ as the port forwarding selection:


There are three dual color (red/green) LEDs on the Clear Spot:

  • power on/charging status
  • WiMax signal
  • WiFi Signal

The WiMax signal is either on or off- there is no indication of signal strength; if it is red you do not have a signal. The web interface does offer signal indication on the ‘Status’ page:


There is a very good review of the Clear Spot on Gizmodo, so I will not go into detail on how it performs.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I am very impressed with the speeds and price that WiMax can offer. The setup can be a little picky and I will be researching the options for other WiMax routers with external antennas for my residence to try to get a solid lock of the fabled 5 bar connection.

The nationwide coverage is not very good at the moment (only Atlanta, Las Vegas and Portland) and the device cannot be used on the long Interstate stretches in-between cities. There are several additional cities going live by the end of 2009 and more promised for 2010 and later. (Hopefully New Orleans will soon be on this list).

There is a 7 day trial for the service and I have two days remaining to decide to migrate from DSL to WiMax or return everything. So far I am leaning towards keeping everything. Today I will test my remote connectivity (without the benefit of a static IP- which costs $10/month from Clear!) and see if there are any issues with remote desktop/camera viewing/etc. over WiMax. I will try to post my final decisions in a few days…


  1. Smith8:42 PM

    I am working on the same thing trying to set up my home server over clear. Keep us updated on your progress.

  2. I am going crazy trying to make Clear work with my Linksys WRT54GL router. Any ideas on how what settings to use?

  3. I got the home working here in Alpharetta with absolutely no issues with my DLink wireless router... but I can't get the USB to work in my W7 laptop. I'm a little frustrated.... I even downloaded and updated the Clear Connection Manager software.

  4. Anonymous1:17 PM

    @ Randy is surviving. The USB dongle or software for that matter doesn't work with Windows 7 or OS X on Mac's. They may release an update, but no mention on support sites

  5. I was able to get the Clear WiMax software to install on Windows 7 x64; I installed the software from the CD and let it update online. I could not get the downloaded software from the Clear website to work.

  6. I am a Clear authorized dealer for Atlanta. My company provides free in-home demos, free professional installation, and free stuff when you sign up. I focus mostly on North Fulton (Roswell, Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Milton), but will go anywhere in the metro area.

    I've run speedtests all over Roswell, and i usually get 8-12mbps downstream with the USB modem while traveling in my truck. I get anywhere from 4-8mbps inside my house, and 10-12 outside the house in my neighborhood. The USB modems are NOT capped, so the 4mbps advertised speed is the "average". Your real speed really depends on your distance to the tower and obstructions.

    With the RSU (residential modem) that is supposedly capped at 6mbps I usually get 8mbps downstream. The upload speed is a constant 500kbps with both the USB modem and RSU.

    Clear currently has 459 live towers in the metro area, with 200 more about to go live, and another 400 under construction (will be live in late 2009 or early 2010). We currently cover about 700 square miles and they are bringing new towers on-air daily. There will be over 1,000 towers when the Atlanta build-out is complete.

    If you order directly from Clear you have to wait for shipping and install the equipment yourself. If you buy it at a store such as Radio Shack or one any of the other wireless retailers, they won't come to your house for a free demo or install it for you. The benefit of ordering through an authorized dealer such as myself is the personalized service (and free stuff).

    The free profressional installation includes setting up your home network (wired or wireless), setting up your laptop, finding the best signal in your home, etc. We are a full service IT company and I personally have 17 years experience in the IT field.

    Free stuff we are giving away currently when you signup through us (depends on the plan you sign up for):
    Linksys Wireless-G or Wireless-N router (for home)
    Linksys Wireless-N laptop cards or Wireless-N PCI cards for dekstops
    4GB & 8GB Sandisk USB flash drives
    We will pay your $35 activation fee (if you go with no contract)
    Free Clear Voice Adapter (ATA)
    We will offer more freebies as we get them into inventory.

    I have cable internet at home as well as a backup AT&T DSL connection (charter has lots of outages), and i've actually cancelled the DSL service because Clear is much more reliable. I would recommend Clear to anyone except hardcore gamers (because of the 60-80ms latency to the tower). For everyone else, it works great and the latency is not even noticeable.

    I also highly recommend Clear Voice - i replaced my charter VOIP home telephone with it and i love it! It uses the same adapters as vonage, but the call quality is much better than vonage and Clear offers more features. And it's only $25/month and $15 to buy the phone adapter (ATA).

    I've also tested the ClearSpot w/ USB modem indoors, and it is truly an amazing device! I get 5-7mbps down inside my home through the ClearSpot (someone stated in a previous post that it is limited to 2mbps - this is NOT true). I have not tested the ClearSpot outdoors yet, but I imagine the speeds are even greater. The WiFi range is excellent for such a small device, and it has a 4-hour battery so you can take it anywhere.

    Call or email me to setup your free in-home demo and/or to order service. You have the option to lease the modems for $4.99/month if you get the 2-year contract (waived $35 activation fee, $120 pro-rated early termination fee). If you go with no contract, you must purchase the equipment and there is a $35 activation fee (we will pay it for you!) You may also contact me if you have ANY questions about the Clear service or how it works.

    Contact information:
    CMD Enterprises
    Chris Dixon - Owner
    cell: 404-988-6098
    email: cdixon@clearlyatl.com
    web: www.clearlyATL.com (website is still in BETA)

  7. you mentioned you wouldn't suggest this for hard core gamers because of latency to the towers. Any thoughts on that? I just got Clear but when we hooked up the XBOX with an online gaming, kept getting kicked off the game (or killed).

  8. I live in Sandy Springs, just south of the river.

    I chose the pick two plan (Home and Mobile). So far the service is horrendous.

    I cant get more than 2mbps download (with a laptop connected directly to the modem) and less than .443 upload speed...even with three lights lit up on the modem. I believe it has to do with all the trees between me and what looks like a tower on Roswell road.

    I also do XBOX Live gaming. I get very bad latency (showing my connection strength as one red bar) and it constantly loses my connection.

    People, if you're expecting Comcast speeds from Clear, think again. If you do any sort of downloading with BitTorrent or gaming on your consoles, I'd skip Clear WiMax for sure. I think this is more for casual internet usage.

    Mine is going back today.

  9. ...oh, but I forgot to mention that I will be keeping the USB modem and using their Day pass from time to time (perfect for my Netbook at DragonCon).

  10. Hanver: Ah- a fellow DC-er! Less than a month to go!

    I have a bad feeling you could be disappointed with WiMax at the Con- unless you are not staying in one of the main 'concrete bunker' hotels (or you get lucky and you are on a side of the hotel facing the tower).

    We have an office on the 16th floor in Buckhead and I get a flat 0 signal at my desk as there is another building between me and the WiMax tower; It looks like it only takes a few feet of concrete & steel to completely block the WiMax signal (2.5Ghz?).

    Ironically, I get about 10Mbps in the parking lot in front of our building (which has a clear view to the tower).

    I may try to scout out the con buildings with a netbook and my WiMax dongle if I have time before the Con;

  11. How did you go about finding the WIMAX towers on Google Earth? I am in Mid-Town next to GA Tech and I am having a hard time getting more than one signal bar. Thanks for the help.

  12. Anyone, got Vonage to work with CLEAR WiMAX? I have a friend that is having problems. Thanks.

  13. Has anyone got Packet8 working with clear. I am getting one-way voice. I cannot hear anything.

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  15. I have an odd question. What is the DC voltage and amperage rating for the AC adaptor for the Motorola CPEi 150 WiMax modem? Also what is your overall experience with Clear WiMax after using it for a while? Finally, do you know where I can get a tower map for Google Earth? Thanks.

  16. Hey James. My experience with CLEAR has been great so far. I have been using it for about 4 months now and wonder how I lived without it. Check out www.clear4u.net Call or fill out the contact form to get help with that tower map.

  17. James,

    The included adapter with my CPEi 150 modem is 13v/1.3A.

    I am still looking for copy of the Google map data for the WiMax towers that exists outside of the Clear kiosks.

  18. No real need putting a battery behind he modem, just get an inverter and you are set.... Next question for anyone in the know, anyone taken a modem apart yet? Looking at the options of adding an external antenna and booster....

    Stew1tx at aol dot com

  19. For anyone having issues with getting the "Clear" Motorola WiMax USB Adapter USBw 25100 to work with Win7/64bit go to: "http://www.clear.com/support/download" and download this file:"Version 1.05.0035.0 "

    Happy Web Surfing~!

  20. i ran out today and got a pelican case and 50' of DC cabling, i have enough lan cable to run it out to the back yard. (got to love having a fry's in alpharetta) old milton by 400 is covered good for the usb dongle, this is what got today in the car http://www.speedtest.net/result/677156015.png ..... the home modem we have taped to the rear window of the house and it does pretty good http://www.speedtest.net/result/675942114.png (3 to 4 lights) ping times decrease with signal strength.

  21. Stew1tx the author of this blog already ripped apart the home modem and found external mini's for antenna attachments.

  22. Hey Doc, can you take a picture of you setup with the Pelican case? I am exploring some outdoor options too. Would like to see what you setup.

    william (at) wimaxatl.com

  23. I have my Clear router and it has 5 lights anywhere I go in my house and yet I only get 700kbs to 1.2mbs downloads. Talked with Clear and they say there's a problem with 2 of my 3 towers. Anyone else had this problem?

  24. @Ward; is that speed a constant issue or only during certain times of the day- say 4pm to 10pm in the afternoon?

    I noticed that clear is throttling bandwidth during peak usage hours; if there are a lot of people in your area, they may be capping you use.

  25. Speed is a constant issue. Talked with their support this morning and they said their is a lot of tower congestion. I have a constant 5 lights on the modem all the time. They extended my 7 day trial period and escalated the ticket I opened last Saturday. Even Clear doesn't quiet understand how come I not getting the speed stand by for more ---

  26. I have had Clear since this past August, 09, before it was released in my area of Alpharetta. I discovered that the usb connection had sufficient signal strength but the home unit did not and therefore was not officially available here. I got it anyway using a different address and have been very well pleased with it. I just got the home unit today as it has just become available, officially, and will put it up tonight. I have had NO problems since August. The signal was sensitive to were I was in the house, but it wasn't even offered here so I expected that. The signal has long ago become consistent and strong and when I run speed tests I get better than advertised 9 out of 10 times. I love it. I am just off of Windward.

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  28. just an FYI; the antenna is actually the flat side of the modem OPPOSITE of the motorola/clear/clearwire logo

  29. As a clear dealer since the beginning I have learned quite a bit. To anyone who is considering clear service: STAY AWAY! The speeds and latency are a joke, customer service is rude, technical support is non-existent, and they love to steal money from your credit card. Promised credits/refunds are never issued. The company encourages dealers to lie to customers in order to close the sale. If you can get DSL or cable, DO IT. If you need a mobile "aircard", stick with 3G. The sprint 3G service offered on the clear dual-mode USB modem is actually FASTER and has lower latency than wimax 95% of the time. I could go on for hours about the problems with clear, but I hope this warning is enough. If any of you don't believe me, signup and see for yourself. It's a great way to burn money. Friends of mine who are engineers for clearwire tell me that the service is horrible and they would NEVER recommend it to anyone... what does that tell you?

  30. To who it may be important/intersting - there is the way to see ALL antennas and towers in USA, please go to antennasearch.com and have fun!!!

  31. In Boise, have to go to the 4th floor to get a signal. If I go to the middle of the building I get nothing. I have 13 more days left to decide. My co-worker has AT&T iPhone right next to me and he gets 3g no problem, but the Clear plan is only $40 bucks versus the $60...

  32. I switched to Clear from Verizon. From $140 to $80 a month. Now I can use the internet away from my house in my car with the clear spot. My 8 year old son streams cartoons with Netflix while I'm driving. Amazing! My wife was even impressed. I bought mine from realpcs. Find them on the web at realpcs.com or call 1-866-666-9200. Ask them for their best deal!

  33. koi mjhe plz bata de me motorola wimax cpei 300 ki devaic use kar rha hoon oska router ka password kia he mene ye password try kar hein ye sab password use ka chuka hoon tab bhi nahi open hora q

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