Are You Being Throttled By Clear?

By  |  Friday, March 11, 2011 at 6:51 am

It certainly is a rocky time for WiMAX provider Clear. The company’s CEO Bill Morrow has suddenly resigned, citing “personal reasons” according to a company press release. But that’s not the only problem: it is now the subject of a lawsuit filed in Washington state last week.

Complaints began surfacing last fall, when customers claimed that Clear wasn’t being forthcoming on its throttling practices. In some cases, connections were being slowed to 256 kbps — and the reason why was different depending on who you talked to. For some, it was said they were exceeding the bandwidth cap of 8GB per month: others got told it was due to “network congestion.”

This schizophrenic explanation of what was going on upset customers, who began to complain on Internet forums. Clear did later admit that it was throttling, although it refused to specify which customers it was doing it to, or how.

At issue is the company’s advertising, which says nothing about bandwidth caps and in some cases guarantees a minimum speed of 1-Mbps or more. It also takes issue with the fact that customers locked into contracts are forced to pay early termination fees if they disagree with Clear’s up-until-now unclear throttling practices.

There’s a few other goodies in the suit (available here from DSLReports), including the plantiff’s accusations of a Ponzi scheme and implementing the throttling in order to take on more customers than Clear’s network could handle due to the company’s financial issues.

But I’m curious, have any of our Technologizer readers had issues with Clear and speed? Overall, how has your experience been with the company? Let us know in the comments.



28 Comments For This Post

  1. Tony Annechino Says:

    Our Clear connection is … sketchy. Sometimes it can be wonderful; other times it feels like 1997 AOL.

    On Clear's coverage map there's an odd gap of coverage over the woods behind our complex that disappears over the homes on the other side. They make all sorts of claims about why our signal goes out — we have to keep the modem near a window — most of which involve needing to buy up to 4G+.

    We also are prepaid customers, so perhaps that also lends to their total lack of desire to appease us.

  2. @andrewmiller Says:

    Am I being throttled by Clear? Not anymore, because I cancelled my account and switched back to DSL. It took 6 hours on the phone with tech support over 4 calls, but they did finally agree to cancel my account without charging me an early termination fee. On the way to that point, Clear reps fed me one crazy BS reason after another. Did you know that "the firefox" can cause your 6mb connection to slow to dialup speeds? I also learned that although I have a 10ftx12ft picture window looking directly at a Clear tower only 2 blocks away, my "signal strength might be an issue." I think I probably caused them to accrue more $ in salary for customer service reps than my monthly bill, which may have tipped the scales in my favor.

    My advice? Get out before they get even more desperate. Also, be very polite no matter how much you may want to throw flames from your soul. It does work eventually.

  3. davezatz Says:

    Eh, I cancelled due to lack of WiMax coverage (exacerbated by an inaccurate map in my region). A coworker did believe he was being throttled and even worse had denied connections at times. Support wasn't helpful and like Andrew the conversations were often bizarre. So like me he canceled. It's less effort than a lawsuit.

  4. Brian Baldridge Says:

    I would classify myself as a light consumer of bandwidth. I have the Clearspot 4g+. I have never detected being throttled. Where 4G is available, I get decent 1-3 Mbps speeds. I have found Clear reps to be friendly and helpful the one time I used them.

  5. The_Heraclitus Says:

    Probably a better idea is to go with HughesNet if you can't get high speed land line.

  6. Rev Says:

    My house happens to be in a zone where Clear’s signal is pretty weak. It’s improved over the last 18 months, but I’d like a little more than 3Mbps so I can ditch Comcast cable altogether.

    Other than that, Clear has been great. Two usb modems for my wife and I (mainly for when we’re on the road) at $50/month is a great deal, especially when compared with services from mobile phone providers.

    The speeds have dropped somewhat since I first signed up: I used to get 10Mbps in many places, now it’s usually slower, I’d guess on average 6Mbps. Still, plenty of speed to VPN into the office network and have my netbook and Android phone connected as well.

    I did hear the throttling stories (on the Clear support boards), but have not experienced it myself, even though some months I am a heavy user (Netflix in the hotel room, sharing my connection over Wifi with others etc.).

  7. neato Says:

    i had a rep 'reprovision' my modem once i noticed speeds drop from 9 to 6Mbps. that month i had used 63GB. frustrating.

  8. Paul Says:

    I have Clear…for internet and VOIP telephone service. The net service slows down and seems to almost STOP sometimes…I called in a couple times. Back in late Feb or early March the phone service went completely out. My daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and we needed to maintain constant contact with her doctor. It was a good thing we have cell phones. I kinda lost it, but it's kind of like blaming a gas station attendant for the high price of gas. They have an 8G cap? We get close, but I don't think we ever got it over 7.3…and still it takes forever sometimes for a YouTUbe video to load….it'll buffer, then play a bit, then stop and buffer some more, then play a bit…what a drag..Thinking of going with Comcast. I guess their "cap" is 250 G (I think I read that somewhere).

  9. Rand Boland Says:

    I have CLEAR, and I wonder why. Went down tonight about Midnight /NW suburb Chicago. Got on the phone with a rep. and went through the same old crap. Could not get a connection. Rep verified no problem with Tower, yeah right. After a hour messy with him, change the modem to different rooms and such, he suggested maybe tomorrow I call and get an upgrade to my service. WTF! no I didn't say that I know too better. But ANYWAY yeah after hour and half later SURPRISE up and running again. Now you tellin me they aren't throttled down or cutting out. oh oh he asked me "so what time is it there?" I tell him 1 am now" he then asks" so like what do you do on the internet so late at night" I thinking "None of your #^#^%$#in business. " But yeah, OH OH NEWSBREAK just Got 4 lights " Holly Cow!!!" I have to admit I don't know much about all this throtting down or Bandwidth Caps. But if any of it is true, Then I am seeing it for myself. So any Chicagoans out there want to give me a suggestions for the best service in the NW suburbs. I am ready to become XClear.

  10. George Says:

    Very similar situation here in LA bro. These mf'ers had the audacity to tell me I was "using the Internet too much"! I said, "I thought that's what I was paying u kats for!? I pay u for 24hr "4G" access to the net, not so I can use it sparingly at certain times of day!". I was told that it was in my contract that Clear was not liable for slow connections or even complete outages. My reply, "Well that might cover ur ass legally but technically, I still have a problem". He hung up on me. I'm still with them but since then I've been looking for a better solution.

  11. BOB Says:

    Clear customer for 5 months and regular download in the 30-50+ GB a month range and have yet to see any kind oif throttling at all. Good speeds in and outside Chicago.

  12. OldeEnglish800 Says:

    I live in the western suburbs of Chicago and have their 4G home service that supposedly offers no speed cap for $35 (discounted from $45 since I use to work for a big box retailer). My signal is full bars and excellent. I signed up for it back in February. I canceled Comcast, the only other option for internet in my area. I was guessing I could get by with Hulu and Netflix streaming and over the air for my TV needs. Clear was great for the first three months. I was probably getting about 2-3mbps during the peak hours with 5mbps+ during off hours. Enough for streaming HD with some stutters. Very adequate. But recently I have been getting less than 1mbps except in the dead of night (which I was only getting about 3mbps now). I can no longer stream at all and speed for my other internet needs in general is poor. And gaming on it is impossible. I'm definitely a heavy user. I'm not sure if it is throttling or my area is oversold. I just signed up for Comcast again and getting installed on Tuesday. For the price and speeds I was getting, Clear was definitely worth it for the first few months but not anymore.

  13. Gene Hodges Says:

    I have Clear, and have since October in New York City. I have tried to use Clear to stream video daily. Since January. At first, I detected no problems, but I worked long hours and was barely home, so I was not a heavy user. I have since changed occupations and do the bulk of my work from home, and have become a heavy user. I thought that it would be a good idea to catch up on all the TV shows that I missed on my previous job. I find it impossible to watch more than one 45 minute episode of a TV show on Netflix due to the constant interruptions – when using a computer, Netflix even tells you directly that your connection's speed has changed, and they are readjusting your video feed to compensate for the slowness. I believe, with two Best Buys retailing Clear within walking distance of me in addition to the two Clear stores and the Microcenter within 15 minutes drive also selling their products, in addition to the ridiculous quotas placed on Clear salespeople (full disclosure, I WAS a Clear sales representative that was stationed at all of these stores in rotation and no exactly how you basically have to complete one sale per hour of your shift, on average, or be terminated) that my area is oversold in addition to my potentially being throttled.

  14. john s. Says:

    Like many said before, at first Clear was decent when I got it a year ago. In the NW suburbs of Chicago I'd get about 4Mbs. Now, after watching one 45 min episode on Netflix my bandwidth is throttled to 1mb or less. At those speeds Netflix becomes a constant state of buffering on my Blu-ray player, youtube videos are choppy on the computer, and I don't even want to try gaming on xbox live.

    I want out. And recommend if you're a heavy user to stay away.

  15. john s. Says:

    Just an update… when I got home from work I was hitting over 5Mbps… then when the magic 7 o'clock hour struck like usual they dropped. Here's the results…

    Also, just got done with a conversation via chat with a Clear tech rep. Here's what he told me:
    Lisandro: I'm sorry that you're seeing a slower connection than you are accustomed to specially on a particular time-frame. I assure you that our top priority is making sure that all of our customers have the best Internet experience possible, at all times. …, to do that, during times of high network congestion we may equalize everyone’s ability to enjoy a high-quality internet experience.

    So he just admitted that they throttle their customers during peak times. Although I disagree with him that I'm able to "enjoy a high-quality internet experience" at 0.41Mbps

  16. Drogian Says:

    A Clear representative confirmed the following for me today:
    * Throttling starts at about 4 gigabytes of bandwidth usage over the last week; connection is throttled to 1.2 mbps
    * At 6 gigabytes of bandwidth usage over the last week, connection is throttled to .9 mbps
    * At 8 gigabytes of bandwidth usage over the last week, connection is throttled to .6 mbps

    The representative also lied to me about 6 times during the call about my account, so he probably isn’t to be trusted, but still…

    Also, turning off your Clear modem for any amount of time will have no effect beyond getting you closer to the end of the 1 week of usage history Clear retains.

  17. Teela Says:

    We are being throttled almost constantly, and we have average internet use. We do use Netflix, but only a few times a month (maybe 5), and we do watch the occasional YouTube video. We rarely torrent except for legal game updates.

    Today I tried to play the online demo of Crysis 2 at the Origin website and I got this message:

    "Your Bandwidth was measured at 0.7 Mb/s, which is not sufficient to stream a high quality experience. Please turn off other Internet enabled applications or devices and try again."

    So Clear's throttling is not only causing me slowness issues, but also causing me to be completely unable to partake in certain activities! I tried to load it three other times, and got varying speeds, but the game still would not let me play at the highest speed I reached, which was 2 Mb/s.

    I am FED UP. They have greatly oversold in my market, throttle users for average use, and they blatantly LIED in their marketing when I signed up. If I had ANY other alternative, I would cancel right now, but living in a hotel, Clear is the only viable option I've found. I WILL be cancelling this crappy service as soon as I have any other option available.

  18. Teela Says:

    I was also told in February that if I signed up for the business plan, I would not be throttled at all – EVER. The woman I spoke to said they knew business users (which I am) need a good connection so they don't lose business. (And I HAVE lost valuable work time waiting for client files to download while being throttled.)

    I paid to upgrade, bumping my monthly charge from around $66 to $74. I was still throttled the whole time, so I recently called them and they said it was NOT true that business customers wouldn't be throttled, that the ONLY difference between regular and pro was a static IP address, and at first they didn't even want to refund the 7 months I'd been paying for the non-existent "upgrade" or downgrade my account!

    This company is the biggest bunch of outright LIARS I have ever come across. I wouldn't believe a word they say now. It's been constant lies. First, their marketing material told me:

    “Usage is unlimited—believe it. You can upload, download, and surf as much as you want for one low price with any of the CLEAR Internet plans. We don’t slow down your connection—the way some Internet providers do—if we think you are using too much bandwidth,” the complaint quotes from Clearwire’s website. (That text appears to have been removed at the time of publication).”

    Then they told me they DO throttle, but not business customers.

    Then they told me they throttle EVERYONE.

    I want out of this contract ASAP. SO SICK OF THIS.

  19. tilos Says:

  20. MrA Says:

    It's all there in the fine print. It says right there in black and white they throttle, but do not say when it starts. I;m not a customer, and after reading here, I never will be!

    Unlimited Use Plans. If you subscribe to a service plan that does not impose limits on the amount of data you may download or upload during a month (or other applicable service period), you should be aware that such “unlimited” plans are nevertheless subject to the provisions of this AUP. What this means is that all of the provisions described in this AUP, including those that describe how Clearwire may perform reasonable network management such as reducing the data rate of bandwidth intensive users during periods of congestion, will apply to your use of the Service. The term “unlimited” means that we will not place a limit on how much data you upload or download during a month or other particular period. However, the term “unlimited” does not mean that we will not take steps to reduce your data rate during periods of congestion or take other actions described in this AUP when your usage is negatively impacting the Internet experience of other subscribers to our Service

  21. MrA Says:

    Of course the sales guy will tell you whatever you want to hear. All that matters is that contract, that you need a magnifying glass to read!

  22. willinlosangeles Says:

    yeah my connection is like 15mb/2/up. but rarely. I always get slowed down to.5mb and 1mb up its so blatant

  23. willinlosangeles Says:

    I can't even read the news sometime its so frustrating… good thing im on mo/mo

  24. Matt Says:

    Yes they are doing it to me too. 1Mbps download and 1 upload

  25. Bobby Says:

    I have Netflix and participate in the occasional online gaming. Especially with my brother playing Call of Duty. I get throttled more often now. Current running at 578.4 kbps download, 649.0 kbps upload. The highest I ever seen it is at 4.2 mbps but mostly runs at 3.6 mbps. I'm not too far from the tower either so go figure, just down the street.

  26. John doe Says:

    look at this !!! and ask if any one is having provlems

  27. Joshua Says:

    i use an average of 50gb a month on my Clear usb 4G+ and haven't noticed slowed speeds! but I also have their home internet which reminds me of dial-up in many ways!

  28. Cade Says:

    I am not sure if i am being throttled but constantly i have slow, slow speeds and i am told it is a problem with the tower or that they dont know why. I am actually on hold waiting for customer service at this very minute because yesterday i was at 900 kbps and now its 50. i am extremely pissed off and upset with clear and would advise anyone that has or is thinking about using it to stop. I also believe that the people on here that enjoy clear are probably people from the company advertising how “good” the service is because EVERYONE i know has problems with it and they are scam artists.