The $22.50 price tag for WiMAX service proved too good for me to pass up. Today I am up and running with a Clearwire one-month contract. My home in the suburbs of Philadelphia is technically out range of the WiMAX network, but the coffee shop down the street isn’t. I tested the service there, where it was stellar, and then, lo and behold, discovered that I do get a low signal even in my house. I foresee many, many more tests in the near future, from the park, the mall, and probably the local Chuck E. Cheese.
I also spoke to a member of the Clearwire support team today. (I needed to update the old Clear Connection Manager software on my netbook) He was out of Las Vegas and told me I was only his third call from the Philadelphia area. That’s not surprising since Philly has only been in soft launch mode for 13 days. He also told me that what he’s seen of uptake in Vegas has been good, and that people of all types are subscribing. In other words, it’s not just businessmen on the go who are signing up. One interesting trend he noted is that there seem to be plenty of folks paying for the mobile service and using their USB modems primarily at home. Sounds silly, until you think about scenarios where people live alone (i.e. no one else needs the home connection) and want the freedom to use mobile broadband, even if it’s only occasionally. In that case, why not?
There is a remarkable sense of freedom in having mobile broadband that I can only equate to the time we first got Wi-Fi running in our house many, many moons ago. Since I skipped over 3G, I’ve been relying on Wi-Fi hotspots to keep me connected when I’m not at home. That’s not a bad thing since free, public Wi-Fi access has grown remarkably in the last few years. But it doesn’t compare to getting access everywhere. I could rapidly get used to this.