"Clearwire (NasdaqGS: CLWR - News) is being sued by customers in several states, who are alleging that the company is misrepresenting the quality of its wireless broadband network and then charging early-termination fees even if a customer is unable to achieve a reliable service, reports Cellular-News. The plaintiffs from Washington, Hawaii, Minnesota and North Carolina are seeking class action status on behalf of all Clearwire subscribers. A Clearwire spokeswoman told mocoNews that based on company policy, Clearwire does not comment on pending legal matters."
There were many reviews of Baltimore's Xohm. Even the reviews that were largely positive cited inconsistent uploads or downloads. Its not that one can't get acceptable service in the right location, but a slight change in orientation can make a big difference. Microwave BBW will produce the data equivalent of the "can you hear me know" behavior.
3G operators face the same issue, but neither Verizon nor AT&T advertise their service as a wireline replacment. The faster one pushes the bits, as in 4G, the more pronounced the propagation issues become.
I was in Baltimore at the end of the summer in an area with a lot of foliage...the XOHM product was amazing! Also, I was in a densely wooded area in Portland a couple of weeks ago with a lot of evergreens...no problem there. But, as you stated in your memo, we will have to see how it works when millions of users are on the system and in different environments. Right now, from what I have experienced, I have absolutely no problem with it.
I think Atlanta is the next city and there is a lot of foliage there. It will also be interesting when it comes to Las Vegas.
The product is real and it works. As a part of this industry, I can't help but support it and I am going to want to get it into my customer's hands.
Everyone understands the appeal of a single data pipe for everywhere, but CLWR has yet to prove they can deliver it with sufficent quality and price in a nationwide network to compete. The challenge for microwave is the huge variation in the physical environment that affects propagation. Every market is different so success in a tree-less city like Las Vegas doesn't mean success along the eastern seaboard. It also depends if one is measuring during the summer or winter because the moisture content in dense foliage is a major cause for singal loss.
All these propagation challenges have been known to cellular operators for years but CLWR is trying to pump 500 times the bandwidth to its devices than celullar operators require for voice services. And note no cellular operator promotes its cellular services as a PSTN replacement. And for good reason.
I think Clearwire has done a good job in their larger markets like Seattle, Honolulu, Charlotte and Stockton. They achieved a good representation of the market and built a nice foundation for the much higher speed WiMax technology. When they reintroduce their new 4G technology, perform their usual sensational marketing campaigns and demonstrate the quality of the product to the masses, I think you might be very surprised how many people leave the beaurocracies of the monopolies of the cable and dsl carriers to go with the new Clear products and services.
Just the fact that cable and dsl force you to use their service in one place while you can use Clear throughout the cities and eventually in deployed cities without roaming makes Clearwire one step ahead of everyone else.
Everyone in the industry has had customer service issues at one time or another. Clearwire's success will be in the deployment and adoption of the technology. If the technology works as well I have seen in Baltimore and Portland, OR, no lawsuit in the world will stop the momentum. Even the haters and trolls will come to their senses and jump on the bandwagon. Just watch and see!
CLWR is committing two errors in its relationship with customers. The business practice of charging termination fees when the service is poor is deplorable, but at least can be corrected with a better customer satisfaction policy.
The underlying issue though is overall quality-of-service and that issue isn't going away. Microwave based BBW with a point-to-multipoint network architecure will not deliver the consistency of service across the service area enjoyed by wired ISP customers. WiMAX updates and technology refreshes won't fix this. And to be fair, LTE wouldn't fix this either. The underlying issues stem from the 2+GHz spectrum, the network architecture, and intended performance - not the choice of 4G technology.
CLWR will just have to get used to the reality that its mobile WiMAX based serive is not and will not be equivalent to wired service for a large geographically disperse service.