Clearwire Tries for Coolness With Pay-As-You-Go 4G
If you can put up with Clearwire's obnoxious marketing, the new "Rover" pay-as-you-go 4G service actually seems like a good idea.
Clearwire pitches Rover as prepaid 4G broadband service "for tech-savvy Gen Y customers," designed for "digitally addicted youth who refuse to settle for long-term contracts, overpriced internet service, or speeds slower than what they've become accustomed to at home."
I'm a "Gen Y" customer and I find the attempt at hip marketing lingo somewhat lame. Here are the facts: Rover provides unlimited 4G data coverage without a contract in 49 U.S. markets (here's the coverage map). It costs $5 per day, $20 per week or $50 month. To use the service, you'll need either a "Rover Puck" wireless hotspot, which costs $150, or a "Rover Stick" USB dongle, priced at $100.
Clearwire 4G has average download speeds of 3Mbps to 6Mbps, and peaks of 10Mbps, which the company says is four times faster than conventional 3G.
Contract Free 4G Service
Because Clearwire 4G is not ubiquitous, pay-as-you-go makes sense for travelers or people don't know where they'll be living a year from now. And the single day coverage is tempting if you like to occasionally work in a park or somewhere else that lacks Wi-Fi. Sprint, by comparison, doesn't make it easy to buy 4G coverage without a contract. All its modems require a two-year contract when purchased online, and the service itself is more expensive, priced at $10 per day and $60 per month (although Sprint devices can also revert back to 3G coverage, which Clearwire cannot).
I just wish Clearwire wasn't trying so hard to be cool. A Rover marketing campaign will spotlight J.T. Holmes, a base jumper who will apparently demonstrate how 3G fits into his extreme lifestyle. Clearwire also plans to dole out Rover activity badges to customers in a sorry attempt to emulate Foursquare. Then there's the Rover website, rife with innuendo and cringe-inducing puns. "Puck Yeah," proclaims one page. I'm thinking "Puck This."