Good news about the price of your Internet connection. The marketplace is about to get busted up by a third competitor!
Much of America has suffered under the shared duopoly of the local phone companies offering DSL and the cable giants offering cable modem service. But those who live in distant suburbs or rural areas may only have access to one or even none of those choices.
This is the year that things are about to change.
Clear (aka WiMAX) — a new technology that sends out a blanket high-speed Internet signal to cover an entire metro area — is set to roll out in a number of new American cities. Baltimore had been the first city to have it on a trial basis. Atlanta, Las Vegas and Portland are the latest cities to get coverage.
Coming later in 2009, Clear will be extended to Chicago, Charlotte, Dallas, Philadelphia and Seattle, among other cities. That accounts for about one-third of the nation’s population.
By 2010, Boston, Houston, New York, San Francisco and Washington D.C. will also be rolled out.
With Clear, you can have either floating or fixed wireless Internet. The former allows you to access the Internet when traveling at speeds of about 70 miles per hour — hopefully as a passenger rather than as a driver!
Clark has a first-generation version of Clear (then called “Clearwire”) at his beach home. He pays about $24/month and has been impressed by its reliability over the course of 3 years. But keep in mind that prices will likely fluctuate as Clear rolls out to more markets. The entry of a third player is always a game-changer in a capitalist system.
One word of caution: Be wary of your current Internet service provider trying to lock you into a long-term contract ahead of Clear’s arrival in your market. With everything that’s coming down the pike in 2009 and beyond, you definitely don’t want to be locked in!
Editor’s note: Clear is facing a class action lawsuit filed March 2011 in the state of Washington that alleges the ISP is throttling the connection speeds of customers in a seemingly arbitrary manner.