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Clear – Super Fast Mobile Internet, Unless You’re Mircowaving

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… or it rains, or it’s windy?

clear-internetHow in the world could I ignore commercials with bubbles floating the skies of downtown, boasting Super Fast Mobile Internet anywhere? The image of those floating bubbles around buildings gives one the impression that coverage is strong, stable, and available everywhere you go.

Wrong.

Do you remember the days of rabbit ears on television sets, and on Friday night during Dallas, tuning the antennas for mom and dad? Maybe you had to grab the roll of foil and wrap those giant wads around the tips of the antennas until your mom just told you to stay standing there because it seems to be working if you hold your hand up and to the right? I imagine if you wore braces it was even more ‘Clear,’ right?

Well, welcome to Clear…

…where we’re going to throw you back 20 years into the past to aim your wireless modem out the window, turn it a skoatch and wait to see if you get more bars, and maybe, if you stand just like you are, you can check your email really quickly, before someone turns on the microwave and completely knocks you offline.

You might be thinking

You may be thinking I’m exaggerating, but I’m not, this is Clear- the Super Fast way to find yourself without internet just about any time of day, but God forbid it happens after 10 PM EST because support is closed.

I purchased Clear the month it launched in Austin, and I can tell you, on the night of installation, we had solid reception of four bars out of five, and that was the last time.  To date (four months later), the most bars we’ve ever been able to get is around three if I stand just right and it’s not raining or windy.

You see, that’s the Clear way of doing internet

Anyone that knows me knows that if I don’t like something, or someone, I have better things to do with my time. But with Clear, it’s different- it’s just that frustrating.

I’ve contacted Clear’s support, and I have spent no less than three hours on the phone with support and advanced support only to be told they would research and call me back.  Maybe they couldn’t get through on our Clear phone because it’s the equivalent to a cell phone with no bars- we’ve never used it because no one can ‘hear you now.’ The modem sits within 2 miles of two towers in opposite directions from our home, but our modem just cannot find those awesome bubbles from the commercials. And speaking of phones, and modems (voip style) there is no battery in the modem- thunderstorm and no electricity? Again, no phone OR internet.

(Sorry, my neighbor just ran their microwave, I didn’t mean to drop on you… I’m totally serious.)

We’re all desperate for alternatives to AT&T and RoadRunner, but I’m here to tell you, Clear isn’t it, and neither is Sprint 4G, because that’s just the Clear network as well.

I wanted to be able to tell all of you to switch, but I cannot, but maybe in the next two years I can say differently, because that’s how long they have to blow all those bubbles you see in the ads… that’s the length of our contract with them.

Clear product rating:

As product reviews go, Clear is Clearly crap. Buyer beware. Trust me, I’m being polite. 🙂

Clear Commercial – look at all those bubbles:

Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network for tech and entrepreneurs, proudly celebrating 10 years in publishing, recently ranked as the #5 startup in Austin. Before founding AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation and also acquired several other firms. His resume prior includes roles at Apple and Kroger Foods, specializing in marketing, communications, and technology integration. He is a recipient of the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), has built partnerships and bridges between tech recruiters and the best tech talent in the industry, and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular monthly networking events. Benn does not venture into the spotlight often, rather believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits, develops, and gives all credit to those he's empowered.

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26 Comments

26 Comments

  1. Matt

    March 28, 2010 at 1:07 am

    Per the commercial:

    “CLEAR…brought to you by Lawrence Welk.”

  2. Kyle Simpson

    March 28, 2010 at 10:24 am

    I completely agree on the quality of the home internet service… but I completely disagree on the quality of the mobile internet service.

    I’m also in Austin, and I signed up for the home+mobile the week it launched. Within 3 hrs of trying to set up my home service, I called to cancel it. It was that bad. Exactly as you described. Turns out my modem got it’s best signal when tilted at a 20 degree angle while propped up on a lemon while sitting on my kitchen counter. Everywhere else, it sucked. “Clear”ly, this was not a tenable situation.

    And worse yet, they actually told me that 3.0mbps was the BEST that I could possibly expect from the home service. I told them that for the same price, I’d just keep my Uverse service with my nearly always guaranteed 11mbps speeds. They had no argument to that.

    But, the mobile, that’s a different story. I’ve found it to be awesome. I’ve taken it around town (mostly south and downtown) and never once have I had any less than 3mbps speeds. In fact, a number of times I’ve had anywhere from 6-10mbps speeds. I find that to be amazing considering the crap that 3G mobile service always was. I could not live without this 4G mobile service now, it’s so good.

    But I find it beyond insanity that the home service (with that huge freakin modem) was 1/100 the quality of the mobile service with that small dainty USB modem. It still boggles my mind.

    ——-
    Oh, and while I’m at it, one more rant against Clear. Please hear me on this one. CLEAR STORES YOUR ACCOUNT PASSWORDS IN THEIR SYSTEM IN PLAIN-TEXT. That’s right, no encryption or security at all. I connected to the Chat support to complain because I couldn’t login to their site one evening, and the representative spit out my password in plain-text. I quite literally almost fell out of my chair. I couldn’t believe they would be so irresponsible as to design a system that way.

    Turns out the reason I couldn’t login was because, when I had canceled my home service (but kept my mobile acct), some representative, in all their brilliant wisdom, decided that instead of just changing my existing account, they had to CANCEL my old account and set up a new one. No, they didn’t tell me this is what they were doing. Wouldn’t be so bad except that in creating a new account, they had to pick a new USERNAME for my acct, and so they just appended some random string of characters onto my previous username. Wow, that makes complete sense, right??

    And to top it all off, now that I have this completely retarded new username on my “new” account, they cannot change my username back, because the old username is still attached to the old cancelled account. Oh, and there’s no way to un-cancel that account by the way… yeah, already tried that line of “logic”.

    So, I will never be logging back into Clear’s site, because I have no idea what my username is, nor will I ever. But the good news is, any representative at Clear can log in as me whenever they want, since they all know my password. Awesome, huh?

    • Benn Rosales

      March 28, 2010 at 11:07 am

      I walked over to a public kiosk in the middle of Friday night, OUTDOORS no less – I caught a salesman offf guard by asking him to plug in a modem because hey were showing off those little wireless cards for your laptop, so he did – he got two bars- open air, evening, no obstruction standing OUTSIDE! 2 bars.

  3. Benn Rosales

    March 28, 2010 at 11:08 am

    bubbles….

  4. Lori

    March 28, 2010 at 11:16 am

    I’ve heard really good things about Clear mobile…and terrible things like this about Clear home. Even the Clear representative I spoke with told me Clear home was not a good fit for uploading photos after a wedding or event (compared with the “fancy” Internet connection we have through the cable company). I appreciated his honestly.

    They have way too many sales people, though, and a lot of them are kinda pushy. It’s giving the company a creepy vibe. [[shudder]]

    • Benn Rosales

      March 28, 2010 at 11:32 am

      Lori, both the gent who I purchased Clear from and the support team were told I was reviewing Clear “from the start”- neither were forthcoming at all. I’ve been treated like family by Clear service and support, but forgotten in the resolution like an evil step brother.

      I’ve been offered no resolution by Clear for the problems experienced. Clear has my number, they’re welcome to be forthcoming with me, I am fair, but right now, the bubbles makes whether home or on the go moot as the commercial is blatantly misleading.

  5. Benn Rosales

    March 28, 2010 at 11:36 am

    btw, I’ve never seen a company spend so much money on advertising, and wonder about the ‘positive’ reviews, and to be quite honest, if anyone tells them they heard about Clear here, I get a cash gift card, so mention my name, maybe I’ll get to recoop a nickel or two of this two year contract.

    I had heard stories of Seattle peeps building clear plastic boxes and placing their modems on their roof tops to get the absolutely perfect signal (cuz they’re speed junkies) but now I know why- it’s the only way their modem could find the bubbles.

  6. Larry Schuler

    March 28, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    As with MOST service contracts: Stop using the service, give the company WRITTEN notice, and then STOP PAYING THE BILL at the appropriate time.

    • Benn Rosales

      March 28, 2010 at 12:43 pm

      I’m quite certain that I’ll not be bound to the two year agreement, I understand the nuance of contract law, however, this began as a review, and is ending with the result of the review – how they respond is up to them, it’s never to late to correct bad impressions until it’s to late.

  7. Ralph Bell

    March 28, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    The problem with bubbles….there is two much air between them.

  8. velda

    March 29, 2010 at 11:31 am

    I’ve been with Clearwire since there were only 4 cities in the entire country that had it, long before it became Clear. I have the USB modem too for my laptop and it is fabulous. I have the bundle of voip phone and regular modem for the office and the USB for the laptop. I have had trouble with the office modem since I moved to this office 2 years ago and continued to have problems while they were switching over to the new Clear service; however, now that they have fixed many of the bugs, I’m getting much better service. One of the dilemmas that I face in this particular place is all the metal in the building and the angle of my office to the nearest tower. I must place the modem in a particular place by the back door but I’m getting 4 or 5 bars pretty regular now and at the very least 3 bars. When I typically have trouble is when vans and SUVs park right outside my back door. We believe that the signal bounces. I have on occasion had trouble in severe weather but how often does that happen here? BTW, I’m in Abilene TX. The only other place that I have ever had trouble with the regular modem is at my parent’s home. I have to put the modem in the window. Must be a lot of copper wiring causing the problem, but I have trouble with my cell phone too in their house. All in all, I’d say my satisfaction with Clear is an 8 out of a possible 10 with 10 being a perfect rating.

    • Benn Rosales

      March 29, 2010 at 11:46 am

      Velda, that is an awesome assessment of life with Clear, thanks for your honesty. I think it goes to show you that with a little effort, creativity, and maybe even some duct tape, you can have what the commercial describes.

      Clear is not an advancement in internet, nor is it even equal to what you’ve experienced with internet, it’s dial-up, but worse because it promises to be more than it is.

      • velda

        March 29, 2010 at 1:35 pm

        LOL! That is so funny because before they worked a lot of the bugs out with the new service and before they actually switched off the old service, we did use duct tape to tape the modem up higher on the wall at the top of my back door, which, BTW, is a metal door. 😀

  9. Denise

    March 29, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    I love my Service I have Home-Mobile-Phone, I was able to keep my old number and everything works Great. The mobile sometimes doesn’t work well some places cause its wireless!! just like my GREAT AT&T I Phone that never works and drops half of my calls. Do you remember Verizon when it first came out?? it was a joke to now look at them. There is nobody that even comes close to the speeds that i get with this mobile device. 🙂

  10. Roscoe Property Management

    April 2, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    I live in Austin and have had Clear since early January. I ordered mobile first, and it worked GREAT. The only thing wrong was the pings, but I could live with that. I chugged along for about a month and a half and thought to myself “hey! I’m going to get Clear home, and bundle them together for dirt cheap!”

    Clear home service sucks. I never see anything above 3Mbs down, I average 1-1.5Mbs down. On the other hand, my Clear mobile is amazing. It’s about as fast, or maybe even faster as a Road Runner.

    All in all, I am happy. I pay $50 and change for decent internet, and I have a sluggish home network for simple file sharing and so forth..

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Social Media

MeWe – the social network for your inner Ron Swanson

MeWe, a new social media site, seems to offer everything Facebook does and more, but with privacy as a foundation of its business model. Said MeWe user Melissa F., “It’s about time someone figured out that privacy and social media can go hand in hand.”

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Let’s face it: Facebook is kind of creepy. Between facial recognition technology, demanding your real name, and mining your accounts for data, social media is becoming increasingly invasive. Users have looked for alternatives to mainstream social media that genuinely value privacy, but the alternatives to Facebook have been lackluster.

MeWe is poised to change all of that, if it can muster up a network strong enough to compete with Facebook. On paper, the new social media site seems to offer everything Facebook does and more, but with privacy as a foundation of its business model. Said MeWe user Melissa F., “It’s about time someone figured out that privacy and social media can go hand in hand.”

MeWe prioritizes privacy in every aspect of the site, and in fact, users are protected by a “Privacy Bill of Rights.” MeWe does not track, mine, or share your data, and does not use facial recognition software or cookies. (In fact, you can take a survey on MeWe to estimate how many cookies are currently tracking you – apparently I have 18 cookies spying on me!)

ron swanson

You don’t have to share that “as of [DATE] my content belongs to me” status anymore.

Everything you post on MeWe belongs to you – the site does not try to claim ownership over your content – and you can download your profile in its entirety at any time. MeWe doesn’t even pester you with advertising. Instead of making money by selling your data (hence the hashtag #Not4Sale) or advertising, the site plans to profit by offering additional paid services, like extra data and bonus apps.

So what does MeWe do? Everything Facebook does, and more. You can share photos and videos, send messages or live chat. You can also attach voice messages to any of your posts, photos, or videos, and you can create Snapchat-like disappearing content.

You can also sync your profile to stash content in your personal storage cloud. Everything you post is protected, and you can fine-tune the permission controls so that you can decide exactly who gets to see your content and who doesn’t – “no creepy stalkers or strangers.”

MeWe is available for Android, iOS, desktops, and tablets.

This story was originally published in January 2016, but the social network suddenly appears to be gaining traction.

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Social Media

How to spot if your SEO, PPC, social media marketing service provider is a con-artist

(BUSINESS) When hiring a professional, did you know there are actual questions you can ask to spot a con-artist? Too often, we trust our guts and go with the gregarious person, but too much is on the line to keep doing that with your business.

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In this day and age the cult of positive thinking and “the law of attraction” are still very much alive and well in the business services industry. Here are a few simple questions that you can ask prospective business service providers to help you gauge if they are the real deal or just caught up in the fad of “say yes to everything,” or “outsource everything” being populated online by countless “thought leaders” and cult gurus.

Lots of people will ask, “What’s the harm of people trying to make something of themselves?”

Well, I’m here to tell you there is a huge harm in taking risks with a client’s money and manipulating people into trusting their “expertise” when they have none.

Business owners: Due diligence is more important than ever these days.

There are whole communities of people helping to prop each-other up as experts in fields they know nothing about while outsourcing their tasks with little or no oversight into the actual work being done on your behalf.

It is nearly impossible for you to tell if this is even going on. Don’t worry. I am here to help you avoid a con-artist.

How? By showing you how to weed out the bad actors by asking really simple questions.

This set of questions is perfect for people who need to distinguish if the expert they are talking is really just an expert in bullshit with a likeable personality.

Why do these questions work? Because people who are into this kind of stuff are rarely hesitant to talk about it when you ask them direct questions. They believe that what they are doing is a good thing and so they are more open to sharing this information with you because they think by you by asking that you are also into similar things.

It is a fun little trick I picked up while learning to do consumer polling and political surveying.

The Questions:

  • Who influences you professionally?
  • Do you follow any “thought leaders” “gurus” or coaches? If so, who?
  • What “school” of thought do you ascribe to in your profession, and where do you learn what you know?
  • Are there any industry standards you do not agree with?
  • How do you apply the services you offer to your own company?
  • Can you please tell me the background of your support staff and can I see their CV’s?
  • Do you outsource or white label any of the work your company does?
  • May we audit your process before buying your services?
  • May we discuss your proposed strategies with others in your industry to ensure quality?
  • Would you be open to speaking with an independent consultant that is knowledgeable about your industry about your proposals?
  • Can you show me examples of your past successful jobs?
  • Do you have any industry accepted certifications and how many hours of study do you do in a year to keep your knowledge up-to-date and current?
  • How many clients have you had in the past?
  • How many clients do you have currently?
  • How many clients are you able to handle at one time?
  • How many other clients do you have that are in the same industry as my company?
  • How long is your onboarding process before we start getting down to actually making changes to help solve the issues my company is facing?
  • Can you explain to me the steps you will take to identify my company’s needs?
  • Have you ever taken a course in NLP or any other similar course of study?
  • Have you ever been a part of a Multi-Level Marketing company?
  • Fun. Right? Well, we aren’t done.

    It is not just enough to ask these questions… you have to pay attention to the answers, as well as the WAY they are answering questions.

    And you also have to RESEARCH the company after you get your answers to make sure they ring true.

    You cannot keep accepting people at face value, not when the risk is to your business, employees, and clients. There is little to no risk for a person who is being dishonest about their capabilities and skill sets. They will walk away with your money, ready to go find another target for a chance meeting that seems amazingly perfect.

    Do not leave your business decisions to chance encounters at networking events. Research before saying yes.

    No matter how likeable or appealing the person you are speaking with is.

    How do you research? Easy. THE INTERNET. Look at the website of the company you are considering working with.

    • Does it look professional? (do not use your website as a standard for professional unless you have had it done by a professional)
    • Can you see a list of their past clients?
    • Do they effectively tell their story as a company or are they just selling?
    • What do their social media profiles look like? Do they have many followers? Are they updated regularly?
    • Do they have any positive reviews on social sites? (Yelp, Facebook, Linkedin, etc)

    You can also do some simple things like running SEO Website Checkers on their websites. There are tons of these online for free and they will give you a pretty good indicator of if they are using best practices on their websites – you can even do this research on their clients’ websites.

    Also, if you know anything about SpyFu, you can run their website through that to see how they are doing their own online marketing (the same can be said for their clients if they are selling this service).

    Facebook also has a cool section that shows you ads that a Page is running. You can find this info connected to their business Page as well as the Pages they manage for their clients as well. None of these things automatically disqualify a potential service provider, but their answers the question of “why” things are the way there are might be very illuminating to you as a business owner.

    This may seem like a lot of work, and it can be if you do not do these things regularly and have them down to a system, but the cost of not doing these things is way too high. A con-artist is born every day, thanks to the internet.

    You have a right as a business owner considering services from a vendor to ask these questions.

    They also have the responsibility as a service provider to answer these questions in a professional manner. Sometimes the way in which they answer the questions is far more important than the actual answer.

    If all of this seems too overwhelming for you to handle, that is okay.

    • You can ask one of your staff in your company to take on this role and responsibility.
    • You can hire someone to come in and help you with these decisions (and you can ask them all the same questions as above before taking their services).
    • You can reach out to other business owners in your network to see if they have recommendations for someone who could help you with things.
    • Heck, you can even call up companies that look like they are doing as well as you want to be doing online and ask them who they are using for their services. Try successful companies in other industries as your competitor won’t likely be interested in sharing their secrets with you…

    What is important is that you are asking questions, researching, and ultimately making sure that you are doing as much as possible to ensure making the best decision for your company.

    Final thoughts:

    “But, Jay, what’s wrong with taking a risk on an up-and-comer?”

    The answer to that is NOTHING. There is nothing wrong with taking a chance on someone. Someone being green doesn’t make them a con-artist.

    The issue I am raising is in the honest portrayal of businesses and their capabilities. It is about honesty.

    I am a huge fan of working with people who are new and passionate about an industry. But I only work with people who are honest with me about who they are, what they can do, and how their processes work.

    I have worked with tons of people who are still learning on the job. It can be quite educational for a business owner as well.

    Just make sure they are being honest about everything up front. You are no obligated to give anyone a chance when it comes to your businesses success, and it’s not right that someone might manipulate you into doing so.

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Social Media

Facebook struggles to regulate itself (but better – regulators are salivating for their chance)

(MEDIA SPOTLIGHT) Facebook is being called to the carpet by another nation’s regulators, and if they can’t put users first, the weight of international regulations could destroy all that they’ve built.

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Regulations are likely headed Facebook’s way unless the company embraces change. Facebook erroneously (and we believe purposely) calls themselves as a tech company rather than a media company to skirt federal and international regulations. After an inquiry with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Facebook countered that people instead of regulators should have the power to decide what’s seen on their news feed.

Is this true?

The Facebook news feed is constructed through the company’s algorithms, catering to ad content and suggested posts. In its response to the ACCC, Facebook stated that 98% of its revenue comes from selling ads per the Audience Network publishers and advertisers.

Many of us can agree our feeds clog up quite easily — sometimes I have to fish to see posts from the people I care about. “Deciding what I want to see” is a nebulous phrase which at times has me choking on Bored Panda content because I enjoyed ONE video. ONE.

Although the ACCC’s findings did not conclude any inappropriate market use by Facebook, the report suggested policy changes. Facebook has agreed to partner with regulators to create suitable policies to control the flow of unwarranted news and advertising.

The company is still resisting any government regulation.

Here’s the space between a rock and a hard place. As long as Facebook is a prominent source of news and content, governments will swoop in to try to tame the social media beast, and their idea of regulation may lead to a slippery slope in regards to free expression.

The pressure is on Facebook and other social media platforms to stop the bleeding themselves. For now. Policy change from within the company is the safest road to harmony between those of us who just want to see memes from friends and the empty rage articles claiming newsworthy content.

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