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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

Instagram makes IGTV videos more accessible with automatic closed captions

(SOCIAL MEDIA) This new feature for Instagram opens avenues for viewers who don’t or can’t use audio on IGTV videos, creating more accessibility for all.

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Instagram live being recorded will now feature auto captions.

In an effort to expand accessibility efforts, IGTV videos on Instagram will now include an auto captions option. While its parent company, Facebook, has included auto captions on uploaded videos since 2017, this new-for-Instagram feature is expected to widen audience viewership and increase potential viewing by those who prefer watching sans-audio.

In a statement by Facebook, the company states: “While there is no shortage of information, not everyone can access it. It needs to be available to the hundreds of millions of people in the world who are deaf or hard of hearing. According to the World Health Organization, over 5% of the world’s population – or 466 million people – have disabling hearing loss, and that is projected to increase to over 900 million by 2050.”

Current events have made the need for auto captions even more critical for inclusion. “The rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic caused a spike in both the supply and demand of public health information. Several local and state governments, that were accustomed to holding live press conferences but didn’t have the resources, staff or technology to record, stream, and caption their live events, turned to Facebook Live. Several governments also discovered that video captioning was not just a nice-to-have, but imperative, especially in the absence of available sign language interpreters,” states the company.

Currently, Facebook provides auto captions for videos in 16 languages and has announced that Instagram’s IGTV will have access to the same features. The caption accuracy is determined by the video’s audio quality, although AI technology is constantly improving in both precision and speed.

Additionally, branded content ads are likely to see an increase in consumer interaction. Recently published data by Facebook shows ads visually designed for watching with the sound off have 48% more relevance to viewers and a 42% higher purchase intent. As auto captions normalize across social media, users can expect ad content to utilize this feature to the fullest.

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New tool organizes your Reddit feed (and makes it actually usable)

(Social Media) Reddit’s UI hasn’t always been super intuitive. ‘Deck for Reddit’ organizes your feed into themed columns, making it way more user-friendly.

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Deck for Reddit on display on laptop on desk.

Love it or hate it, the mass collection of forums on Reddit have some form of content for everyone. The simple UX design places content straight down the middle of the screen and the infinite scrolling feature allows you to view a limitless amount of content from cute puppy images to cringe-worthy videos. However, its simplicity isn’t very practical, and is something that I think should be voted down.

Yes, Reddit has come a long way from its previous text-heavy form, but there is still a lot to improve on. Charles Yang, a frustrated Reddit user, has created a web app that could change all that: Deck for Reddit, a desktop optimized, alternative way to browse your favorite forums.

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Currently, the web app is in open beta. With a very similar experience to Tweetdeck, this Reddit tool seems to hold some promise.

On the far left side of the website, there is a list of icons with all the subreddits you’ve subscribed to. Clicking on an icon will take you directly to that subreddit column. This is very convenient for users with a bunch of subscriptions. Additionally, by making several subreddits visible on the screen all at once, Yang succeeds in his goal of taking advantage of the vast empty white space that Reddit failed to use.

From this display, you can click on a post, and it instantly expands to show all the comments. Hit the back button, and the post collapses. Now, you are back to seeing all the posts related to that subreddit. And at the top of each subreddit, you can easily sort the content by what’s new, popular, and trendy. Engagement has never felt easier.

Along with everything else, this extension also adds another great feature in setting customizations. The theme can be switched from light to dark mode. Fonts, text size, and even the shape of the subreddit icons can all be adjusted. Preferences can be changed to hide viewed submissions and reduce animation motion. And if you’re slacking off at work or want to chill, you can set it to hide NSFW content.

Overall, Deck for Reddit makes the user experience smooth sailing, and it truly makes Reddit the “front page of the internet.”

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Instagram now lets you create and share fundraisers

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Instagram Fundraiser

Instagram announced last week that it has launched a test for a Personal Fundraiser tool on its platform. The feature will allow users to start their own fundraiser if it complies with guidelines or choose an existing cause to support. The launch began in some US, UK, and Ireland markets and is available on Android and iOS.

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To start a Personal Fundraiser, users with access to the feature can tap “Edit Profile”, “Add Fundraiser”, followed by “Raise Money”. They can then choose a photo, select the fundraiser category, and write out a story to encourage donations. When approved, users will be able to raise funds.

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This feature is similar to the fundraising feature already available on Facebook, Instagram’s parent company.

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