Clearwire, a company based out of Washington state, launched its 4G mobile internet service in Pittsburgh today.
That means, if you subscribe to the company’s service, called Clear, your mobile devices with 4G capabilities can connect to the internet anywhere and everywhere in Pittsburgh, from the North Hills to the South Hills and from Monroeville to Carnegie. Clear also has wireless hot spot generators that allow non-4G capable devices to use the service.
“It’s all plug and play technology. If you can use a toaster you can use our product,” said Pittsburgh Territory Manager Jake Purcell.
Starting tomorrow, consumers can purchase the service at over 50 authorized dealers across Pittsburgh — none of which are on the Northside. The closest dealers are Tulsi Wireless Corp on Banksville Road or the Best Buy on McKnight Road in the North Hills.
Purcell, along with several other Clear employees, gave Chronicle staff a demonstration of the product in a van outfitted with LCD monitors and Clear 4G mobile internet.
They browsed The Chronicle’s website, played bits from an episode of The Office on Hulu.com, and looked up a video on how to change a tire on YouTube.com. So, if you have Clear and your car breaks down, and you have your laptop, you can look up how to change a tire. Smart phone users already have that capability.
Most smartphones run on 3G mobile internet. According to Clear, 4G is four times faster than 3G, with speeds of 3-6 megabits per second. Compare that to Verizon’s FiOS fiber optic internet, which was recently given an award by PC Magazine for being the fastest internet provider, and has a download speed of up to 15 megabits per second.
Jake told us Clear isn’t looking to compete with “home users,” or people who use the internet primarily at home. Instead, the company is looking to catch a market of on-the-go users. Traveling businessmen, iPad and iPod users, people who hang out in coffee shops with netbooks.
“All of a sudden [the internet is] with you, it’s completely accessible,” said Public Relations Senior Manager Debra Havins.
“You learn that you can’t live without it,” Jake added. “It’s definitely making the world smaller day by day.”
The service offers 11 options, with plans ranging from $25/month for a Wi-Fi hotspot generator that works only with Apple products like the iPad, to $55/month for a mid-range plan that includes 4G and 3G coverage, to $90/month for total coverage on the go for two people.
With schools already struggling to get kids active and a rising obesity rate across the country, is having internet access everywhere a good thing, or a not-so-good thing? What do you think, Northside?