Confirmed: Clear WiMax Bandwidth Throttling

Earlier this week, an Engadget post appeared reporting that Clear WiMax (aka 4G wireless) throttles bandwidth for users who have used a ‘substantial’ amount of bandwidth. The exact amount isn’t clear but 10GB appears as a common number. Once you trigger the throttle, you’re stuck at 0.25 megabit for an indeterminate amount of time. As it turns out, I’ve signed up for Clear and am still within their trial period. If there’s a cap, now would be the time to find it.

Some background: Clear is a WiMax service (formerly known as Clearwire), owned mostly by Sprint and with significant investment from Comcast. They allow you to sign up for ‘unlimited’ service at a fairly reasonable fee. Although they don’t promise specific speeds, they’ve clocked in at 10+ megabits for home service with a good signal, and mobile on the go service that can do about 5-6 megabits as well. They’ve been pushing it very hard here in Baltimore, which was one of the very first markets to get it (Portland being the other). I liked the idea and decided to try it.

I tested for a bandwidth cap by starting to download fairly substantial but still reasonable amounts of data on the third day of my service. The data was mainly HTTP downloads from TechNet/MSDN, but also included some low level torrent activity overnight. I started the testing on Wednesday, Sept. 29 2010. Today morning is Saturday, Oct 2 and I’ve hit the cap. reports about 0.24 megabit. As it turns out, Clear has a site that reports how much bandwidth you’re using. Let’s see how I did!

Not so hot. The total is just north of 18GB and the throttle has kicked in. I don’t consider myself a heavy bandwidth user, and I think bandwidth caps (like Comcast’s 250GB) are completely reasonable. However, 18GB is simply ridiculous for a service that advertises itself as ‘unlimited’, especially when Clear’s customer service assured me earlier in the week that there is no throttling. This is a data level that would be easy to hit using video streaming services or digitally purchasing software (Steam!).

How does this compare to the Verizon ADSL service I already had? Pricing is the same at about $45 per month for home service, but Clear has me on a two year contract while Verizon is month-to-month. Speeds are about the same at about 6.5 megabits peak. I’ve never hit any kind of cap on Verizon’s service, whereas I crashed into Clear’s cap almost immediately.

I’ll be canceling my Clear service first thing Monday morning.

UPDATE: Take a look at this graph from Netflix:

See which ISP is on the bottom? Clearwire.


55 thoughts on “Confirmed: Clear WiMax Bandwidth Throttling

      1. I guess you’d have to unlock it first and use something other than an iOS device, because going to that website from an iThing yields the message that you have to have the Flash player installed to view the usage charts (no info is otherwise displayed). Oh, the irony…

  1. When did Clear start implementing this? Their latest lying POS Acceptable Use Policy ( is dated June 9, 2010. But I don’t think they’ve been throttling like this since June.

    As for “lying POS” I quote: “During periods of congestion, Clearwire uses various techniques such as reducing the data rate of individual bandwidth intensive users whose use is negatively impacting other users. This temporarily limits the amount of bandwidth available to the bandwidth intensive users until the congestion has diminished, at which point Clearwire will endeavor to lift any limits it may have imposed on bandwidth intensive users during the period of congestion.”

    This is clearly NOT what they’re doing. Right now it’s Midnight, and they’re throttling me. Those airwaves must be really congested right now.

    1. I am being throttled 24/7, NOT just during peak times. I used a total of about 20 Gigs during the month, mostly through YouTube and Netflix, plus uploading websites for clients. I am extremely angry, and I’ve filed a complaint for false advertising with the FTC, as when I signed up their website said:

      “Usage is unlimited – believe it. You can upload, download, and surf as much as you want for one low price with any of the CLEAR Internet plans. We don’t slow down your connection – the way some Internet providers do – if we think you are using too much bandwidth.”

      File a complaint. In fact, I’m actively searching for a class action lawsuit to join, because I signed up when their website said this, and I am being throttled to high heaven all day long every single day – even at 2 or 3 AM!

      1. T let me know if you find anything about a class action lawsuit..Ive had Clear since april and never had a problem…but in the last 5 months my internet has been very very slow.I didnt suspect throttling till i saw a complaint on Clears forum. Ive called Cust service on several occasions to no avail, they tell me that Clear isnt capping my internet that its congestion I say thats (bullsh@#t).Needless to say Im so pissed off Ive even threaten to sue them.
        I find it funny that Comcast has put their greedy fingers into Clears pie and now Clear cant produce what they advertise. I pay $45 a month for unlimited usage to the internet Up to 10 mbs ive never went passed 1.4mbs i didnt complain about that figuring i am on a laptop and its wirless, but now i get a worthless .24 to .60mbs. I mean come on if your going to throttle peoples internet why make so blantant.
        I say we SUE the corporate greedy bastards!!!!!!
        H Davis

        1. LMK too! I have had Clear for about a year now, and although I am not as knowledgeable as the other posters on this issue, I know that their promise of fast service, allowing you to watch video, etc, it is a lie, and their service is really not “fast” or any of the other things they promise in their ads! I will be quick to join any class action lawsuit!

      2. I am in B-more as well as the author, I have been with Clear for about 3 years now or close to it. Ever since I signed up, the service has never been what I would call fast. In general, I use Netflix, YouTube, basic web surfing, and I used to play a lot of MMO games. Now that may sound like a lot, but it’s not like I was running bit torrents or anything. No Napster or iTunes or anything else that would cause a lot of traffic that wasn’t “regular use” as is regular for me and I am the one paying for it after all right? Plus, I have the highest paid plan available for the mobile modem, 3g+4g and yet still lag in games at the best of times.

        There has only been throttling 3 or 4 times, but when it did it made the service USELESS and it was always when I made a major change to my system, purchased a new PC & had to re download all the game clients or if I wanted to upload a video to YouTube [which took FOREVER btw.] Then, like everyone else the speed dropped to 0.24-ish, and stayed that way for 1-2 weeks! Cummon, seriously? Now, I am fortunate because I discovered that a local bar has public WiFi for their customers & they have Comcast Business according to I use it most of the time now unless I need a more secure connection because the WiFi isn’t always as stable when gaming. However, the speed is around 8-10mps compared to my Clear which is only 1.77 Down & 0.78 Up currently and I haven’t even been using it AT ALL in the past 2 days!! Pathetic since I am paying $55.00 for the full shebang yet, Im getting better service from the local pub for freebees, does this sound right? One more for the class action LS pls.

        I call the customer service and the story I got was that “the system” determines who/when a person is to be cut back and they have no control over it, I said, “..but it’s unlimited?” She says, “Yes, it is unlimited* but, your using too much so the system automatically attempts to balance it so it is even for everyone.” I said, “..but I pay you for an UNLIMITED service by the month, not as long as the system decides it’s balanced!” I could hear the derp, on her end, they’re wrong and they know it. By George she finally just got it!

    2. I am being throttled 24/7 also. Right now ).50 is great for me. Ironically, I just this afternoon was at a friends house and he has used 44Gigs since 3/4/2012 this is being posted on 3/15/2012. His speeds according to speedtest .net were over 10.0Mbps!!! With a one day usage of over 11Gigs.

  2. Today after seeing (and verifying) the 26KB/s rate, I called clear.

    After 2 or 3 operators who lied saying there were no bandwidth restrictions, especially as I requested verbatum a check to see if a limiter flag was tagged on my account, they fired me off to the final tech support.

    After an hour of bandwidth testing, she went to talk to a technical lead (I assume her manager).

    She came back saying a ‘limit’ was tagged to my account so that other users would have a ‘fair share of use’ on the account. NO WHERE in their documnentation for their ‘unlimited access account’ does it say any type of limiting what so ever except for ‘abuse’ which would be considered 24/7 usage.

    My wife’s and my usage?

    Netflix on XBox live, playing an online game 4 hours a day between both of us, and casual web browsing.

    If this is ‘abuse’ that tags their 26kb limit, then frankly any casual user of the internet will be hitting it.

    Oh, and the sweetest thing about this? They said the limit is usually ‘only’ a week, maybe two weeks, and then network is restored.

    Why the hell would I use an internet provider that offers ‘unlimited access’ when 2 out of 4 weeks you’re stuck at modem speeds?

    No thank you, I think I’ll go with Sprint.

  3. Please take the advise and DO NOT ORDER CLEAR. I have been stuck in the “NIMS” system for over a week and only get .25 mbps. I am not a power user, but I do steam some video & music. Not what I signed up for so off to Comcast we go

  4. i am a clear customer in the houston area…i too have been throttled for about a week… i think it is BS… i would of never EVER signed up for this crap if i would says all the place UNLIMITED…what a big of s**t my friend who has comcast says his monthly limit is 300Gb…i always tell everyone i know how crappy clear is and tell them to stay away

  5. This is a transcript of a conversation with a rep. from their company. Notice that they deny the throttling. I change the rep. name because she/he is not guilty. It is the decision makers’ fault.

    Hello Ricardo. Please wait while we find a CLEAR specialist to help you.
    You are a new customer with a Tech Support question.
    You have been connected to Clear Rep.
    Clear Rep: Hi Ricardo! I’ll be happy to help you today!
    Ricardo: Hi.
    Ricardo: My questions is whether you throttle users that use lots of bandwidth (e.g. Netflix users).
    Clear Rep: I understand that you have questions about the service
    Clear Rep: We do not throttle the service.
    Ricardo: Ok, so if I get your service, you guarantee that I won’t be throttled for my bandwidth usage (I watch movies on Netflix), right?
    Clear Rep: I am sorry but I can not guarantee the amount of signal you will receive. This is based on location and interference
    Ricardo: Ok, besides for location and interference, you can guarantee that Clear won’t purposely limit my bandwidth, right?
    Clear Rep: I am sorry but I can not make any guarantees. I support the devices when there are technically difficulties
    Ricardo: Ok, sorry to hear that. Thanks anyways.
    Ricardo: Good bye.

  6. I started Clear service in December. There is a transmitter close by, bombarding my building with a rich signal. For a few weeks – during the trial period and up to the time they sent me a survey – I was delighted to see I was getting 2-4 Mbps download speeds. About a week or so ago, I suddenly noticed my performance had deteriorated. Now, I’m getting just over 1 Mbps for normal browsing. When I download a file, I seem to be capped at 56-60 Kbps (that’s right! dial-up speed). I’ll be looking for another ISP…

  7. Just got off the phone with a Clear supervisor who informed me I was being “managed”. I was clocked at a little over 100g a month of data and they capped me at about .6mp/s. I was told if I only checked my email and watched maybe one or two youtube videos a day.they would take off the cap, but I can not use my internet for anything more or they would put it back on. This is of course right after upgrading to the fastest modem and upgrading my bandwidth. So… what exactly am I paying for? With four people that avidly use the internet, this just does not work. Dont’t really appreciate being scolded for using a service I am paying for.

  8. I am retired. I have found a new hobby. I now respond to as many clear “forum” customer complaints as I can. Oh yea, I’m stuck with clear for the mean time. I run speedtest every day and post it frequently with my “F-” rated connection from clear you can guess what the drift of my message is to clear. I have filed a Form 2000A deceptive advertising complaint with, the FCC, and have received corespondence from Clear Corporate VP for Regulatory Affairs. I suggest frequently for clear customers to do the same. At least we can get them to use up a couple of reams of paper, envelopes, and stamps with the replies.
    Clear offers a lesss than truthful presentation of their product. Everyone should do their part to seek compliance with FCC regs.

  9. When I first got Clear I could stream my Slingbox easily. Lat week I loaded a large torrent (8gb) and BOOM! Slingbox is so slow it’s unwatchable.

    Speed test still shows 1,5-2.0 but they must be specific on what they block.

  10. My download speed results after I have been throttled:

    Your Speed (136 Kbps)
    Comparable to Your Average (136 Kbps)
    94% slower than Host Average (2.1 Mbps)
    98% slower than the Index (6.1 Mbps)

  11. “I don’t think you’re running correctly… 95% slower than host average & 98% slower than the Index.”
    StarScore: -193/200

  12. They told me if I turn it off for 2 hours, the device will then reset back to normal. I Doubt it but i will let you know what happens. Seems like they are throttling alot of customers lately and they are getting high call loads. Unfortunately doing this just leaves me to cancel their project and go with wired because I cannot continue this level of service. Downloading some ISOS alone for work and business takes 15 gb right there into 1-2 days.

  13. A Clear representative confirmed the following for me today:
    * Throttling starts at about 4 gigabytes of bandwidth usage over the last week; connection is throttled to 1.2 mbps
    * At 6 gigabytes of bandwidth usage over the last week, connection is throttled to .9 mbps
    * At 8 gigabytes of bandwidth usage over the last week, connection is throttled to .6 mbps

    The representative also lied to me about 6 times during the call about my account, so he probably isn’t to be trusted, but still…

  14. By the way, turning off the Clear modem for any amount of time has no effect beyond getting you closer to reaching the end of the 1 week of usage history Clear retains regarding your account.

  15. They admitted to me it’s 5 gigs per day that is the magic number. That kicks in what they call equalization. Ask them to reset the modem. My connection immediately jumped from around .3 mb to above 1mbps. On good days from clear I may get 2 Mbps if i’m lucky. They admit that in my area the tower is congested. They just start counting again though, when I break the quota it’ll trigger the throttle. I don’t know if I want to have to call them every week. They definitely don’t want me as a customer.

    And my congested tower will probably only get worse as customers come online. I thought I heard that they aren’t building any new infrastructure until they switch from wimax to LTE.

  16. According to my usage, I should not be throttled – this month only 13 gb so far and only 5 days remaining, no daily usage above 3gb. In July I used 39gb, on august 32gb…and in each of those months I had a couple daily spikes between 5 and 7gb and recall no adverse effects. However, at 2am this Wednesday, I lost the connection for a little over an hour…when it reconnected, it was soooo slow. Speedtesting between 20 and 60 kbps down and 250 and 500 kbps up. Three tries to get level 2 tech support, nearly sent me a replacement device but decided to put a

    1. they decided to put in a support request on the tower instead. Allegedly will follow up with me in 2 days and will issue a credit for 4 days of service (as if $3.25 is any consolation).

  17. Please, oh please somebody get a class-action suit against these people. I have had the exact same problem, but when I called today, I was transferred to a pre-recorded message that basically said they were aware of problems in my area and were working to resolve the issue. A second call, after just pressing zero to actually get a real person, I was scolded for my high bandwidth usage, told I was being “managed” and all the same crap they told the other people. THIS IS NOT UNLIMITED USAGE. It is an absolute LIE. These big companies think they can just push consumers around with no consequences. I think soon they will learn. They are certainly about to lose my business.

  18. Ditto here, my bandwidth is slowing down, never going above 1Mb. We can’t watch Hulu and Netflix at the same time. I’m thinking FIOS is a better alternative at this time.

    Clear’s customer support is extremely poor, but if they throttle, they won’t go the distance. My experience with them has been good and extremely bad. No one has ever figured out a way to help me put a password on my home modem. I’ve used three modems so far and replaced the mobile one once. It’s not stellar and there is a lot of room for improvement.

    In the meantime, I’ll check out other services. I don’t think it makes any sense to get mad at companies. We just need to give them heat by using their competing services.

  19. I think you guys are over-thinking Clear and their capabilities as an ISP. I don’t have a cable TV provider at all right now, my entertainment is solely Netflix and Hulu. Clear’s bandwidth for me is pretty random, maxes out at a little over 10 down (late at night usually) and spikes and dips all over the place the rest of the day. Except for between 8 and 10pm…when its reliably as slow as dial up….can barely even listen to Pandora.

    I don’t think any of us are “throttled”, we are simply at the mercy of bottlenecks from a mickey mouse isp.
    Get FIOS if its avalable to you.

  20. For the past 3 months, the service has been throttled badly. It seems Sprint doesn’t know what to do with them. I can no longer use (a great Skype alternative). I have to let them go. I signed up for Verizon again. I would have done Charter but after what they did to me, no way.

  21. I have Clear and I hit the throttle down limit on my bandwidth, so I messaged them via Clears live tech service, I kept on them on the hook for about 2 hours and talk to 3 different customer service techs, I finally got them to admit they throttle service…

    They told me 2 GB’s a day, but I find the cap is even lower then that when spread out throughout a month.

    They have me on a hook though, every other ISP involves buying basic cable, or having a land phone line.

    I thought Clear was the salvation from phone and cable rackets I was looking for, I guess I’ll swallow the data caps, they upped the throttled internet to 1mb/sec download, it’s workable, just glad I don’t do any online gaming anymore.

    1. I use video conference for work and it got so bad I couldn’t even work from home anymore. I had to go back to Verizon. I did write the California Attorney General about how Clear advertises everywhere NO CONTRACT, but there is one.

      Clear Wireless was the biggest let down of this decade for me. I don’t like Verizon but I can now work again…

  22. I just cancelled my account due to the throttling down to as low as 0.17 Mb/sec. I called them but they could not give definite numbers for allowed usage.
    If you use Speedtest and your download is lower than you upload speeds, you are being throttled.

    1. I went back to Verizon DSL and I can now use Oovoo. Clear is shooting itself in the foot and aiming for the other. I don’t think they’ll be around for another year. Sprint is getting tired of them.

  23. just got done talking to a rep, I am being throttled because i abuse service by watching netflix everyday. I speedtest every day and only get .6 mps like clockwork. I really wish i new about the throttling before i bought this so called “unlimited usuage”internet. What a dishonest company.

    1. They are highly dishonest and I hear Sprint doesn’t know what to do with them anymore. I took the time to write a letter to our state attorney to voice my complaint. Everywhere it says “no long term contract”, unfortunately, as soon as you activate your modem, it locks you in a 2 year contract. It’s unimaginable a company can do something like, claim no contract and lock you in when you use their services. It’s blatant. Watch a class action suit soon.

      I was also told to watch only 2 movies instead of 5. I told her I watched less than 3 shows a day.

      That company won’t survive another year.

  24. well they are still at it. I guess they found a different way to stop usage. Clear sent me an email telling me I am going beyond their acceptable usage policy. They sent me one feb 9 and then another feb 29 and they another two days ago. The funny part is the clear spot been broke since the 29ths email. They really should inform people that their service is not really unlimited.

  25. The company won’t be around for long. There’s no growth in their product, they are not very active and the tech support service barely got better over the years. It took them 10 months to replace three modems, and one mobile.

    Advertizing no long term contracts everywhere on their site, it’s only when you actually set up their modem that it locks you in a contract. That is complete deceitful advertising.

    That company is headed nowhere but a dead end.

  26. I dumped my cable TV in favor of watching video online and within 2 days I started being seriously throttled to 0.25MBs. Even before this my voip phone didn’t work that well. I was an early subscriber and locked in a lifetime rate of $50/mo for both a home model modem and a USB dongle with the “unlimited” data plan. It’s a great deal but I just can’t take the poor quality anymore and am going to dump them and return to Time Warner cable modem and give up the roaming. I wanted to like them but this just won’t do. I bought the equipment outright a few years ago for ~$200 in return for not having a contract. Wonder if I can sell it?

  27. Market: Las Vegas, NV. speed test: at best 0.66 mbps, basically 56k modem speeds.

    Not satisfied at all with Clear. I go month to month, no contract, and will switch to Cox Cable next month. I do alot of Netflix, Blockbuster, and Youtube, download some movies too. And Yes, Clear admitted to me they cut back on my bandwidth during peak hours.

    If i’m gonna pay 30 a month through Cox Cable, compared to the 25 i’m paying now…its worth it, if downloads happen faster.

    Clear blatently mis-advertises. If anyone knows of a class action suit going against Clear Movile Internet, please leave a reply in this forum.

  28. I had a chat with a clear representative, and asked him, point blank, if he could gaurantee that i would not be throttled, at least through 200GB of throughput, and he said yes. I took a screenshot of this, as i have lots of evidence to support otherwise, and if i am throttled, i want to be refunded, and not obligated for any contract. The link to the screenshot can be found here:

  29. well here’s my first comment on here

    after about 5 months having the 4g wimax plan ive experimented on torrent upstreams on freeleeche downloads-about 230gbs worth i have the upspeed at 753kBps to 1.5mbps using utorrent have seeded 9days Straight&OverNight on my powerful lets just call laptop from my experience clear actually so far tells the truth about truly unlimited bandwidth

    oh n dont get me wrong im not much of a torrentor i prefer to try as long as need then buy since it’s 100% legal for usa i just did this for the long way truth behind the question – does clear 4gwimax at $49/month throttle your usage speeds?answer is no;-)

  30. I disagree with thefriendlytruth. I just purchased clear this month. I have been cruising at the 3-4Mbps speed until the last 2 days. Now the speed has mysteriously dropped to around 1.5Mbps. I hit 15GB just two days ago. Seems suspicious to me. It appears that they are throttling. However, my biggest days were about two weeks ago so I think they have moved off of a weekly window to a monthly window. I share the connection with several other people for streaming music at work (as streaming isn’t allowed on the company network). Hope we can still get our tunes at the reduced bandwidth. =(

    My first month ends in a few days. I hope it resets at that point.

    1. I’m glad I moved away from them at the beginning of the year. They Clearly don’t have the infrastructure to accommodate the clients they take on. I went back to Charter and peak at 20 Mbs with 15.5 as an average for… $30 a month on a special 🙂 Who needs shoddy service, lipservice and blantant twisting the truth marketing? And when they say “no contrct” please read the fine lines. There is a contract. They lost the notes of the support techs I spoe to, said they never told me this, lied, lied and lied. These guys are untrustworthy at every level. Run away!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s