Portland's techno-savvy reputation was rewarded recently when it was chosen as the national launch site of Clear Internet provider.
Clear is Clearwire's fourth generation Internet technology and local residents have easy access to this new wave of technology, as Kevin Kerwin of Lake Oswego Computer Repair Store and Lake Oswegan Gary Jones are authorized Clear representatives.
'This is a huge deal,' said Kerwin. 'Clear is amazing. It's fast and cost effective. It gives people a new alternative for Internet service.'
Clear is the product of Clearwire, a wireless broadband Internet service provider. Clear is a fast - really, really, really fast - portable alternative to cable modem and DSL services provided by cable television and telephone companies. Founded in 2003, it's the brainchild of Craig McCaw, who founded Cellular One, which was bought by AT and T and became AT and T Cellular. Clearwire uses WiMAX wireless technology to transmit from a network of mobile phone towers without connecting to a land-based cable or telephone.
McCaw has been working with Intel, Google, Time-Warner and Comcast on this technology for the past three years. Portland was chosen for the launch because of Intel's local involvement in the project.
'Clear gives customers a private spectrum,' said Kim Scurrah, indirect account executive with Clear. 'You don't share the connection with others, as you do with other providers. If you have a 3 Mbps or 6 Mbps connection speed, (with Clear) it is constant at that rate. Other providers' speed will fluctuate depending on how many others are using the system.
'There is confusion about speed versus latency,' she continued. 'Latency depends on 'traffic' - picture a freeway. If you have lots of traffic on the freeway, even though it should take you X amount of time to go from point A to point B, that time will be affected by what other cars on the road are doing. If you have your own lane, (which is what you have with Clear's private spectrum) you have no impediment to your progress - you can go as fast as you want.'
Scurrah called that response time the 'ping ratio' - how long it takes to send a signal and receive a response. With Clear's private spectrum there is nothing to interrupt the request.
WiMAX, which powers the Clear Network, is specifically designed for high speed Internet data usage. According to the Web site, '… that translates to fast. Like really, really, really fast. We might even need one more 'really' in there.'
Clear offers Mobile Internet, Home Internet and Business Internet options, with long- or short-term commitments. It is simple to start using the system.
'It's 'plug and play.' It is so easy a cavewoman can use it,' quipped Kerwin. 'It is so easy - all you do is plug it in to a regular electrical outlet at home and you are ready. No technicians needing to come install anything. You use a modem for your house, a USB for your laptop and an existing router for other computers in the house. No cables or phone cords to worry about.'
'Our basic service at $20 per month is 15 times faster than dial-up,' Scurrah said. Clear offers fast and faster service levels at $30 and $40 per month.
'Your monthly fee is what you are charged,' said Gary Jones. 'You don't pay taxes on our service, because we don't have any cable fees to collect. You get your signal from the cell phone tower. That is what you pay for, no add ons.'
Clear customers do have a monthly modem fee of $4.99.
Clear is available in the Portland metro area bound by Troutdale to the east, Forest Grove to the west, Battlecreek, Wash. to the north and Wilsonville to the south.
Voice over Internet Protocal (VoIP) will be available by mid-January. VoIP is a general term for a family of transmission technologies for delivery of voice communications over the Internet - in other words, phone service.
In effect, Clear gives consumers an option for Internet service and later in 2009, for telephone services.
'This is very exciting,' said Jones. 'For so long, we've been held captive by Comcast and Qwest. This is cutting-edge technology we are offering.'
Kerwin and Jones have already enrolled one customer, Brian Duffy of Lake Oswego.
'All Brian did was take the modem home and plug it in,' said Jones.
Kerwin encourages those interested to come to the store for a demonstration. Lake Oswego Computer Repair is located at 393 N. State St. The phone number is 503-349-1968.
For more information about Clear, visit the Web site at www.clear.com .