Huslage's Thoughts


Clearwire Makes Me Sad

I just received this lovely email from Clearwire, my current main broadband provider:

Dear Mr. Huslage,
While monitoring our network, we noticed that an excessive amount of internet traffic from your Clearwire connection is negatively impacting other Clearwire customers in your area.  These issues can be caused by a virus or spyware on your computer, by having a wireless router with no password set or by using peer to peer/file-sharing and FTP programs.
To prevent further strain on Clearwire’s network resources we are actively managing your connection per our terms of service.  Please contact us as soon as possible at 888-253-2794 so we can help resolve the problem.
For more information on Clearwire’s Acceptable Use Policy, please follow this link:
Thank you for your prompt attention.

This is enough to chill my bones and make me think about going back to dialup. I called the number, gave my account info and the tier 1 person sent me on to the 2nd line person to be dealt with. The 2nd line person said that my bandwidth had been degraded to aid other users in my area and I was emailed to see what I might be doing on my link. He said that engineering had been looking at my neighborhood and noticed a “large continuous upload use over the past 5 days.” I haven’t been running Bittorrent, a big server or any large file transfers over the past 5 days. I have Macs at home, not prone to the usual virii or trojan horses that might occur on an open link.  My wife plays World of Warcraft, but that’s hardly a big bandwidth hog. I informed the gentleman of these things and he promptly “fixed my modem to the Clear Premium bandwidth level” from what he called dial-up speeds. On top of this, he said that per the Acceptible Use Policy I could “do this” 3 times, but that I was okay because this was the first time.

I pay Clearwire $50 a month for the privilege of getting a 2Mbps wireless link, but I can reasonably expect to see the same modem speeds that I got in 1993 on average. Clearwire turns around and tells me that I use the thing too much and they are really turning the screws to make me feel the burn and stop using what I pay for. They try to appeal to the needs of my “neighbors” on the network. Then they have the hubris to threaten me. Forget you. I pay for service at a certain level which you never actually deliver on a consistent basis.

This sort of behavior has become commonplace in the ISP world and is very disconcerting. Back in 1993 when I helped found a large-ish ISP in North Carolina, we always strived to have the customary 20% overhead in Internet network bandwidth while maintaining at least a 30% oversubscription rate. Today’s ISPs seem to be running at somewhere greater than 100% oversubscription with no overhead in Internet network bandwidth (this is anecdotal, I have no clue what the real numbers are).

What has changed to make this happen? Bandwidth is cheaper than in 1993. Infrastructure is cheaper than in 1993. The wireless access points that Clearwire uses are even cheaper than when they started 3 years ago. The consumer has to pay the price for poor node distribution, low Internet network bandwidth and lack of infrastructure in general. The customer’s needs require them to utilize their connections fully, often through much of the day yet ISPs continue to fight to not do the investments necessary to insure customer service levels.

I sure am happy that I ordered the ADSL2 line from my friends at ISOMEDIA today. I hope they have more sense than Clearwire, who is clearly treating the customer as a liability.

4 Responses to “Clearwire Makes Me Sad”

  1. March 18th, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    Michael says:

    This is a perfect example of why I am perfectly fine paying a premium for Speakeasy, even though Comcast in our area is a lot cheaper. I do wish I got ADSL2 here though – hopefully soon.

  2. March 18th, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    ikisai says:

    I feel for you as I surf/download and generally have away at T’Internet at 20MB speeds for approx $75 a month…..at least there are still some good things about living in the UK :-)

  3. March 18th, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    Sjobeck says:

    I for one am glad that they are throttling you since I am down here in PDX & I do not want my computers to catch what cold yours have since the bits are obviously contagious. Further, I appreciate and congratulate Clearwire’s dilligence in protecting me from you & your wasting of Amerika’s most precious unnatural resource, our free bits. I hope Clearwire invades your computers with a coalation of the willing to topple you & your bytes of mass destruction. I say you are with Clearwire or against Clearwire. If you are against Clearwire, then you are just as good as a being behind the great firewall of China. In fact, I hope Clearwire bribes other ISP’s in to allowing Clearwire to use their servers as a staging ground for their bytes to amass all around you before they invade you. I hope in five years from today (as a matter of fact) we look back upon this action as the success we were always going to be told it would be.

    Freedom aint free, brutha.



  4. April 1st, 2008 at 10:12 am

    Clearwire Makes Me Sad - Part 2 « Aaron Huslage says:

    [...] Makes Me Sad – Part 2 Posted in broadband by huslage on April 1st, 2008 You may have read my earlier piece on Clearwire’s strange bandwidth management practices. Shortly after I wrote it, a [...]

Leave a Reply