Clear's Mobile Users Really Use The Service

Posted by: Olga Kharif on March 16, 2010

Listen up, wireless industry. If you promise users high-speed mobile Web access — and your network actually delivers — subscribers will flock to your product.

Ask Clearwire. An average Clear service user consumes more than 7 Gigabytes of data per month, says Clearwire, which delivers access at speeds, it claims, that are up to four times faster than those available for laptops from cellular service companies. Clear allows people to plug a tiny card into a laptop’s USB port to surf the Web.

That’s equivalent to an average user streaming a couple of movies onto his or her laptop a month. While that might not sound like much, it’s a lot more usage than what most people are getting out of their mobile laptops and smartphones today. An average iPhone owner only uses up about 500 Megabytes of data a month, estimates independent wireless consultant Chetan Sharma. An average laptop owner likely consumes about double that amount.

Clearwire customers likely use the service more because it’s faster. It can deliver a faster speed because Clearwire’s network runs on a different technology, called WiMax.

Still, it’s an important lesson for other providers, such as Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility. They are investing billions to beef up their networks, and they will eventually see as much per-user broadband use. They’d better plan for it – or, else, cap the amount of bandwidth their customers can use up in order to prevent their networks from being overwhelmed with traffic.

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BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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