Consumer Guide excerpt: Clearwire brings flexible price plans to broadband services

Editor’s Note: The following post is an excerpt from our new report, Goin’ Mobile: How WiMax Could Change the Consumer Broadband Experience. In this excerpt we talk about how flexible, innovative pricing schemes from main provider Clearwire may help drive the adoption of WiMax services by consumers. The report, which updates our previous consumer guide with the latest in market launch information from Clearwire’s Atlanta, Las Vegas and Portland markets, is available for purchase from our website for $4.95.

WIMAX PRICING, MARKETS AND ROAMING

If there is any other hallmark that differentiates WiMax pricing, it is Clearwire’s long list of flexible options, which include choices of different levels of service speed as well as “bundling” options that offer lower prices when consumers combine two services, such as a home service and a mobile service.

While writing about Clearwire service pricing is an inexact science (since the company has rapidly repriced and reduced prices on options in the first six months of 2009 alone) its entry-level price for basic home WiMax service has remained steady at $20 a month. Its fastest home-service option, which offers 6 Mbps download speeds, was priced at $40 per month as of the writing of this report. An unlimited-usage mobile service option was priced at $50 per month, with promised download speeds of 4 Mbps. And a combination of unlimited home and mobile services — say a home modem and a USB card tied to the same bill — was priced at $65 per month.

Another difference between Clearwire’s pricing and that of other service providers is the option to pay month-by-month, without any long-term contract or early termination fees. The company also offers a “day pass” for $10 that allows users to test the service before committing to longer contracts. In June 2009 Clearwire started offering more aggressive discounts for customers who signed longer contracts, often waiving the standard introductory connection fees or lowering monthly prices for a short period of time. Clearwire executives said in May that they expect more discounts on services and devices later in 2009, as partners such as Intel and laptop manufacturers start their WiMax marketing campaigns.

Pricing for Sprint’s hybrid 3G/4G card in June 2009 was $79.99 for the card and $79.99 per month for the service, which covers both WiMax and 3G usage. Sprint has said that it expects to offer the card and service in every market Clearwire launches in 2009, typically a few months after Clearwire starts offering service. (A longer list of recent Clearwire pricing packages is appended to the end of this report.)

For nationwide WiMax roaming, consumers will likely have to wait until Clearwire builds out more markets, or until expected partnerships ensure roaming between disparate WiMax provider networks. Though Clearwire has enough licensed spectrum to eventually provide WiMax services in most of the country’s main population areas — which would then support nationwide roaming just like cellular services do today — the company says that the bigger base of users may be those looking for roaming around the neighborhood, instead of around the nation.

“We think there is a big underserved market below the professional 3G users,” says Atish Gude, Clearwire’s senior vice president and chief marketing officer. “The main utility will be having the ‘real’ Internet with you wherever you go.”

In Goin’ Mobile: How WiMax Could Change the Consumer Broadband Experience, Sidecut Reports looks in detail at the recent market launches of Clearwire’s “Clear” WiMax services in Portland, Ore., Atlanta and Las Vegas, and how WiMax’s combination of speed, mobility, and innovative pricing might satisfy the growing consumer demand for an always-on Internet experience.

Prepared in an easy-to-read style with deep background material for those who may not have understood WiMax before, the report provides a thorough explanation of the technology, devices, applications and consumer use of the country’s newest form of wireless broadband access service. Order your report now!

About Paul Kapustka

Paul Kapustka is a longtime journalist who has spent more than two decades covering the information technology business, Paul most recently has been focusing on mobility and how it has changed the computing and collaborative landscape. His newest project outside Mobile Enterprise 360 is a research and analysis operation called WiFi Journal. He is also editor in chief of Mobile Sports Report, which covers the intersection of mobile technology and sports business. Paul is also the founder of Sidecut Reports, a research firm that covered the emergence of 4G technology in the cellular marketplace.