When we moved to this place in November, I tried a new Internet provider: Clear. We had been using Comcast for the past three years. My complaint was that whenever more than one family member sought the Internet at the same time on our different computers, the speed was very slow. In addition, there were a couple of peak times when our connection could crawl. Comcast speeds are like a roller coaster ride: at 5:00 a.m. it’s downhill-fast, and from 6pm to 9pm weekdays, and Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 9pm, it’s uphill-fast.
Lucky for me, when I’m not at work, my peak web surf time is 5am to noon.
This is one of the few benefits of being someone who wakes up ready for productivity about the time Saturday morning when the rest of the city is just settling down for sleep. (All together, I can count on one hand the benefits of having this precise form of Circadian Rhythm. In other words, when most of Portland is just starting to come to life, say, 9 or 10pm, I am practically unconscious from fatigue.)
The folks at Clear have persistent advertising here in Portland. They came to the house about four times in two years; they have booths at every street fair; they have billboards, television commercials; and their tiny lime-green shops with gigantic lime green and white flags are all over town.
What appealed to me was this idea of point-to-point connections. They say that since each individual user connects directly to a Clear tower from their modem, there will never be clogged pipes like I had with Comcast. They vowed to be “super fast” with 4G speeds; a claim that made me hopeful, but dubious. And the price was acceptable. It was actually slightly more than what I was paying for Internet before, because I had a bundle discount with Comcast. My commitment struggle was resolved when Clear only charged me half price the first two months, and gave me 30 days to back out of the whole plan without penalties. They provided the modem for free, and shipped it for free (express even, so the modem arrived about 36 hours after I called).
I should mention that Clear’s big claim to fame is mobile wireless, for which I have no use. You get a little plug for your laptop, and a little flat globe of a modem you put into your pocket. Then you, my friend, are a walking Internet hotspot. This is handy if you cannot let go of your notebook. Ever. And if you can’t fill the void with your iPhone and it’s miniscule screen.
Clear gave me exactly what I expected: decent, consistent speed. I never experience times when speeds are so slow I give up and turn the damn thing off. It’s not noticeably faster than my past connections; but it is like the Comcast-5am-speed all the time. It’s so far very reliable, and in three months I have never noticed a provider hiccup that prevented me from accessing whatever and whenever.
Stage two of our new Net experience can finally begin, because our new router was delivered yesterday. The old router produced the slow speeds we were trying to avoid, so I had to upgrade, but was delayed for financial reasons. We received a gift card from The Uncles on New Year’s, and the balance was enough to get exactly the router I wanted. After several days of research, I settled on the Cisco-Valet Plus.
Installation was a piece of cake. After twenty minutes, I had both laptops and the Wii connected to the Internet. I had all three running at once: with a virus software update and scan on my kid’s computer, looking up troubleshooting tips for the TI-83 to help with the kid’s homework on my computer, and watching 30 Rock on my brand new Wii Netflix channel.