A thought that brought a huge grin to my face was the prospect of kicking Comcast to the proverbial curb. I’ve had a bad taste in my mouth for years after being force fed their business practices with no alternatives in sight, due to my town’s mafia-like control of internet access. So after a long discussion with the 4G “Clear” reps, I decided to to give it a shot with both the home and laptop 4G adapters. For those of you unfamiliar with the term 4G (also known as WiMax), it refers to the fourth generation of cellular wireless standards. The Clear folks cheerfully told me that speeds were as good, if not better than Comcast and … there were no download caps. Not that I use more than what Comcast currently allows, but I can see the the future and 250GB ain’t gonna cut it. Take into account my home with its streaming Netflix, security cameras, internet HD TV, Slingboxes, internet radio, monitored burglar alarm system, Dish Network satellite internet interface, gaming, six VOIP phone lines and regular, normal internet usage … despite how Comcast tries to convince you how big 250GB “really is” … it really isn’t all that much.

It’s an eighth of the capacity of a single, modern big hard drive. If 250GB was really all that huge, who would possibly need a two terabyte hard drive? Yet the HD manufacturers are selling them by the hundreds of thousands … So who’s lying? The truth is Comcast won’t spend the money required (you can do that with a captive audience) to bring the U.S. to the speeds that every other civilized country on the planet has at an affordable price … hence, the caps.

I decided to keep the cable internet while I tested the new 4G Clear system. I then selected six major points around the globe to use as reference points for download/upload speeds and latency. Testing was done several times at different times of the day. Additionally, all the devices mentioned earlier were used as a practical test bed. After over two weeks of testing and many phone calls to technical support at Clear, the new 4G system never won a single victory in any of the three important categories. In fact, most of the time, the hated Comcast slaughtered Clear by multiples of two to four. And occasionally, as much as fifteen times faster! Upload speeds with Clear were pathetic at best … and that’s being kind. Many times the upload speeds were so slow, as when emailing family photos taken with a ten megapixel camera, that it crippled the entire home network access to the web.

The mobile Clear option was passable for basic laptop usage … but then again, so is 3G. But definitely not the fire breathing system they advertise. Clear says that you can have speeds that normally are only available at home and businesses, on the road … my testing once again shows that is patently false.

So I’m stuck back where I began … with Comcast.

To the credit of Clear, they took back all the equipment at their own cost and didn’t charge me a dime. Every single person I spoke with at Clear seemed genuinely sincere about wanting me to be happy and I feel they did almost everything they could to keep me, short of giving me the service for free. In the end, it simply came down to speed … Clear didn’t have any. It might have been impressive in 1997, but by today’s standards (for home/business use) it’s unusable for anything but basic surfing.

I still have one distant hope … Google is selecting one town to be the recipient of their new gigabyte speed rewiring and connection to the internet. My town is vying for that prize even now. But unless my hometown hits the “Google lottery”, we are stuck with a company that dislikes us as much as we dislike it.