Clearwire's Non-WiMax Now Non-Useful: Blocks VoIP, Streaming Media

from the wonderful dept

Craig McCaw's Clearwire wireless outfit has received plenty of attention -- mainly for being run by Craig McCaw. Late last year, Intel had to pay Clearwire to convince them to use WiMax (which, still doesn't actually exist) as the core of their wireless offering, as WiMax was proving to be increasingly less than the hype would have you believe. Earlier this month, Bell Canada made a surprise announcement, saying they would provide VoIP for Clearwire in the US -- giving the Canadian telco a way to enter the US market. Still, it appears the folks at Clearwire haven't been paying attention to the whole "network neutrality" debate or the fact that an ISP has been fined for blocking Vonage. Instead, Clearwire proudly states that they will block any application they don't like -- including non-Bell Canada VoIP and any streaming audio or video offering. In other words, Clearwire's wireless broadband is becoming close to useless, because they want to control what you can and can't do over it. They claim they need to do this "to ensure network performance reliability," but can't explain how it's okay for them to offer VoIP, but Vonage must be blocked. More importantly, if Clearwire is saying they can't have a stable network when people are doing VoIP or streaming media, it certainly raises a lot of questions about the quality of WiMax.

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  1. identicon
    Chad, 6 May 2007 @ 4:54pm

    Inherently Incompatible

    In case any of you had managed to get VOIP (Vonage in my case) to work with clearwire, but not very well, here's the reason. The dirty little secret that everone in the wireless internet community seems to know (at least Clearwire and Xanadoo)is that VOIP and Clearwire are inherently incompatible. Since clearwire is based off of a cell tower, they are using some sort of CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) based technology to transmit data. CDMA means that there is a code indentifying your phone call or in this case internet data attached to every packet sent or received. This means that out of 100 packets, if 5 of them are yours, they might be number 2,12,97,98, and 99. VOIP, like mosst phone service relies on time divided data signals. Data is broken into regulary broadcast packets, and you are always 5th in the queue every time. Clearwire might behave normally at times with VOIP, but watch out, the packets are not sceduled regualrly, so choppy audio is what you get.

    On the other hand, considering all limitations, if you are in decent range to the tower and don't want to use Clearwire for VOIP, then it could meet your needs just fine. I still hate them though.

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