Wednesday, May 09, 2012

WiMAX is Dead!


Are you new to mobile broadband and thinking about using 4G WiMAX service from Sprint, CLEAR, Time Warner, Comcast, Virgin Mobile, or NetZero? If you answered ‘Yes’ then this article is for you!

Sprint and CLEAR operate a 4G network using WiMAX technology, and recently Virgin Mobile and NetZero have begun reselling the service, too. If you watch commercials, you’ve probably also seen Verizon and AT&T running ads for 4G LTE service. It is important to understand the difference between WiMAX and LTE. Both are 4G technologies, but they are NOT equal! LTE is much, much faster than WiMAX (3-4x faster), and, more importantly, WiMAX is on its way out. Sprint and CLEAR are currently the only U.S. providers that use WiMAX (they use the same network; Sprint owns 50% of CLEAR), and they only have service in 60 cities - and they will NOT be expanding coverage any further. In fact, Sprint is abandoning WiMAX completely and working on deploying an LTE network in the near future!

Pre-paid resellers like Virgin Mobile and NetZero are now offering prepaid 4G on Sprint's WiMAX network. This is a BAD IDEA for customers. Virgin Mobile and NetZero are taking advantage of customers who are eager for 4G service but don’t understand the difference between WiMAX and LTE. Since WiMAX is barely available anywhere, isn't nearly as fast as LTE, and coverage will never be expanding, it is pointless to spend money on such service!

Instead of wasting money on WiMAX devices and service, we strongly recommend going with 4G LTE service, like Verizon offers. There isn’t an LTE option available on a pre-paid basis right now (like what NetZero is offering for pre-paid WiMAX), but there is a reliable pre-paid 3G option from Datajack available (while it’s not 4G, at least you’ll have nationwide coverage, unlike NetZero/Virgin’s WiMAX option).

The bottom line is to BE AWARE of what you’re buying: not all 4G is equal!