Let’s Be Clear: I Love XOHM!


Pretty much every tech source out there is reporting that the merger between Sprint’s XOHM WiMax service and Clearwire has been finalized with $3.2 Billion in funding coming from Google, Comcast, Intel, Time Warner and Bright House Networks. What a coincidence… Comcast has failed me miserably in the past week and today I purchased a XOHM Wireless USB connection.

This past Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, I woke up early to write a couple articles for phandroid. A sigh of WTF billowed out as I could not connect to the internet. Repair network – nothing. Restart computer? nothing. Reset my modem, router and computer? Nada. Zilch. Zero.

So I call customer service and after 1 hour on the line? Nothing. Well that’s not completely true… they scheduled a technician to come out today (Monday) 5 days later. Luckily I have a few alternative places I can “stay” and access the Internet… so a trip it was!

I came back this morning to find that:

  1. My roomate rescheduled the appointment for Sunday
  2. They never came
  3. My roomate called and they rescheduled for Tuesday

So that left me here, on Monday, without access to Internet. Sure, I could have packed my bags and headed to a little cafe with WiFi. Or I could even make an hour or so drive to one of the several friends/family who would take me in for the day/night so I could leech their interwebs. But I have a bunch of packages on the way and need to be home for the next several days to ensure they arrive.

But beyond that, I was sick of the uncertainty. This could happen at any given time – Comcast could just POOF go out – and I could be left without a convenient internet connection for days on end. And no, there aren’t any other WiFi signals I can pick up from my house that aren’t painfully slow.

I took a quick drive to BestBuy and grabbed a XOHM USB hub for $60, came home, installed the software, paid for 24 hours service for $5 and within 10 minutes I had a blazing fast connection to the internet. A blazing fast connection that for all intents ans purposes, can’t go down.

I know I’m opening up the door to  all sorts of agruments in the comments, but I’m simplifying the facts. The point is, even if XOHM service WERE to go down it would get back up and running MUCH faster. Because they are more than likely fixing a tower rather than having to set up an individual schedule to fix my personal problem.

Comcast is scheduled to come tomorrow between 7am and 10am at which point they’ll either fix the problem or diagnose the problem and schedule another ridiculous time several days into the future that they plan on fixing it. If the latter happens, I’ll probably tell them to take a hike and just start using XOHM full-time.

XOHM packages are both unique and awesome, if you ask me. You can get 24 hour web access for $5 or a month of web access for $30. The best part? No contracts! Just pay by the month! I’m lucky to be in Baltimore where XOHM made its debut and I’m happy it did. XOHM was a lifesaver for me today and it will probably save me again tomorrow when Comcast shows their incompetence yet again. In fact, many people I know locally are switching their Internet/TV service to Verizon.

And this is where the story comes full circle. Tomorrow, I might be leaving Comcast to use XOHM full time. But XOHM was part of Sprint and the service will be renamed Clear under the new company, Clearwire. The same Clearwire that was just approved for $3.2 Billion in financing… $1 Billion of which comes from Comcast.

So is this a case of “The Grass Is Always Greener Between The Two Fences Which is Partially Owned By Numerous Neighbors?” You betchya… and that is the main problem that Clearwire will have if you ask me. There are many stakeholders in Clearwire that have priorities and interests pulling in different directions. If execs in these companies sit on the Clearwire board or hold prominent positions in the company, there will be a tremendous conflict of interest that could create huge problems.

Myself, I’m sure along with many reading this article now, would love to see XOHM/WiMax/Clear used to conjunction with mobile devices, like an Android Phone, to support tremendous growth in mobile web speed and capabilities. Officials at Comcast and Time Warner likely have other ideas in mind. You can spin it however you want but the fact is that resources are never unlimited and at some point, decisions on how and where to use those resources must be made.

If one were looking at this in the most optimistic of manners than the investment is an insurance policy purchased by the investors. They’ll have a stake in a possible industry juggernaut moving forward and regardless of how their own company performs, Clearwire will provide some balance and diversity depending on which direction the tech sector heads next… its often hard to tell.

But lets not be naive. Do you think for a second that these huge companies with enormous power not only within their industry but within the world are just going to plop down hunderds of millions of dollars, pat Clearwire on the back and say, “go out and play?”

Not a chance. They’re going to keep an eye on their investment and make sure the company is being managed properly. And what Comcast or Time Warner views as “properly” could differ greatly from what Google views as “properly”.

That’s one way to look at it. The pessimistic way to look at it. But you could also look at Clearwire as more of a “meeting of the minds” where the best ideas and actions will be discussed by these various stakeholders and the CEO of Clearwire will attempt to do what is best for the company and its investors moving forward. Sound familiar?

It reminded me a lot of what Barack Obama said today as he announced more members of his cabinet including Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State:

“I assembled this team because I am a strong believer in strong personalities and strong opinions,” he said.

“I think that’s how the best decisions are made. One of the dangers in a White House, based on my reading of history, is that you get wrapped up in group-think and everybody agrees with everything and there’s no discussion and there are no dissenting views. So I am going to be welcoming a vigorous debate inside the White House.”

And if this Obamian perspective is to be believed, then Clearwire CEO Benjamin C. Wolff had better be prepared to be a strong, visionary leader.

So as I sit here writing this article with my little XOHM USB plugged in, I am quite literally wondering if I am looking at my solution for today’s problem or if another industry powerhouse is being created before our eyes. Unfortunately, the answer is anything but Clear.

[Via Clearwire PR]

Rob Jackson
I'm an Android and Tech lover, but first and foremost I consider myself a creative thinker and entrepreneurial spirit with a passion for ideas of all sizes. I'm a sports lover who cheers for the Orange (College), Ravens (NFL), (Orioles), and Yankees (long story). I live in Baltimore and wear it on my sleeve, with an Under Armour logo. I also love traveling... where do you want to go?

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  1. Great article. I feel your pain, and I think most readers can relate to your frustration.

    I happen to be in Tampa, where BrightHouse is the predominant cable company. I’m pleased to say I’ve been quite pleased with their internet (and cable) offerings, and their customer service is among the best in the biz.

    As per your speculations on the future of ClearWire, you’re crystal ball seems as good as any at this point. In any case, it’s an excellent reminder of just how dependent we are all becoming on purchasing services from the big Telcos. Frankly, it would be really nice to have cheaper (and reliable) alternatives. I know in France there’s a company called Free, and for something like 30 Euros, you get high speed, cable TV and I think even cellphone service.

    Everyone knows the demand for internet-everywhere is there, but the race to see who can deliver it to the masses is still being played out. Whereas countries like the Britain and Canada have state-run television (BBC and CBC), I wonder if they (and other countries) might come to see internet access as a similar public necessity, and start to offer it as such to their citizens.

  2. Have you run a speed test on your XOHM connection @ yet? I’d be interested to see what kind of numbers you’re getting. I’m in the Baltimore suburbs and thinking alot about Clear (Xohm) when It gets out this far.

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