Clearification: Why I Hate XOHM


On December 1st, I wrote an article titled, “Let’s Be Clear: I Love XOHM” discussing my troubles with Comcast Internet service and how Sprint’s XOHM – soon to be Clearwire’s Clear – saved the day. I’m sad to say that I have to amend that article after having an equally agitating experience (compared to Comcast). If you have no clue what we’re talking about, check our early XOHM Review.

My girlfriend had an ALL day event at the Baltimore Convention Center and to show my support I decided I would tag along for the entire day. Basically 8am to 8pm. I didn’t think I would last the ENTIRE day so I brought my laptop and my XOHM USB card, figuring I would pop upstairs for an hour or two during the event and get some work done.

A few hours went by and my butt was sore from the hard metal folding chairs, “Time for some XOHM,” I thought to myself. I popped open my laptop, slid in the USB card… no service.

I took a look around me and DUH – I was in the basement. Unless XOHM was able to penetrate the Bat Cave, it was pretty obvious why I didn’t get a signal. So I happily marched to the nearest exit and escalated up the escalators. I found a nice comfy chair next to power outlet and plugged myself in, ready to roll!

Connection problems. WHAT THE WHAT? Just to be sure I restarted my computer and AT FIRST it seemed to do the trick – although painfully slow, I was able to pay for my $5/day XOHM connection and begin surfing the web. Except for the surfing the web part.

Despite the fact that I was in the MIDDLE OF BALTIMORE within a couple blocks of THE INNER HARBOR:

Not only that, I was in a building whose walls were almost exclusively made of GLASS:

I paid my $5 but couldn’t get a signal capable of loading anything more than Google in under 60-seconds. It was pretty infuriating. Imagine if you signed up for a month figuring, “I’m smack dab in the middle of the coverage area?” – don’t be too sure of yourself, test it first.

I WILL say that this is XOHM/Clear’s first city and they chose Baltimore because of the difficulties (Proximity to water, brick buildings) but not being able to get reception smack dab in the middle of Baltimore city, sitting not only in a building with walls of glass but also in a building that generates more business-person traffic than any other location in the city is just unacceptable.

The new Clearwire needs to address this signal strength/coverage issue immediately. A problem like this is a PR and Marketing disaster waiting to happen. Its ONE thing to expect people to get this in their homes but marketing it as a hotspot as big as a city when you are standing on the cities freaking DOT and can’t do anything but pay them is pretty pitiful.

Furthermore, we’ve speculated that Mobile Phones will be built with XOHM/Clear capabilities to essentially be used like WiFi – only you never have to worry about being connected. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear as if it’ll be that easy. WiFi has its limits, but at least you know what they are. Running around town with a XOHM connection when you never know where it will/won’t work is just begging for disaster.

And for me, disaster struck. That was a long 12 hours and I blame it all on XOHM. But, it DID force me to watch my girlfriend’s event in its entirety and looking back, I’m grateful for that. But XOHM was supposed to be my wingman and he bailed on me… and that’s something I won’t soon forget.

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. You are one of the whiniest people to ever post on the web. Why don’t you grow a pair and report your problems to Sprint instead of cry about it all day?

  2. And instead of starting phandroid, I probably should have just sent google an email, thanking them for making Android… amazingly enough, there are people that enjoy this type of insight, especially when Clearwire is an upcoming mobile connectivity service in which GOOGLE has a stake which could, potentially, be used in conjunction with Android handsets.

    BTW: you are whining about my whining. so… ironic much?

  3. Some architectural glass used in big construction is metalized, and can interfere with ghz range signals. Still, coverage should have been addressed in a venue that prominent. Keep up the good reporting.

  4. What kind of insight is this? You merely told a little anecdote about your weekend and whined about cell service. If people really found this post insightful they would reply with words of encouragement and stroke your little ego.

  5. I like the way you backdated the comment. It was not present when I originally posted my second one. So much for freedom of the press. What’s next? Are you going to start censuring me?

  6. It’s called comment moderation to reduce spam. Despite your criticism, I still allowed it. On another article, I deleted a comment for racist slurs/comments. I apologize for not refreshing my comments every 30 seconds to make sure all the trolling comments get published as quickly and easily as yours.

  7. What an idiot… Some people just do not take the time to think before they speak, or in this case write. And then they have to blabber on and on to try to cover their tails. I for one am a loyal reader of Phandroid Mr. Jackson. I enjoy your articles and check back daily. I am also interested in what type of comment moderation system you use on your blog.

  8. Ok this is imprtant. I totally agree this is a possible disaster. I have been following this wimax xohm baltimore launch since almost a year ago and I still haven’t tried the service yet, for this very reason. where I live, there is signal/coverage less than a halfamile away and the commute to school( what a bitch) is a huge reason I want a “better” mobile device, but I am all about efficiency, you know, getting the best out of my device at all times, if not then most of the time. I am totally willing to invest in xohm, I just feel like they should be better job at assuring coverage. The generalized “hotspot city” is unacceptable b/c of exp like rob jackson’s. I appreciate two different sides of the coin. I mean I don’t wanna be smack dab downtown and my mobile device or laptop gets no signal! wtf That’s like saying ” here pay me $650, we’ll go downtown, but you can’t go inside, you can’t enjoy the waterview, or anything else that makes baltimore unique and majestic.” so I can basically only use you when I smoke, if I’m a hot location. that’s like meeting a someone at a nightclub who only wants to go to the nightclub for dates, well no, it’s worse than that, at least I’ll get some booty from a clubber.

  9. This is probably why they are working on making a USB device available that can switch to 3G in areas where 4G WiMax signal is not available.

    If you are going to critisize a new service you should be more accurate and say that it is more of a signal issue and not a WiMAX issue. At the higher frequencies there are issues with those pesky laws of physics!

  10. Being a techie with quite a bit of GSM/CDMA/HSDPA (2G/3G) implementation experience I can tell you that Clear (the new name for XOHM) is doing well. Usually new technologies take ages to get working, but WiMAX works fine where there is coverage. That, believe it or not, is hard to accomplish! HSDPA was performing much worse when we offered commercially at first back then.
    Perhaps the only thing I would blame Clear is that they have not learned from mistakes of other wireless providers and kept the service in Beta for some time whilst buil;ding up coverage, offering free access but selling devices to get some cashflow. (This is what the Russian WiMAX provider Scartel has succesfully done with their brand Yota).
    Go Clear, it is in the benefit of all that new wireless technologies (WiMAX or LTE or others to follow) are rolling out so smooth!

  11. I bought XOHM a week ago. I am 1/2 mile from three towers. It turns out that I can get between 1 flashing bar and 1 solid bar, or about 1.5 megabits (I get 7.5 from Comcast cable). I also can’t seem to find anywhere that the USB card works (I bought the 2 for $50 plan).
    The people I have talked to have been extremely nice, but the product, at the current time, sucks. Unfortunately I went past my 7 day trial since I gave them time to try to get it to work, so I’m stuck with the modems.

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