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Clear Admits Throttling Subscribers Despite Marketing Claims; Customers Revolt Over Bait & Switch Service

Clear made itself unclear about its speed throttle.

Clear, the 4G wireless broadband service backed by Sprint, Comcast, and Time Warner Cable is under fire for selling customers an unlimited use/”no speed limit” service plan that is heavily throttled to as low as 250kbps once customers are deemed “heavy users” by the provider.

Stop the Cap! reader Kevin in Rochester dropped us a note to share his frustration at Clear’s bait and switch marketing that promises one thing and delivers another.

It’s becoming common knowledge – but not common enough – that Clear is throttling their in-home broadband subscribers. For $30 a month, Clear delivers “unlimited 3Mbps” download speed, but after 8-10GB of usage in a month, they cut your speed to 250kbps as a punishment.

Scores of customers share Kevin’s problems, with complaints pouring in on broadband forums and on Clear’s customer support website (which crashed earlier today).  It is not known whether these usage limitations are also imposed on Comcast and Time Warner Cable’s branded 4G wireless services, which are also delivered by Clear’s network.

Remarkably, Clear’s website has marketed its broadband service as free from classic Internet Overcharging schemes like usage caps and speed throttles/network management:

Clear's own marketing promises unlimited usage with no speed reductions, unlike those "other" providers, which now also includes Clear itself. (Courtesy: Michael46)

Despite the marketing, Clear’s Rob Lenderman today admitted the company implemented a speed throttle system on Wednesday, Sept. 29 and placed the blame for doing so on peer-to-peer torrent traffic:

Last Wednesday we deployed a new automated algorithm that tries to even the playing field for all users. Essentially we tried to take users that were downloading large amounts of data over a week’s period of time and limit their top speeds during periods of high tower utilization. This system is based on a tower’s current utilization, GB’s downloaded in the past 7 days and current download speeds in the past 15 minutes. it recalculates your max D/L speed every 15 minutes based on these factors. All in there are 48 buckets of max D/L speeds based on these factors.

The expected results of these changes was that a small percentage of users would be slowed down for short periods of time but only during high utilization times on the tower.

Theoretically the very slow speeds would only last for 15 minutes and then readjust based on tower usage and the last 15 minutes of slower speeds.

The reality is that a very small percentage of users are being set at very low D/L speeds for hours at a time.

We are gathering more data as I write this and we are looking at adjustments to the policy so that the connection becomes more usable. Expect further details this week.

One thing I want to stress is that this algorithm does not apply to towers that have a low utilization which is a large percentage of the towers. Since high utilization is usually at night most users that are seeing slower speeds at night would see increases at other times of the day. We realize this is not ideal but using the system for large downloads outside normal usage hours(evening) will allow you to get higher speeds. This rule applies even if you are not being slowed. Fewer users = Higher speeds.

Expect more details in the next few days as we drill into the details and let you know what changes we will be making to make the experience better.

In the short term you can increase the speeds of your experience by reducing the number of GB sized downloads that take place. Our data shows that running a torrent is one of the reasons that people start to experience slower speeds.

[...]I use the word limit when talking about D/L speeds. Not in terms of amount of data you can download. I can assure you this is being handled at a very high level in the organization as some of the experiences some of you are having is not in the spirit of the program. As for using a P2P you will improve speeds if you run them at off peak hours. As tower utilization drops during those hours the algorithm will release more bandwidth and the apps will pick up speed. In addition fewer users will also yield an increase since the algorithm does not affect low utilization tower at all. So you get a double benefit from using off peak hours for large downloads.

We are looking at how to set the speed limits to ensure things like web browsing and youtube are useful even though large downloads may be limited in terms of speed during peak hours.

We are meeting every day to go over new data and determine a longer term solution instead of just throwing new solutions out there without putting some thought into them.

We apologize for this but we need to get it right and not just change for the sake of change.

RobL

Of course, customers promised repeatedly they would receive lightning-fast, unlimited wireless broadband from the company were unimpressed with the company’s argument that artificially slowing their speeds after as little as 20 minutes viewing Hulu or Netflix to 250kbps for several days qualified as ensuring the subscriber experience.  Many customers report Clear’s throttling is hardly limited only to peer to peer torrent traffic.  Online video streaming, in particular, routinely triggers the speed throttle for customers, something Lenderman admitted might be an issue:

We are looking at the impact of the new policy as we speak and will be reevaluating it shortly to determine what changes might need to be made.

The algorithm we use is complicated and is not intended to shut down users that use the service in a normal manner. It was intended to slow down usage from users that have bit torrents, etc running all day long.

For some of the customers that have complained we have researched it in detail and they were not being slowed by the algorithm. We have to make sure that everything is running properly as it makes no sense for us to limit users so much that the service becomes unusable.

We should have more info on what we plan to change in the next few days as we evaluate the data.

Clear becomes just the latest provider poster child for Net Neutrality in the United States.  While there may be reasonable capacity issues at stake on wireless networks not designed to accommodate 24/7 peer to peer traffic, throttling online video is another matter entirely — it’s one of the services Clear has promoted as possible using their higher speed network.  Artificially slowing a network the company sells as not being hampered by such traffic control measures is a classic case of false advertising.

One vocal Clear customer created this avatar

Customers have noticed and have attacked the company for dishonest business practices, bait and switch marketing, and violating their own internal policies.

Stop the Cap! has not seen any reports of company officials attempting to enforce early termination fees for those exiting contracts early.  Kevin noted his service was turned off as he was on the phone with a representative to process the disconnect request.  The representative also demanded Kevin return his modem.

Most who are dropping service are resuming service with their old providers, mostly cable broadband and telephone company DSL providers.  If online forum posts and Twitter tweets are to be believed, the company is losing hundreds of customers per day over their Internet Overcharging scheme.

Most likely, Clear has turned to vendors like Sandvine for “usage management” equipment that can automatically slow service for those who actually utilize the service they pay to receive.

“It is no longer about the broadband-connected home but about the broadband-connected individual,” said Tom Donnelly, EVP marketing and sales, Sandvine. “Service providers worldwide are looking for tools that enable their subscribers to stay within their service plans regardless of when, where or how they connect to the network.”

Sandvine’s products detect network conditions that trigger policies within the network to help service providers control subscribers’ Internet experience.  The latest version integrates with 3G and 4G networks to throttle speeds based on time of use or volume of data transferred.  A provider sets the parameters and the “network management” solution does the rest, automatically.

Stop the Cap! intends to monitor this situation carefully over the coming days to learn what the company intends to do with its network management scheme.  If they continue to use it, we will do our part and file a formal complaint against Clear with New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo for false advertising and misleading business practices.

It is only a matter of time before a law firm begins a class action against the company for similar reasons.  Stop the Cap! encourages Clear customers to use the company’s forum to vocally demand an end to all Internet Overcharging schemes or else you will take your business elsewhere.  You should also demand full credit for the days you experience artificially slowed speeds, and please let us know if you are asked to pay any early termination fee for exiting a Clear term contract.

Currently there are 54 comments on this Article:

  1. Terry says:

    Attorney General’s Office. File a complaint for bait and switch/false advertising.

  2. Gene says:

    I tried in vain to talk to someone about this throttling of
    bandwidth and all I got is the quote “sorry but there is nothing
    we can do about it” I have filed with the BBB and sent an
    inquiry to the FCC.

  3. Rich says:

    I just canceled my service yesterday after several days in a row of .25Mbps speedtests. What’s worse is that I was never exceeding 30k/sec throughput so I was getting slower speed than a 56k modem.

    The official Clear statement is a complete lie. I was being throttled18 hours a day. The only time I wasn’t throttled was between the hours of 3am-9am. I have also filed complaints with the BBB, FCC and also the FTC.

    When I canceled there was no attempt to keep me as a customer or try to make any kind of amends. They are the worst ISP I’ve ever had and there really needs to be a class action lawsuit put together. They are engaged in very deceptive business practices and I can’t wait until they file bankruptcy.

    • labtopia says:

      I have just found this to be the case over the past 4 mos and has gotten increasingly agressive to the .25 speed, after calling for months and months and spending time on the phone, i had been told there were tower maintenence preventing the speeds i normally get (which were generally 6-10mb) yesterday though now i was told that i am being throttled to preserve the integrity of the network. HA! i too am being throttled 18hrs a day with a narrow window of faster speed from 3am-7or9am.
      i too have the unlimited “no cap” plan which is why i signed up and bought the dang hardware. i will be cancelling the service once my 50mb comcast service is installed.
      this is definitely bad business and handled very poorly by the company whose network obviously cannot handle supporting their customer’s service contracts. wimax is a nice idea but if it cant be serviced as advertised, it will be dead dead dead.

      well one less customer as far as i’m concerned…

      dave

  4. Kevin says:

    Rich,
    Your story sounds just like mine. I’ve had this problem since January. I always thought it was just tower problems, but when someone suggested last week that the company was throttling customers, I started looking for answers.

    Their reps admitted to throttling, but didn’t. When I used that word, they said “we don’t do that.” They then explained how they “equalize” accounts in order to provide all customers with an enjoyable experience.

    So I called, asked if they could offer a credit for the ten months of times when speed problems were met with troubleshooting that served no real purpose, and they said no. So I asked to cancel my account at the end of the billing period, which was two weeks away. Before the phone call was over, I had already been disconnected.

    I’m not a big fan of lawsuits, but this has “Class Action” written all over it if you ask me.

  5. Tim says:

    Yea these guys are really asking for a lawsuit and I hope they get all they deserve.

    I would like ALL of these ISP’s to stop stating that they are selling ‘unlimited’ plans when it isn’t when you read the fine print. They need to make caps or any bandwidth throttling known before hand if you ask me.

  6. QubeStream says:

    I was capped at 25k….called to complain and the games began. I was finally told that I was flagged by their network team as being an abusive user and was capped at 25k. I was told that I would have to “earn the trust of the network team” before the cap would be released. After a promise that the cap was being removed…that cap was in fact never removed. I called to cancel my service and was told that I would have to pay a “restocking” fee of $40. I refused to accept the $40 fee and they refused to cancel the order. So I still have the service, although I am not using it. I just fired up the modem to check the speed and it seems that the 25k cap has been removed…..and replaced with a cap of exactly .57k. Every test shows 57k.

  7. Bill P. says:

    The service agreement and Terms Of Service are dismissed as just the usual stuff when you uses their own web site to pick the best service for you tool. http://www.clear.com/shop/quickshop . It also make the statement there are no DATA limits!!!!!!!

    Clear has over the last 72 hours archived all but 15 of the last post on a running link with a support person that had over 360 back and forth posts in a 6 day period about ‘throttling’ & acceptable use where your posted statement came fro. Which in effect removes any proof of the statements regarding data limits and the entire network managing software issue. Other posts are now being deleted and monitored

    http://forums.clear.com/clearcom/topics/questions_for_robl_re_throttling_acceptable_use?from_gsfn=true

    http://forums.clear.com/clearcom/topics/questions_for_robl_re_throttling_acceptable_use_pt2
    neither of these topics have had any recent company posts or responses at this time.

    Clear is no longer a part of GETSATISFIED limiting log in’s to current customers including those that didn’t want posts tagged to their accounts and used Twitter or Face Book. This allowed the shut out many the most knowable posters many of which are still clear customers.

    There is Clearly a massive attempt at damage control and coverup now in place.

  8. Ian L says:

    For what it’s worth, Clear uses wireless backhauls for man of their sites, which have finite amounts of bandwidth on older systems. Upgrades to these systems require a truck roll or two, so they can’t be completed quickly.

    All that said, slow internet isn’t fun for anyone, and Clear is handling this rather badly.

  9. cam says:

    Thank you for this post! i was going bananas trying to figure out what happened, and surely enough i tried the experiment and found 1.0mb after 1 am to 10:50 am and 20kb during the day im mad but im also glad i can still download after i finish my files im terminating services and if they give me attitude im sewing them to X)

  10. Dean says:

    Quote:

    “What’s worse is that I was never exceeding 30k/sec throughput so I was getting slower speed than a 56k modem.” The 30k you see is not the same math at the 56k you state. “30k” in the new high speed world is a reference to a 300kb speed, or 30k per second.

    Please get your numbers straight. A 56k modem sees about 3-5k per second, max. You’re getting 6 times that speed as a minimum, so that everyone can use the service at high traffic periods.

    You can’t have 1mb down connections all the time. Get realistic, please, before talk of lawsuits, etc.

    My verizon pulls 70k on average, slower at times, but FAR superior to what a dialup connection ever was.

    Signed,
    your neighborhood troll.

  11. William Higgins says:

    I used to be a CLEAR dealer in Atlanta and I am now getting totally out of the business because of this mess. One of the main reasons I loved CLEAR and the technology was the fact that CLEAR supported an Open Internet with no caps. It was part of the sales pitch. It is still part of the sales pitch.

    I have used CLEAR Home + Voice and Mobile for a year and a half. Since Atlanta was the second launch city we have had it almost the longest. I can tell you that I had almost no problem for that entire time except for the last 3 weeks. Ever since CLEAR implemented what they call NIMS. Not sure of the exact acronym but it is essentially a new network management system to equalize bandwidth across all users to keep the heavy users from taking it all.

    My sources inside CLEAR tell me that the day they implemented NIMS the tickets and issues were out of control. They did eventually go back and adjust the settings to be less restrictive. But overall there still seems to be all kinds of residual issues.

    Right now I seem to be able to get 4 – 6MB download but for the last 2 weeks my uploads never get better than 50k. I work from home and there I can’t even send an email with an attachment. So at this point I have decided to leave CLEAR totally and sign up for ATT U-Verse. In fact, ATT is coming out tomorrow to get me setup. I will not go back to COMCAST and I am not getting the TV service. I am just getting Internet and Voice.

    I still have contacts at CLEAR so if you have questions I will try to get more info as needed.

    William

  12. CM says:

    I cancelled Clear service after nearly three weeks of nonstop throttling – our speeds were down to 0.06mps pretty much the entire time on average. I did have to pay for the month that I was throttled, but I did worm my way out of the cancellation fee.

  13. Tyson Edwards says:

    News from a Clearwire Senior Business Case Management Representative – Tier 3:

    “The marketing materials in question state that we don’t throttle you if you use too much Bandwidth, the management system is in place based on Throughput.

    Specifically, Bandwidth refers to potential throughput over a given time.
    Throughput refers to the amount of traffic moved.

    As such, Clearwire can’t be said to be ‘lying’ as we do not at any point implement a throttle based on Bandwidth. We do have the capabilities under our Acceptable Use Pollicy to dynamically adjust your contracted Download Speeds for whatever terms we see fit to ensure fair access to our network for all users, regardless of class level.

    In your case, there is not a bandwidth limitation at your tower, as your speed tests to our internal servers showed that you were unaffected. This was obviously said in error by those who were uninformed about how the system operates.

    As such, you will not be able to move your equipment to another physical location to receive higher speeds until we decide that it is no longer fit to manage you.”

    Also of note, I received the Engineering Firmware Package that can be applied to any Motorola M-Series CPE, allowing for a user to disable NATing on their connection, amp the CPE or do a number of very useful things.

    If anyone has a need for this, feel free to let me know and I can forward it along.
    I have since cancelled Clearwire services.

    • Bill says:

      I have to love the choice of wording. What is this post really saying. Clear seams to be saying that if i watch too much Netflix this week or today between 6 and 10 PM my service will be cut back for some unknown periond of time regardless of actual traffic at my tower.

      “Bandwidth refers to potential throughput over a given time. Throughput refers to the amount of traffic moved.” Traffic would be data. In the marketing materials Clear states we do not limit data usage. It is CLEAR to me this is an admission that they do ly about the service provided!!

      • Tyson Edwards says:

        That is just the thing, I personally read over the materials, and they indeed do not make reference to limitation based on data.

        Q) Is data usage really unlimited? Are there any additional charges?
        A) Usage is unlimited – believe it. You can upload, download and surf as much as you want for one low price with any of the CLEAR internet plans. We don’t slow down your connection – the way some internet providers do – if we think that you are using too much bandwidth. CLEAR Internet is just fast no matter how much you use your internet – with no additional usage charges.

        So, to clarify, they say that:
        • Clearwire will not charge you for Traffic sent across their network, regardless of the amount.
        • Clearwire will not throttle you “the way some internet providers do”.
        • Clearwire will not manage you based on your “Bandwidth” utilization.

        The statement is obviously misleading, however they do not break their own rules.

        That doesn’t mean that I agree with their choice of wording, their interpretation of their marketing materials in conjunction with their Acceptable Use Policy, or the actions being taken against their subscribers.

        What I personally love about the conversation is the phrase:
        We do have the capabilities under our Acceptable Use Pollicy to dynamically adjust your contracted Download Speeds for whatever terms we see fit to ensure fair access to our network for all users, regardless of class level.

        Note the use of the phrase “dynamically adjust your contracted Download Speeds for whatever terms we see fit…”

        As they use the phrase “contracted”, Clearwire is admitting that they are acting in *breach of contract* when electing to manage their users’ connections.

    • Bill says:

      It is regreablr that we now live in a world of word soup! Clear is commiting fraud no mater how they play the word game!! Actual policies are in place that are in direct opposition to the public statemnets made at all levels of the company from the C.E.O. to the sales and support networks.

      • Tyson Edwards says:

        Except, in the pure legal sense of the word, Clearwire is “not” committing fraud. They are engaging in “deceptive business practices”, but that is not illegal and does not constitute fraud.

        If Clearwire stated “Under no circumstances will you ever be throttled”, than they would have engaged in fraud as there would be cause to show that they openly misled their subscribers for the purpose of gaining marketshare, and thereby money when they knew that they had no intention on delivering.

        Right now, they are using a carefully crafted loophole to let themselves off the hook for offering more than they could realistically deliver – or choose to deliver – to their subscribers.

        For what it is worth, their Business Class Service Level Agreement explicitly states:

        3. SERVICE; AVAILABILITY.
        a. The availability targets referenced below do not account for Scheduled Maintenance or Urgent Maintenance on the Clearwire network or events outside of Clearwire’s control, including, but not limited to, force majeure events or activities, operation, configuration or applications associated with Customer’s equipment. The service guarantees described below shall only apply to Professional class Services.

        g. This SLA expressly excludes and shall not cover (and Clearwire shall not be responsible or liable for) any excusable impacts arising from or related to availability, outages, speed performance or latency affected by: (i) Clearwire’s network or related systems maintenance; (ii) acts or omissions, or negligence, of or by Customer or any of its employees, contractors or agents; (iii) behavior, failure or interruption of Customer’s equipment, facilities or applications; (iv) widespread or systemic internet, World Wide Web, or other telecommunications network or utility grid failure or interruption; or (v) acts of God, war, civil disorder, natural cataclysm, terrorism, radio frequency interference or blockages, or other occurrences beyond the reasonable control of Clearwire.

        An important piece to be gleaned from those two sections is:
        Clearwire is not liable for any loss of service, either under it’s control or outside of it’s control.
        As such, while their SLA for Business Customers carries no weight, and no credit is required to be offered at any time in the event of an outage or reduced speed.

        • Jon says:

          So is this fraud?

          This is an excerpt from a recent chat:
          —-
          Jonathan: I’m wondering though, I do a alot of downloading from itunes, I watch a lot of HD netflix and Hulu. and dl some games. Will this effect my speed?
          Jonathan: probably just home unit,
          Jonathan: needed
          Bill A.: Not with our new home modem with wifi and the signal strength you should be getting. To make sure you could add our Clear spot 4g which also gives great wifi and can run up to 8 wifi devices at the same time–both are uncapped speed and unlimited use—$ 45 mth for one—bundled it is $ 60 mth for two
          Jonathan: I heard from my neighbor that you guys sometimes cap the modems to a slower speed after you download too much. Should I be worried that I might get capped?
          Jonathan: I mean sometimes I can down load 3 or maybe 10 gb in a day. Is that a probelm?
          Bill A.: 100% unlimited use—you can 24/7—-365—ALL YOU WANT——–NO RESTRICTIONS AT ALL–AS MUCH AS YOU WANT–ALL THE TIME
          Bill A.: We have two options for your modem. You can purchase your equipment up front or if you qualify, through a simple credit check, you can lease the modem on a 2 year agreement with Clear.
          Jonathan: wow I sure hope so. I searched google and there are a lot of users saying that you guys have some new system that is load balancing the speed down to 0.25mb/s. I sure hope that I don’t get flagged as a heavy user if I cancel my dsl Clear will be the only connection I have.
          Bill A.: Just need your name, phone # and date of birth to get rolling
          Jonathan: No speed restrictions?
          Jonathan: ever?
          Bill A.: Uncapped speed and unlimited use———speed yes–forever—–unlimited use? at least for the next 2 years–and probably longer as we want to beat At & t and Verizon
          Jonathan: So if I go and down load 10 gB today (supposing I had clear) you would not slow my modem down to 0.25mb/s like the stories out there?
          Bill A.: No way——
          Bill A.: We do not slow down anything–no way
          Jonathan: I want you to know that I have a clear spot that has been speed capped by your Network Infrastructure Management System. It is blacklisted and will only operate at 0.25mb/s.
          Jonathan: Clear is having you LIE to customers. How do you feel about that?
          Bill A.: I do not lie–I am 58 years old and I do not BS anyone—you have a 14 day trial–risk free–and refund if not happy—–Free shipping both ways—
          Bill A.: Yes, I have read all these blogs-and have plenty of happy customers across the country–I am no Pollyanna or House Man—
          Bill A.: That is what the trial period is all about—to see if I do speak the truth—-and I do

    • thomas stemmer says:

      i would greatly appreciate you sending me the program u mentioned for the motorla modem and any agvice u may have to get past nims,

      • Tyson Edwards says:

        Feel free to contact me at: absolutefog (at) gmail (dot) com and I would be happy to send it your way.

    • Roger says:

      This goes out to Tyson Edwards and i to would like to have the software u r talking about i know of a way to stop the cap but the way i want to do it would most likely get me banneded lol so just send the software to my email adress or send a link so i can download it

  14. Bill says:

    I am no legal expert but, Clear HAS “openly misled their subscribers for the purpose of gaining marketshare, and thereby money when they knew that they had no intention on delivering” at the time of offering the service. This would include investors and share holders by offering to suspend customer accounts for months while marketing the service to increase a reported customer base. While I am sure Clear has provided some legal cover there is a Clear intent to misrepresent the service, value of the company as well as it’s growth potential. I cannot help but believe that given the scope of the deceit a case for fraud could be made if all the facts are present.

  15. Tyson Edwards says:

    First off, I am not a Clear representative in any way.
    I was formerly one of their business customers.

    While I completely agree with you that “MORALLY” Clear has misled their customers, it would be a hard sell to show that they “LEGALLY” misled their customers with the intent to defraud them.

    While it is possible that they may have some damning e-mails sent between themselves showing the intent to explicitly sell their customers on an unlimited service with the sole intention of after-the-fact changes to the terms of the users’ agreements, it would be very difficult to get a hold of such documentation, even with a court order. Even then, Clearwire could state that the information includes proprietary information regarding the operation of their company, in turn preventing it from being made public.

    If you are really upset about the situation, go to the FCC and lodge a complaint. Clearwire is using Licensed Spectrum Space to run their business after all.

  16. bob says:

    The proper agency to file complaints for false advertising is
    Federal Trade Commission.

    https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/

  17. Amy says:

    I have filed a complaint with the FTC and the BBB, and I am currently looking to join a class action lawsuit against Clear for their deceptive advertising. I’m fed up. I was actually told today that I AM being throttled, and I will not tolerate this! I signed up because they said:

    Q) Is data usage really unlimited? Are there any additional charges?
    A) Usage is unlimited – believe it. You can upload, download and surf as much as you want for one low price with any of the CLEAR internet plans. We don’t slow down your connection – the way some internet providers do – if we think that you are using too much bandwidth. CLEAR Internet is just fast no matter how much you use your internet – with no additional usage charges.

  18. Jordan says:

    My speed dropped the day the probation period ended where if I decided to cancel I wouldn’t get charged a fee. In the store when I was considering purchasing the service they said my residence was right next to a tower…they even checked on the computer and said I would get a strong signal. My service was great for that first week too but like I said the day after I couldn’t terminate my service without being charged a cancellation fee my connection dropped to dial-up speeds.

  19. Gene says:

    I am finally rid of Clear, after over a month of jumping through the hoops, and speeds of .65Mbps download speed.
    They finally let me out of my contract without any fees and provided
    shipping labels to return the equipment, which I promptly did and kept
    copies of the delivery receipts. The last conversation I had with them, they
    said that this managing was here to stay but will get some settings
    changed as the system is updated but could take well into next year in
    my area for that to happen. Good luck to all. Keep at them. I’ll be
    watching and rooting for you.

  20. Ryan says:

    With all companies it’s important to read the Terms of Service and any updates or changes that you get and E-mail notice for. As near as I can tell the major change to the T.O.S wasn’t done in the best way for the customers and users. I would suspect that a regular notice of the T.O.S. update was done and it may not have caught everyones attention to the issues of bandwith limiting.

    I’m not sure when the grahic from the page was taken. It looks like the T.O.S. was effective on August 30th 2010 and included isses of bandwith limiting and how to terminate service with out having to pay restocking fees, etc.

    Link: http://www.clear.com/legal/terms

    Overall it shows how important cutomer relations are and the need for all companies to take an extra step when there is a huge change in the T.O.S.

  21. WiMIN says:

    I am now starting to think that my “BS SYNC LOSS” outages and bandwidth issues are completely known to CLEAR—if they are limiting my I / O, then no amount of troubleshooting matters.

    How do we join a class action suit? If ever a company deserved it, it’s CLEAR.

    Feel free also to join the new uncensored Google Group about CLEAR WiMAX (see http://groups.google.com/group/clear-wimax-uncensored).

  22. Herston says:

    False Advertising? Didn’t Bill Clinton pass a Law saying you couldn’t sue for False advertising anymore? Oh I believe he did, I still remember. Because, people were suing fast food places for false advertised Pics on the menu and people would order there burger and it didn’t look like the same burger on the menu picture..

    So the False Advertising will be thrown out people.

    • T says:

      I beg to differ. While individual citizens may or may not be able to sue for false advertising, the FTC most certainly CAN, and if enough people complain they WILL. In fact, the FTC just recently released a whole new set of rules regarding false advertising, so they certainly do take the issue seriously.

      I have filed my complaint with the FTC, and I hope everyone else who is being throttled will do the same!

  23. Mark says:

    As far as the legal aspects of what Clear is doing are concerned there is no doubt in my mind they are very much in jeopardy of standing on the wrong side of a class action. There is precedent in rulings in N.Y. where Verizon lost a very very similar case, with the exception Clear has gone beyond Verizon’s actions. What is important here is not so much the wording and its intrinsic meanings and interpretations but rather what the customer was reasonably expected to believe and what the provider was inherently trying to convey. If the word unlimited service or something like it is used in such a manner that the aim of the promotional materials was clearly intended to convey to the customer that the use of the service in normal activity was unlimited then the provider presented a reasonable expectation for a truly unlimited service. If the fine print of a service contract is so far removed from the spirit and intent of the promotional materials as to be considered clearly conflicting with the expectation presented in promotion the provider has demonstrated an intent to deceive the customer based on the obvious conflict. But that would be more criminal I think. In civil court I think it would take a few minutes to find for guilty. After all the jury is just like you and me. If they look at the ads and the print and look at the forum post of stunned and surprised customers its easy to say people really expected unlimited services.

    Here is a blog post about the Verizon case:

    New York State has given Verizon Wireless a million new reasons to understand that the word “unlimited” when used in advertising should mean what it means elsewhere in polite society.

    New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced yesterday that his office had beaten a $1 million “agreement” out of Verizon Wireless that will see the carrier compensate 13,000 customers it had summarily disconnected from their “unlimited” plans because they had taken the word to mean what it means.

    From a statement issued by Cuomo’s office:

    The settlement follows a nine-month investigation into the marketing of NationalAccess and BroadbandAccess plans for wireless access to the internet for laptop computer users. Attorney General’s investigation found that Verizon Wireless prominently marketed these plans as “Unlimited,” without disclosing that common usages such as downloading movies or playing games online were prohibited. The company also cut off heavy internet users for exceeding an undisclosed cap of usage per month. As a result, customers misled by the company’s claims, enrolled in its Unlimited plans, only to have their accounts abruptly terminated for excessive use, leaving them without internet services and unable to obtain refunds.

    A million bucks is essentially petty cash for a company this size – the public-relations beating will likely prove more costly – but the episode should nonetheless act as a deterrent for other carriers tempted to sprinkle their advertising with manure. At least that’s the theory.

    “This settlement sends a message to companies large and small answering the growing consumer demand for wireless services. When consumers are promised an ‘unlimited’ service, they do not expect the promise to be broken by hidden limitations,” said Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. “Consumers must be treated fairly and honestly. Delivering a product is simply not enough – the promises must be delivered as well.”

    As for Verizon’s take on the matter? Well, it’s priceless:

    “We are pleased to have cooperated with the New York Attorney General and to have voluntarily reached this agreement,” a company spokesman told Associated Press. “When this was brought to our attention, we understood that advertising for our NationalAccess and BroadbandAccess services could provide more clarity.”

    Corporate spokespeople earn good salaries to spout such nonsense, of course, but even by that standard we should take a moment to count up all the lies in this statement.

    1. Verizon is pleased by this outcome. … Bet they had a big office party.

    2. The settlement was voluntary. … Yes, in the time-honored way that criminals voluntarily confess after the cops show them the bloody glove (OK, this doesn’t always work, but still …).

    3. Verizon only understood the problem after it was brought to their attention. … He meant after it was brought to their attention 13,000 times and the subpoenas started to fly, so maybe I’m being harsh on that one.

    4. And the real whopper: What we’re talking about here is a lack of “clarity” in the advertising, nothing more. … You’d think a multibillion-dollar company could afford a dictionary.

    Here at Buzzblog we like to believe that we go out of our way to accept business-speak for what it is and to not immediately presume the worst about corporate intentions.

    Such latitude, however, is not unlimited.

  24. chad says:

    so i recently turned off my directv with the idea that netflix and hulu would suffice for my tv viewing. I am constantly connected to the internet and download quite a bit being that I am a dj for my fulltime career. . I have had clear for about 18 months and just this week i started getting download speeds of about 0.17mbps.. After I called clear and spent almost 2hrs talking to a rep to figure out why my speed was down when I had such a strong signal she informed I had been slowed down because I had downloaded nearly 70gbs.. at first I laughed cuz i thought that was insane cuz i had signed up for an unlimited plan.. well needless to say I went and signed up for fiber optic service today for a better price with faster speeds but have been informed by CLEAR that i will be subject to a $40 restock fee for the equipment and another $80 for early termination fees!!!
    I am currently writing this message at after midnight on my clear service (which i would assume is offpeak hours) and getting an amazing .20mbps down and .32mbps up (thats correct my upload speed is topping my download speeds!)
    I simply cannot wait to get off this service and will be quick to let people know how awful CLEAR really is!!
    Im still more than peeved they are charging me an etf and restocking fees because they changed their service and lied about what they are offering!

    • Scott says:

      Dont pay it. Fight it with a dispute through the better business bureau. At most it only takes a little time and 2-3 responses on their website laying out your dispute.

      You aren’t liable for companies that don’t honor the contract or services promised to you, if they’re enforcing early termination, and/or limits that weren’t disclosed that’s not what you agreed to or disclosed when signing up you shouldn’t pay for it.

      I’ve disputed charges like this and if you don’t let them take advantage of you, you will get your deserved credit.

  25. WiMIN says:

    A law firm is interested in exploring possible class action against CLEAR. But they need a plaintiff; they need a consumer who has been wronged and has documentation, etc.

    If you are interested in helping, we can put you in touch.

    More info at http://groups.google.com/group/clear-wimax-uncensored/browse_thread/thread/2c0596c978e3622f# .

  26. dwight says:

    Anytime you hear the words “up to” expect dial-up speeds most
    of the time.

    The comment I’ll make is that test sites such as speedtest.net
    don’t pickup on the throttling for the most part. They only detect
    speed caps. Hence, the ‘burst speeds’ (to coin a phrase) from these sites are 8 to 10 times higher than actual download speeds.

    Clearly if this is capitalism we are oh so aimed at becoming a third world country. It seems it doesn’t take much to buy our state house representatives.
    The best answer is what they oppose meaning publicly owned utilities like the extremely successful public electric districts.

    If it says ‘wireless’ it stinks and all claims are gross over “spin”, IMO.

    A pox on both political parties and all wireless companies………Trig

  27. l6 says:

    I have been with Clear for 6 months and it was OK for light gaming and internet use but now it is USELESS! I get throttled to .25 to .45 all times of day. I highly doubt this neighborhood has lots of Clear users — it is one of the wealthiest parts of the country, with a large elderly population, and they tend to use Comcast, Verizon, or other more traditional carriers…so it is not like there are 1000s of Clear internet users nearby hogging the tower bandwidth.

    I have called them multiple times, they just have you reset your modem — it is a bullshit charade.

    How come a maid service can’t promise to “clean your house” then show up whenever they want, using excuses like, “we’re working to have the staff to accommodate your needs, thanks for understanding?” They would be shut the f*** down.

    The telecomm giants are afforded graces and passes that no other businesses could get away with.

    Clear customer service just told me, “Stop watching movies for a few days then it might come back” after I said it happened during a Netflix video. I have the “unlimited” data plan — the throttling started on the FIRST — a NEW BILLING CYCLE…so what is the excuse? I would love to hear it.

    It is OK to throttle from time to time, but not down to absolutely intolerable levels that make dial-up look fast. You’re not throttling, you’re shutting off a huge part of your customer’s internet access.

    I can smell the class action lawsuit from here.

    Clear: you could have 1000s of people giving positive free advertising via word of mouth but instead you chose to handle things in this way. The only thing that travels faster than good publicity is bad publicity.

  28. Cybervang says:

    Thanks for warning me. I am cancelling my order tomorrow ASAP before it gets sent out. Yes I game, watch NETFLIX, 3 kids do it all on their own PC. I am for sure going to get THROTTLED I can guarantee you if according to all of your posts. You all seem legitimate because how can any of you waste time on here typing & whining if you were so FAST the 14 day trial period. I believe you are all telling the truth. Looks like you were fast and now throttled. Looks like they let you all enjoy the 14 day and now have the early cancellation in your face everytime you threaten to quit.

    Peace guys and thanks for this very helpful thread. I am going to stay with Qwest cause at least for now they are reliable and 6megs full time 24hrs a day no cap on my kids netflix and my wow playing. Been fast for 1 year now.

    I guess the old saying it’s too good to be true is right. How can we expect to get 6+ mb down and 1mb up on a portable wireless. Even if it was real why would they give it UNLIMITED. It cost too much in terms BANDWIDTH via TOWERS. peace.

  29. Darcy says:

    hi i have the same problem with clear and was spoken to with disrespect by the there tech supervisor and told if i do not like there service I should cancel it when i ask for a refund of my money he then said that wont happen even if im in the first two weeks of service and then again started getting belligerent with me and insisting almost demanding I cancel my service as well as admitting on the phone to me that I was being throttled. I told him i have more than one Pc on my network me and my wifes he said that i should cut hers out when she uses hers for business he said that his only suggestion for me to do with no definitive answer as to fixing the problem please I hope someone with the know how can sue the crap out of these thieves cause they are falsely advertising there services and being disrespectful when asked to fix it its time we exorcise out constitutional right to free press which the Network falls under and for violating there own eula agreement.
    signed an angry customer tht just wants a fare share

  30. Thomass says:

    I too was sucked into the allure of unlimited internet, and really wanted to believe there would
    not be a speed cap. I did read the AUP before I signed up, but their idea of excessive is rediculous. When I had cable internet it was not uncommon to download 300gb a month. I havehad the service 4 days now, and the 26gb’s of bandwith have triggered a horrible reduction in speed slower than dial-up! What gets me is on the account page they show a projected amount of 151gb which I wont be able to get now. I paid $139 to get this service because I couldn’t afford to pay a the $250 I owed my past provider. Roadrunner from time warner was always great service and I will be paying to have it back.

  31. Bob Williamson says:

    I am one of the throttled and was told by a service rep it would not change Unfortunately for me as a live aboard boater I really don’t have any other options. I would dearly love to see Clear brought to the bar in a class action suit for false and misleading advertising and for negligent substandard performance and service. Their idea is wonderful but their implementation is almost criminal.

  32. Pablo says:

    Well, I had been reading about Clear’s throttling of service for a while. I’ve been a Clear customer for exactly 6 months now and I am happy to say that after 30 minutes on the phone today I successfully canceled my Clear service (which was under a two year contract). I could not be happier and I was able to get out of any type of termination fee or restocking fee. I was constantly being throttled and could not stream Netflix on my new Apple TV 2nd Gen.

    While talking to the technical rep on the phone, I told him that we were not getting the unlimited service that we were promised. He told me that it meant:

    “Unlimited in the sense that you can use it whenever you want”

    When he said that I demanded to have the service canceled and he was happy to oblige (he seemed like he didn’t want to have to deal with my angry mood). He passed me on to the account department and the nice lady gladly canceled our service without any type of fees.

    I should note that for the past few days I have gone on Clear’s online chat with several reps to talk about the speed issues. The tech guy on the phone today brought up that I had already complained about the speed through the chat and that could possibly be a reason for why I had no fees to pay after canceling the crap service.

    I am one happy man, can not wait to switch back to AT&T U-Verse :-)

    • Yes, don’t you just love it when they redefine “unlimited” to mean you can use it anytime within a 24 hours window… for a limited amount of time.

      Overseas regulators don’t buy those weasel words and have fined ISPs for using them. We don’t regulate our providers, so they play these cynical bait and switch games on their customers.

      I have yet to hear of an ISP that shuts its service off at midnight, which is why consumers believe the word “unlimited” to mean exactly what it says — unlimited use.

      I’m not sure how Clear expects to preserve its reputation delivering this kind of service to customers. Unclear is more like it.

      It’s always nice to hear successful stories of customers fleeing across the Berlin Wall of early termination fees unscathed.

  33. John S. says:

    Just got off chat with a Clear Tech rep because the past few weeks after 7pm my speeds drop from 5Mbps to about 0.5Mbps. Here’s his response…

    Lisandro: I’m sorry that you’re seeing a slower connection than you are accustomed to specially on a particular time-frame. I assure you that our top priority is making sure that all of our customers have the best Internet experience possible, at all times. …to do that, during times of high network congestion we may equalize everyone’s ability to enjoy a high-quality internet experience.

    Gotta love that they think that 0.5Mps is “high-quality internet experience”.

    I’m looking forward to cancelling and going back to cable internet.

    • “Equalize” the experience = making everyone suffer from your poorly scaled network.

      If only the marketing material told customers up front that “blazing fast” was actually the speed of customers calling to cancel service.

      I have yet to find any wireless provider I would ever consider as a home broadband replacement. Sorry folks, wireless is just not going to cut it unless you use your connection for e-mail and web browsing only.

      • Dan says:

        Chat Transcript
        Hello Daniel . Please wait while we find a CLEAR specialist to help you.
        Your question is: http://stopthecap.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/throttle.jpg I pay $72 a month and get .25mps at peak – I’m going to sue you unless you uncap at least one of my devices – I will use one for Netflix and the other for business to avoid this issue in the future. This is false advertising and fraudulent based upon what I am reading. I watch movies on Netflix – unlimited ? Get ready to see me in court.
        All agents are currently busy. Please stand by.
        You have been connected to tt_Jacob John J.
        tt_Jacob John J: Daniel , thank you for chatting with Clear. So I can help, may I please have the 10 digit phone number on the account?
        Daniel : I could understand a 1.5mps cap but .25 ? REALLY???? This is fng BS and I’m will do what I can to make sure it is prominently disclosed in the future
        Daniel : 214-914-1114 dogs name was
        Daniel : Really I pay you SEVENTY TWO dollars a month and I GET .25mps WHAT A JOKE#
        tt_Jacob John J: i do apologize for the inconvenience
        tt_Jacob John J: let me see what i can do
        Daniel : OK thank you
        Daniel : I don’t mind one device being capped – I will use that one for entertainment – the other one I need to have not f’d up for work
        Daniel : cap the home modem and please uncap the other one and I will not stream netflix through that one (my hotspot)
        Daniel : I’m fairly certain you guys will have a class action headed your way if this is how things are going to be – there are lots of people out there just like me
        tt_Jacob John J: i do understand where your coming from and we are realy doing our best to service everyone at this point but since as you may know we cannot establish huge towers that could reach out to a wider range in a populated area due to communication towers being limitted to a certain height for air traffic safety, we do not have that many towers to accommodate a large number of users all at the same time
        tt_Jacob John J: i realy do apologize and rest assure we are always doing our best to serve the needs of all our customers
        Daniel : Then disclose it in your advertising – I’m OK with the TRUTH -then it is my choice
        Daniel : I’m not totally PO’d but getting close – I had no idea the choke was set that low – that is terrible
        tt_Jacob John J: we appreciate your patronage and rest assure we will do our best to further improve our service in the future
        Daniel : Sounds like you are over subscribed (which is about the same thing as over selling an oil well which is done at times in my line of work)
        tt_Jacob John J: basically yes but the more our company grows the more towers we build and the greater our range and service will be
        Daniel : I’m pretty sure it will not go well for Clear if anyone digs into your actual capabilities and what you have sold to the unsuspecting public
        Daniel : OK well let me know if I can help put one up LOL
        Daniel : I know it’s not your fault – this is my only way to PROTEST – STOP THE MADNESS !!!! UNCAP my hotspot and I promise to not use it to stream movies — I’m sorry please stop punishing me –
        tt_Jacob John J: on behalf of clear, we thank you for you diligence and in bringing this issue to our attention, I will make sure to put this on our records and hopefully we’ll be able to provide the best service in the future
        Daniel : really and truly I have two devices and will change my usage pattern if I know it will help – are they linked or metered separately
        tt_Jacob John J: yes, usually one device is considered apart from the other
        Daniel : Is it adjusted monthly ?
        Daniel : they are both sucking right now -equally
        tt_Jacob John J: yes, basicaly it depends on the availability of the tower
        Daniel : I get 6-8mps at about 4am
        tt_Jacob John J: that is correct
        Daniel : I see – well have fun with your job – it must be a beating :) Have a nice weekend – I feel much better now that I have used my new counseling service ( This is my response – you guys get to chat with me all the time now !)
        Daniel : I’ll quit taking up your time now :) bye
        tt_Jacob John J: well thank you and we appreciate you chatting with us although i cant assure you that other representatives may have a more or less different approach
        Daniel : they should let you train them – you are good !
        tt_Jacob John J: is there anything else i can help you with?
        Daniel : can I borrow $72 haha – no that will be it for tonight

  34. Tunde says:

    I called Clear to cancel after my contract was up because my speeds had become permanently ridiculously slow. They wanted to charge me $40 for cancellation even though I called 3 days before my contract would expire. After I threatened to sue, they just cut me off for the remaining three days even though I had paid for it. Worst company ever! I will be happy to join a class action suit if anyone would like to bring one.

  35. Mac says:

    I’ve definitely seen some slow bandwidth, but I live in an area where there isn’t a huge user base yet.

    I can watch netflix, but i have to pause it immediately, and let it buffer up a good bit before watching it.

    Hulu stutters some…definitely, but not terribly, but I haven’t done much torrenting since
    switching to Clear alone.

    I just hope I don’t have to bring my Cable back. I’m saving $86.00 a month by not having it.

  36. Jesse says:

    I have noticed that the past 5 days, after having Clear for over a month, have been terribly slow. Calls to the customer service line had informed me that they were having power outages that day. Today (and for the past 3 days) i have noticed incredibly slow speeds. IE. .40Mbps down 1.50Mbps up, yes, my upspeed is over triple my downlink. I contacted the online chat service to try to figure this out and they explained to me that i needed to call their number to have a “specialist” look into why i was having an issue. I called into the Clear number, and they explained to me that “I have a Level 3 Data Management Cap” put onto my account for being an “Abusive network user.” Now that definately threw me for a loop as THE ONLY thing I do with my internet at home is watch netflix and play COD on PS3. I said when does the data cap initiate? He explained to me that, that information is confidential and is not availble to customers (yes, can you believe this>?) After being frustrated beyond belief, I hung up.

    I had searched (After clear telling me that i should have unlimited service) about throttling and came across this site. I then called back and asked the customer service rep (who I informed that I was recording the call) if they issue any type of data cap, data management, or throttling to their customers throughput. She explained that Clear does NOT do that like “the other guys” and we would NEVER do that to “our customers” I then explained to her that I was told not 10 minutes prior that I was being throttled, and thats when she started asking for specific, VERY specific information, that no one at clear should EVER ask. IE, my SSN, etc.. She then changes her story after I explain that, that information is NOT privy to her eyes.. She tells me that i am infact being throttled, which just made the whole thing totally spin me around.. They tell me that they would NEVER throttle their customers, 30 sceonds later, they are throttling me? Interesting.

    One guy actually OFFERED to let me out of the contract, which I am still scratching my head on, however, I would like to know what you guys are planning or coming up with and wouldn’t mind staying in the loop as Clear internet, unfortunately is my only option at this point due to where I live.

    Thanks

    J
    [email protected]

  37. Jesse says:

    Post to allow me to see replies to this

  38. ICYNDICEY says:

    This company sucks dick!

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