Well, nothing like a silly headline to get your attention, eh? In the latest of our wireless testing series that has already made stops in Silicon Valley and Las Vegas we now turn our attention to the greater Chicagoland area where Clearwire’s WiMAX wireless broadband service has been commercially available for almost a year now.
No fun pictures to accompany this report — we were in Chicago this past weekend for a 30-year high school reunion and all the fun such events entail. But that didn’t stop us from doing a quickie WiMAX vs. Wi-Fi speed test in the northern suburb of Highland Park, where Clearwire has been busy adding towers including one right smack in the middle of downtown. Perhaps that’s why our parking-lot test of Clearwire’s service (even via the Clear Spot 4G+) was as hot as a big, deep-dish Chicago pie right outta the oven:
HIGHLAND PARK DOWNTOWN CLEARWIRE WIMAX CLEAR SPOT 4G+ TEST
And yes since we were parked right outside the front window of the downtown H.P. Starbucks outlet, we could glom onto the coffee shop’s AT&T-provided Wi-Fi signal (which was free, unlike the paid WiMAX service) and here is what we got:
HIGHLAND PARK DOWNTOWN AT&T/STARBUCKS WI-FI TEST
What are our conclusions? That Clearwire has been busy adding towers in the Chicago ‘burbs, something we can tell because we watch the company’s coverage maps from time to time and a lot of the northern suburban area is getting dark-greener on the Clearwire maps courtesy of the additional network rollouts. And if you want to pay for the extra speed and mobility the Clearwire service gives you, it will serve you faster than the Starbucks Wi-Fi. If you are just looking for a free way to connect while sipping that latte, the Starbucks/AT&T link may be all you need.
But… if you find yourself at O’Hare airport near the Starbucks island around Gate C 39, you may (like we were) be unable to find any AT&T service… so then the Clearwire WiMAX can come in pretty handy for those who need speed:
O’HARE AIRPORT GATE C39 CLEARWIRE CLEAR SPOT 4G+ WIMAX TEST
And thanks to the props from our pal Andy Abramson who may soon be able to “officially” run on the Clearwire/Sprint 4G network here in San Francisco which some of us have noticed to be working quite well already. Attention, CTIA attendees!