A representative for Clearwire confirmed to PhoneNews.com today that inactive CLEAR iSpot 4G modems are, as of now, glorified bricks. They cannot be reactivated on any Clearwire service, nor can they be converted to standard Clear Spot devices.
This follows on our reporting, early this morning, that Clear iSpot devices on suspended monthly service plans have until February 10 to reactivate service, or face their devices being similarly bricked.
In Clearwire’s defense, the company does rightly note that the iSpot is an antiquated WiMAX modem. More modern devices like the Clear Spot Apollo provide superior reception, and faster connection speeds.
Clearwire also affirmed that users who maintain active service accounts can continue to use their groundbreaking, $25 per month unlimited WiMAX data plans. However, as Clearwire has cautioned previously, they cannot support future iOS devices (or even current models) due to Apple’s attempts to thwart the iOS-device-only plans. As we covered in our previous report, Clear iSpot faced several market issues, largely interference from Apple, that prevented iSpot from working with current and newer Apple iOS devices, without forcing Clearwire to offer Internet to unplanned devices such as MacBooks and iMacs.
However, it is rare for a wireless provider to completely deactivate devices, rendering them useless, before a network technology becomes obsolete. Clear iSpots, as the Clear Spot models they are based off of, are Mobile WiMAX Wave 1-compliant devices. Despite being inferior to newer WiMAX modems, the devices are fully-functional, and capable of providing Internet service with Clearwire’s network today.
It appears, though Clearwire did not elaborate, that they are simply trying to close the door on the failed iSpot devices. With rooting and other exploits readily available, Clear iSpots have been sold for hefty premiums on sites like eBay. PhoneNews.com has seen iSpot units sell for between two and four times the original no-contract price-point of the device. The reason is simple; a rooted iSpot can access Clearwire’s WiMAX network at half the standard price-point for unlimited mobile 4G data.
The iSpot wind-down also points to another failure of WiMAX as a technology, to usher in a future of unlocked device compatibility. Both Sprint and Clearwire, the two major WiMAX providers in the United States today, touted that their WiMAX networks would support activation of foreign WiMAX devices. However, neither Sprint nor Clearwire permit activation of each-other’s devices, despite running on compatible networks.