Notes on Clearmodem 4G Home Internet

Right now am trying out the Clear Hub Express modem from CLEAR 4G Internet provider. I had a cable modem, but they increased prices far too much - funny how cable companies like to charge long-time existing customers a lot, and provide deep discounts to new customers!

CLEAR 4G has good prices - and very bad reviews on the web, including an ongoing class-action suit related to cutting off service for heavy usage even though they claim "unlimited data and no overage fees". My hope is that they are improving on this front now and are therefore worth a try. End result - mixed feelings about them. Mainly because their software is deficient and has bugs so it requires contacting customer support and that quality continues to be abysmal. Cable modem devices have much better software quality compared to CLEAR devices.

The report below is based on the 1.5Mbps download plan for $35/month as of March 2013. They prefer to have people buy the $50/month plan with 6Mbps service but the lower plan is good enough for most uses, including HQ level YouTube videos. If you want to watch 720p or higher HD resolutions, then something greater than 2Mbps is necessary. And at $50/month cost, it is not competitive with Cable Modems which usually offer $60/month plans for 20Mbps or higher. The YouTube wikipedia page has a table showing rates of different video resolutions.

  • The Hub Express is a router with Wi-Fi and two wired ports. It seems to work fine in my area, and has stayed up for a whole week now without problems. I don't use it all day, but do use it a lot in the evening and some weekends. It seems to hold on to the 4G signal pretty well.
  • I normally use a second router in the system for the devices in my home so I can stick with the static and dynamic addresses the way I want them, and just use the cable or 4G clearmode for WAN access. This is not a good idea with the clearmodem. The Hub Express does not have a bridge mode, and secondly, it seems wasteful to run two routers. They do have IP Passthrough which can be used to send all communication to the second router, but that still involves double-NAT traversal, which worked fine with most of my computers and phones but it failed to work on a Nook Color (with Cyanogen Mod 7 Android on it) - it had very slow internet access and could not download large pages or web videos at all. Best to use the clearmodem standalone, or with a switch (not a router) as the second device if you need more wired ports.
  • The clearmodem page allows changing the default clearmodem address from So it can be changed to for example. But they have a bug - the configuration page does not allow for 0 to be entered in the DHCP Lease Reservation section. If you enter in there for example, as soon as you enter 0 in the third field and move to the last field, it will pop-up a nonsensical error "Please specify 0 in the field" even though you did type 0 in that field!
  • Given that Port Forwarding accepted IP addresses with 0 in it but DHCP Lease Reservation rejected it, it was clear that it must be some Javascript UI bug. So I tried to find if they accepted bug reports from customers. Answer is no - they refuse to create bugs based on customer reports. I called up and then spent a good 10 minutes trying to get the first level tech to understand this issue (he was clueless about Leases) and finally he agreed to escalate the issue. The second level tech did know about this feature, but said it was a "firmware" issue! I tried to explain it was a UI validation issue at this stage, and asked him to at least check if an existing bug existed and if not, to enter a new one. He said he could not do that, and had no access to bug database! Wow! Customer support that is not tied to development - recipe for poor quality is apparent here. So he could not provide a timeline for when this would be fixed.
  • I was curious now to examine the code. So taking a look at the Web frame page source, the bug seemed obvious and the fix was trivial too. Yet this company has not fixed this problem, a problem that the tech support says has been reported by many customers. The code is matching the DHCP leases to the actual subnet, but incorrectly validating the field. It is calling CheckPostitiveNum function instead of CheckNum. And hence the nonsense message - enter 0 and it says "please enter 0 in this field". This shows that the support level at CLEAR is very poor - far worse than even cable service providers. Would be nice if they had a online technical forum and a way for customers to report issues and enter bugs.
  • Port forwarding capability is there, but not good enough. It allows forwarding a WAN port number to an LAN IP address at the same port number. No way to specify a different port number on the LAN IP side of things. It is also not possible to test the port forwarding from inside the network. With Cable Modem service, I could connect to external address and port from inside, and have it work just as it would from outside the network. But with clearmodem, the port forwarding only works from outside the network. Not a big deal, but would be nice if it did not filter network data to prevent this type of testing.
  • As for amount of data, my usage ended up being around 5Gbytes for one week. I have no idea if this is low, normal, or above average use as far as CLEAR is concerned. They have not turned my speed down so will continue to watch what happens here.
  • I do get the reported 1.5Mbps download and 0.5Mbps upload speeds at the few times I checked. Get this on my Windows and Linux computers, as well as Android phones. Used the web site and phone app for speed tests.
  • There are no contracts to sign for Clear 4G, which is why it makes it easy to try it out. They do charge $50 for the Hub Express so if you cancel after a month or two, you're out that amount. But even with that, probably cheaper than a cable modem service call anyway.
  • After a few months, I upgraded to the 6Mbps plan, with a 40G monthly limit, for $40/month. I also bought the Google Chromecast dongle to connect to a HDTV. Setup did not work at first - Chromecast complained that "you will need to disable AP (access point) isolation, also known as client isolation, on your router." There is no such setting in the Clearmodem config. And a web search on this topic showed that Comcast cable customers had the same problem, and it required them to call in Comcast Tech support and spend hours as well as fork over fees to get the setting changed. There was no way the mediocre Clearmodem support team going to help with this - but luckily, turned out the Chromecast message was wrong. The actual problem was that UPnP was turned off on the Clearmodem. Turning that on allowed my Android phone to setup the Chromecast on the TV.

So overall, it is working at a good enough level for me to continue to keep the service going for now. Just hope I never have to get any customer support for them in the future.