Clearwire explains new 4G throttling

Policies still under review

Clearwire has finally explained the system that manages data on its 4G network, following criticism from customers complaining of throttling. Representative Rob Lenderman has reminded customers that usage data is processed using several algorithms, rather than focusing on certain content or placing a specific cap on monthly data use.

The system is said to be based on current utilization for each tower, while many low-use towers are completely omitted from the program. For high-use towers, throttling will only occur during peak-use times.

A customer's maximum speed is based on the GBs of data transferred in the past seven days and the download speeds for the past 15 minutes. Speeds are recalculated every 15 minutes, at which point a throttled customer will be bumped up to a higher speed. Rather than implementing one speed for throttling, the calculations will move customers between 48 different speed brackets.

"The reality is that a very small percentage of users are being set at very low D/L speeds for hours at a time," said Lenderman. "Our data shows that running a torrent is one of the reasons that people start to experience slower speeds."

Customers have criticized the company for its lack of disclosure regarding the mysterious throttling system that controls the "unlimited" 4G network. An explanation of the algorithms is unlikely to completely quell the unrest, however, as customers still lack specific information surrounding the weekly GB limits before throttling.

Many complaints have focused on the throttle speed, which is said to fall as low as 0.25MB/s in some instances. Lenderman suggests the company is still reviewing its speed policies to ensure usability when watching streaming videos or browsing the web if a connection is throttled. Without using concrete numbers, he suggests users may be throttled to a speed that requires buffering after watching one Netflix movie each night and browsing the Internet for a few hours each day during a week. "This limit is one thing we are evaluating changing."

Aside from the potential policy changes surrounding the throttle speed, the company is also working to upgrade many high-use towers to accommodate heavy traffic. Clear's website will eventually show upgrade information and performance data for each tower.

  1. Telekinesis 10/06, 01:10am

    They should change their name to Muddywire because it seems they are anything but Clear.

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