Clearwire Sued Over Poor Network Performance

Ryan Whitwam

WiMAX network operator Clearwire is facing the legal ire of customers upset over what they deem deceptive practices. At issue is the company's throttling practices that leave users without the bandwidth they paid for. Many are also assessed an early termination fee when they try to leave. The customers have a compelling case, and Clearwire's response has thus far been lacking.

The 15 customers in the lawsuit claim that they have seen significant throttling of their home internet connections since mid-2010. Some users report their speeds dropped as low as 256Kbps. Some were told they were over their bandwidth caps, but others were fed a line about network congestion. They accuse Clearwire of running a sort of "Ponzi scheme" in which they advertize speeds they cannot deliver in hopes of attracting more customers. They would then have the resources to improve the network for some users, before they have to turn around and do the whole thing again.

Clearwire spokespeople did confirm that the company uses throttling to alleviate network congestion, but said all customers are treated equally. Details on what triggers these network slowdowns, or how long they last were not given. Clearwire has been fairly upfront about their cash flow issues, so this lawsuit is probably coming at the worst time. No word on how this may affect Sprint's WiMAX partnership with Clearwire.

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