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  • Few questions: New to Clear

    I have recently purchased a WIXB-175 with the "Premium" plan and have been trying to do some research on the in and outs of Clear.

    First lets get the boring shit out of the way. A little background on me and my current situation. I have an absolute zero tolerance for outages or anything less than at least 6Mbps consistently. I had TW with a 25Mbps connection for 5 years, but moving into a new house put an end to that. Where I am currently the only copper/fiber available is AT&T 6Mbps. I left them because of throttling/capping and outages which I why I looked into Clear. I have come across a myriad of responses in regard to Clear service or really the lack thereof. Most of the negatives I chalk up to uninformed individuals quick to down an ISP. I do, however have some concerns of my own as well as looking for INFORMED reports of continued Clear service.

    First, obviously, is data capping. I read everywhere the Clear is completely un-capped. I am what I consider an extreme user where it honestly isn't hard for me to blast 100GB a month on average. Is it true that they will not cap you no matter what? I've read a few post of "red flagged" modems where if you pull a certain amount of bandwidth over a certain period of time they will cap you to unusable speeds. Looking for a little insight on this.

    This is where I start to get fairly worried, and start to realize I should have done my research before the purchase. Oh well..

    The signal inside my house is far less than pleasing. The closest tower is ~5500ft away from my dwelling in a nLOS setting. It would be LOS if it weren't for all the vegetation. No buildings, just trees. In the best spot I, on average, get inside is around -89 to -81 RSSI and 9 to 11 CINR. Outside on the roof, I can get -73 to -65 RSSI and 17 to 20 CINR. I have yet to receive my modem and am testing on my Centrino 6250 notebook. Hopefully the modem is a little more sensitive. Regardless I plan on purchasing an outdoor antenna since, from what I read, my outdoor signal is decent/quite good. This is where the majority of my questions come from.

    Grid vs. Panel. I see that the highest(not necessarily best I realize) gain is going to be from a grid antenna. I also read that this type has some significant drawbacks for someone in a nLOS setting. Also that the front to back ratio is not as high as a panel. From what I understand, front to back ratio is basically how much signal behind the antenna is lost. I don't know how much that matters in my situation since there is one tower ~5500ft due east and one ~8000ft due north.

    Type of cable used. I see mostly on this site that anything other than LMR-400 is frowned upon. This I don't quite understand. What I do understand is that LMR-400 is specifically built for wireless high frequency applications. I also understand that as freq. goes up so does signal degradation over span. I know that RG-6 is swept to 3Ghz. I also understand that while it may be swept that high, its performance at the frequency my not be ideal. I also understand the resistance difference between the two. Im looking at maybe at most a 40ft span on the extreme, most likely 25-30 ft. I know it is possible to get successful real world results while using RG-6 instead if LMR-400. I also know that there are zero upsides to using RG-6 aside from price and maybe flexibility. My questions are that given my situation, is it going to be necessary to use the much higher priced LMR-400? I understand the e-diaging something is near impossible, just looking for some recommendations. My main concerns lie with the resistance difference as this may cause my equipment damage, correct?

    Im mainly looking for average results here, as I know that determining ones actual results without a site survey is impossible. What do you guys see on average between Grid vs Panel, LMR-400 vs RG-6 or the like? Recommendations on setup given my metrics? Advice?

    Thanks in advance for reading my novel. Appreciate any advice/recommendations.

  • #2
    First, obviously, is data capping. I read everywhere the Clear is completely un-capped. I am what I consider an extreme user where it honestly isn't hard for me to blast 100GB a month on average. Is it true that they will not cap you no matter what? I've read a few post of "red flagged" modems where if you pull a certain amount of bandwidth over a certain period of time they will cap you to unusable speeds. Looking for a little insight on this.
    To the best of my knowledge - and this is my personal opinion - this is truly uncapped. I say this is my opinion because we really don't deal with the service side of things. We help many people trying to improve their signal many of whom, just like you, are replacing a traditional copper carrier and crave maximum throughputs. While some people have reported mysterious drops in throughput after months of usage, I have not seen a correlation of these drops with usage levels (and many times this is usually attributable to tower/network changes affecting all users in that cell.

    The signal inside my house is far less than pleasing. The closest tower is ~5500ft away from my dwelling in a nLOS setting. It would be LOS if it weren't for all the vegetation. No buildings, just trees. In the best spot I, on average, get inside is around -89 to -81 RSSI and 9 to 11 CINR. Outside on the roof, I can get -73 to -65 RSSI and 17 to 20 CINR. Hopefully the modem is a little more sensitive. Regardless I plan on purchasing an outdoor antenna since, from what I read, my outdoor signal is decent/quite good.
    Exactly. If you can live with your outdoor signal then we can pretty much get this outdoor signal indoors with minimal attenuation and at a worst case this would be where your modem would be performing at after installing the antenna. This is especially true if you have tested it exactly where you will mount the antenna and especially if you keep your cable run to <50ft or so. Not seen much receiver sensitivity differences between the different devices other than just form factor influences mainly from internal antenna placement.

    Grid vs. Panel. I see that the highest(not necessarily best I realize) gain is going to be from a grid antenna. I also read that this type has some significant drawbacks for someone in a nLOS setting. Also that the front to back ratio is not as high as a panel. From what I understand, front to back ratio is basically how much signal behind the antenna is lost. I don't know how much that matters in my situation since there is one tower ~5500ft due east and one ~8000ft due north.
    You pretty much hit on the main points. Panel is by far more popular than the grid and works the best in most situations we have encountered - and we have encountered many different scenarios. From the last point above, the grid might start to make sense if you have an extremely long cable run to where you need to start worrying about signal attenuation (so the extra antenna gain makes up for cable losses). One problem with the grid is that it's a wideband antenna so it doesn't reject 2.4GHz signals which, although they fall out of band of wimax's 2.5-2.7Ghz, might cause problems if you have very strong Wifi signals around (receiver desensitization, subchannel leakage power into the wimax band etc). This is also the problem of a poor F2B ratio or wider beamwidth -- you want the beamwidth wide enough to pick up a strong signal from the angle of arrival but no more (so you can reject all other interfering signals). The panel is also easier to handle and in my opinion more visually appealing (oh and cheaper too!)

    Type of cable used. I see mostly on this site that anything other than LMR-400 is frowned upon. This I don't quite understand. What I do understand is that LMR-400 is specifically built for wireless high frequency applications. I also understand that as freq. goes up so does signal degradation over span. I know that RG-6 is swept to 3Ghz. I also understand that while it may be swept that high, its performance at the frequency my not be ideal. I also understand the resistance difference between the two. Im looking at maybe at most a 40ft span on the extreme, most likely 25-30 ft. I know it is possible to get successful real world results while using RG-6 instead if LMR-400. I also know that there are zero upsides to using RG-6 aside from price and maybe flexibility. My questions are that given my situation, is it going to be necessary to use the much higher priced LMR-400?
    This one is actually quite straightforward - LMR-400 cable has an attenuation of 6.9dB/100ft at 2.6GHz so a 40ft run attenuated the signal 2.8dB; RG-6 has an attenuation of 16.3dB/100ft so a 40ft run will lead to a 6.5dB loss!!! This is HUGE if you recall that dB is a logarithmic scale i.e. 10xlog(Power_in/Power_out). So a 3dB loss is a half power loss (6.5dB loss means you are losing over 75% of the signal the antenna captures right in the cable itself before it gets to the modem). You are right about the price difference and the flexibility of the cable.

    I understand the e-diaging something is near impossible, just looking for some recommendations. My main concerns lie with the resistance difference as this may cause my equipment damage, correct?
    At RF frequencies (and 2.5GHz is really in fact microwave frequencies) resistance is not really the main concern but rather the impedance. If you get cable with 50-ohm characteristic impedance then this should be fine (just about all wireless radio modems these days have 50ohm input/output impedance). If you got CATV 75ohm cable then you would need to account for impedance-mismatch losses on top of the cable attenuation loss and the connector insertion losses. What will damage your equipment (and perhaps even do worse) is if you failed to install/ground a lightning protector (critical especially if you will mount this antenna high on your roof away from other potential lightning arrestors and run a good conductor of electricity into your house to your modem )

    Im mainly looking for average results here, as I know that determining ones actual results without a site survey is impossible. What do you guys see on average between Grid vs Panel, LMR-400 vs RG-6 or the like? Recommendations on setup given my metrics? Advice?
    Again this is correct -- because of the very dynamic nature of the wireless channel it is extremely difficult if not impossible to predict specific users results. However panel is empirically by far better performing than the grid (although the grid does work too in certain cases as explained above) and definitely LMR400 before RG-6 (I'd even go with LMR-300 if you want to save a few bucks and get a little more flex before going with RG-6 at this frequency band).
    Last edited by thuor; 05-01-2012, 03:57 PM.
    KF7RCQ

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    • #3
      Thank you for your reply. It is very much appriciated.

      I was excited to come home yesterday to find my modem delivered. However, it is not the WIXB-175 in which I ordered. Clear shipped me a refurb CPE 25725. This I am not particularly thrilled about. From what I read the WIXB-175 has the newer updated SOC from Beceem. Also the pigtail costs nearly 3 times as much for the 25725. On a good note, as I suspected, the modem is far better at picking up signal than my notebook. In the same location inside my house I am getting ~ -80 RSSI and ~ 15 CINR.

      I have decided to go with the RFW-PA2518B01 and LMR cable for my setup. However, this brings a question.

      Would it be worth my time to contact Clear and try and get them to send me a WIXB-175 seeing as how the SOC is newer and the pigtail is cheaper? With my antenna setup, is the 175 going to prove "faster," and or more reliable? Is the software better? Meaning more options to forward ports, diagnostic data?

      Again, just looking for average, real world experiences. Thanks in advance.

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      • #4
        We really haven't compared these side-by-side in a true benchmark analysis so can't with confidence which works better. The CPEi 725 does claim to have a receiver sensitivity that is 5dB better than spec requirements at all modulation modes if that's anything to go by.

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