The latest offering from Clearwire Corporation is a prepaid, 4G mobile hotspot service and pair of devices targeting 18-to-24-year-old city dwellers.
Clearwire’s new “Rover” branded 4G broadband service is priced at $5/day, $20/week or $50/month (unlimited usage). The “Rover” brand that connects to the Clearwire 4G network joins other brands that include CLEAR, Sprint 4G, Comcast High-Speed 2Go, Time Warner Cable Roadrunner 4G, Best Buy Connect and Cbeyond.
The disk-shaped “Rover Puck” hotspot device, powered by the carrier’s Rover service, can connect as many as eight Wi-Fi enabled devices, and it’s available in all of Clearwire’s 49 4G markets across the United States at www.rover.com. Rover devices and airtime also can be purchased at Clearwire retail stores, Best Buy outlets, and select independent wireless dealers in Houston and St. Louis.
Mike Sievert, chief commercial officer for Clearwire, said the target demographic for Rover leads a mobile lifestyle and wants to avoid monthly bills.
"Attitudes to pay-as-you-go products are changing," he said. "The prepaid segment is no longer limited to the credit challenged; also, pay-as-you-go offers us a lower cost to attract the customer."
The Rover Puck portable Wi-Fi hotspot, which sells for $149.99, is small enough to slip into a purse or backpack, and it serves as an on-the-go broadband access point for such devices as laptops, netbooks, the iPad, the iPod touch, smartphones and game consoles. It features mobile download speeds of between 3 Mbps and 6 Mbps, using Clearwire’s 4G network.
As an alternative option to the Rover Puck, Clearwire is offering the Rover Stick – a personal 4G USB modem that connects any notebook, laptop or desktop to the Rover 4G Service. The Rover Stick is compatible with MacBook and MacBook Pro laptops using Mac OS X as well as netbooks and notebooks running Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7. Offering the same Internet speed as the Rover Puck, the Rover Stick is available today for $99.99.
According to Sievert, although Clearwire’s 3G and 4G wireless services are available as prepaid offerings, more than 80 percent of its customers are on some kind of contract. However, the needs of young urbanites are a unique market segment, he added.
And Clearwire actually is encouraging users to share the Rover Puck.
"They can go out and about with their friends. Right after college, they’re going to be sharing apartments," said Seth Cummings, Rover’s general manager. “They can share their Internet connection."