The 4G wireless Internet service provider Clearwire is now the focus of a lawsuit alleging that the company inaccurately portrayed their coverage area in order to deceive customers into buying the service.
Email evidence submitted with the suit seems to show that Gabe Suarez, the Director of Engineering at Clearwire, instructed employees to watch for connection issues after changes were made to the coverage map. The email states that the coverage area was expanded by one mile in order to allow more users to sign up for the service.
Further evidence comes from Donald Hammond, a Clearwire regional manager, who says that the company increased its covrerage area knowing that the WiMAX service would not work well in those areas. He says the plan, called (strangely) “Project Star Trek,” came directly from high-up managers and increased the apparent size of Clearwire’s coverage by 280%.
Even more diabolical, the company seems to not have made its money off of signing up new customers. Instead, Clearwire allegedly collected huge amounts of early cancellation fees from users unhappy with their service in fringe coverage areas.
Misrepresenting the area of coverage might explain an existing lawsuit against Clearwire, that charged the ISP with not providing connection speeds as advertised. Clearwire claimed that they could provide customers with a minimum 1Mbs wireless connection, while many users reported a connection speed closer to 256 Kbps. Additionally, users are claiming that Clearwire not only practiced bandwidth throttling, but did not explain to users what activities would cause an account to have its bandwidth restricted.
If any of these suits find Clearwire in the wrong, it could prove a fatal blow to the already beleaguered company, which has been steadily losing money. Though it will be unfortunate to see the death of a wireless internet service in the country, one less predatory ISP can’t possibly be a bad thing.
(via Ars Technica)
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