20 July 2007

iPhone vs ClearWire?

I was recently at a conference where ClearWire was trying to sell their WiFi service. There were a number of networks throughout the facility, thoughtfully protected via WEP key (weak encryption, but better than nothing). I was able to select them with my iPhone and type the password. The iPhone would accept it, but never switch from EDGE to WiFi. But Settings clearly showed that the ClearWire network was current. At least one other person had the same problem, with the exact same symptoms. And this happened on each of the networks.

The ClearWire representative couldn’t explain it or get it to work. He finally set up an unprotected network, and that did work. (And was acceptable for my use, since I use SSL for the e-mail accounts I check from my iPhone.)

My MacBook Pro had absolutely no problem with the same networks. Although when I tried copying something from a friend’s PowerBook, it was glacially slow.

I believe ClearWire was running with standard NetGear base stations, but I don’t know how they were configured.

The ClearWire representative was helpful (hi Sky!), but obviously not there to support the iPhones at the show. Still, it was troubling that they didn’t work, and this doesn’t make me want to buy their service.

It was cool how the iPhone kept working (even if I had to drop to EDGE speeds).

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