Clear iSpot shares mobile 4G broadband, but with a catch

Ispot_4g Thanks to Sprint's current advertising campaign for the HTC EVO 4G, more people are becoming aware of 4G wireless, also known as WiMAX. What many of them don't realize is the network that pumps all that high-speed data to their shiny new EVOs actually belongs to Clear, who operates the only 4G network in the US in partnership with Sprint.

Clear has marketed its own line of USB modems and portable hotspots for nearly a year now, but its newest hotspot product called the iSpot is different in that it cuddles up with like-named products from Apple, namely the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Nearly identical to the existing Clear Spot 4G that was introduced earlier this summer, the new iSpot is white instead of black, and is on sale right now for an extremely aggressive price of just $29, which is $70 less than the black version.

So now you're probably wondering why the white iSpot is so much cheaper, and here's the catch. For $25/month, you get truly unlimited 4G broadband at max speeds of 6Mbps down and 1Mbps up, but the device only connects to iOS devices. Yup, the iSpot is one of the first products of its kind tailored specifically for Apple's now ubiquitous devices, using MAC address restrictions to limit things. According to Clear's Twitter feed, there will be the option to have a Clear CSR unlock the iSpot in order to be more universal, but then the device must be activated on the standard $40/month plan like the black version.

The lure of a good deal was strong, so I've now got one of the iSpots on the way to me later this afternoon, and I'm looking forward to finding a way around the MAC restrictions. I can't imagine Clear went to the trouble of developing a separate firmware just for this device, but I'll check back in with what I find.

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Chris King

Chris King is a former contributing editor at Pocketables.