I’ve avoided bitching much about Clearwire here, mostly because their bandwidth is so shite it’s rather hard to get the message out.

On the face of it, it’s a remarkable service: near-2Mbit near-WiMax service across Dublin. And indeed, from the Trinity College Sourceforge mirror I’ve seen over 150Kb/sec – which is great. However, beyond Ireland things aren’t so rosy. I see up to about 20Kb/sec from the BBC website, which is OK. From big US sites I get reasonable enough speeds, though still something like 20Kb/sec total – browser session reloads are painful.

But they’re clearly traffic shaping something chronic. If I had to make an educated guess, I’d say they’re prioritising all web traffic, and then traffic from popular sites, in a crappy attempt to mask inadequate peering arrangements. Case in point: from my blog server, in Los Angeles, I get about 10Kb/sec. To the same server, via FTP, I can just about sustain 5Kb/sec on a good day. On a bad day, there’s not even enough bandwidth to sustain an FTP control connection, which is an error I haven’t seen since I was doing FTP over a shared 9600baud serial link. Seriously.

Peer-to-peer apps like BitTorrent are completely nixed, and they’re doing really horrid things to Skype whereby the incoming data stream is excellent, but the outgoing sees 98% packet loss on a 12Kb/sec link, with 8 seconds round-trip latency.

Support are friendly, helpful, and responsive… until you quote any of this stuff at them. At which point they stop claiming it’s your configuration/firewall/router and just clam up.

Upshot: Clearwire Ireland: pile of poo. Avoid, avoid, avoid.