Clearwire introduced a new pay-as-you-go 4G mobile broadband service. Connectivity is through a USB dongle or a new portable disk-shaped Wi-Fi router for connectivity.
Clearwire is setting up the whole thing – service and new consumer products – as an entirely separate brand, called Rover, with its own separate website that doesn't even mention Clearwire anywhere on the opening pages. The company has given the portable Wi-Fi hotspot its own brand name as well: the Puck.
The company's cable partners are not presently involved in the service. Clearwire referred questions about cable's involvement to its cable partners, suggesting that if a cable partner wanted in on the action, the option was open. Neither Comcast nor Time Warner Cable was available for comment on short notice at press time.
The Rover Puck is similar in function to the portable hotspots Clearwire is already selling to accompany its Clear service. The Puck can connect up to eight devices – anything that's Wi-Fi enabled, including laptops, netbooks, the iPad, the iPod Touch, smartphones, PSP systems, game consoles and digital cameras, among others.
The Rover Stick is a USB modem that connects any notebook, laptop or desktop to the Rover 4G service; it is compatible with various Macs running OS X and portable Windows machines running XP, Vista or Windows 7.
The Rover Puck and Rover Stick both access Clearwire's WiMAX network, which offers mobile download speeds of 3 to 6 Mbps, with bursts over 10 Mbps.
The Rover Puck is available for $149.99, the Rover Stick for $99.99.
Access charges are $5 a day, $20 a week or $50 a month for unlimited 4G Internet usage. Depending on the retail channel, customers will be able to purchase a Rover Re-Up pin code or physical Rover Re-Up card in $20 or $50 denominations, the company said.
The marketing campaign is aimed directly toward youth, and given the models and the puns on the name of the new hotspot that appear in the marketing materials, the target market is specifically young men.
The company said it also intends to sponsor athletes and events using the Rover brand.
Taking a cue from various new apps, Clearwire said it will introduce a "badging system" that rewards users for participating in Rover activities. For example, the "Trendsetter" badge recognizes early adopters of Rover in each market, and the "Friends with Benefits" badge acknowledges users who refer friends to the Rover service.
"Simple, commitment-free wireless services are wildly popular with the Gen Y crowd, and Rover provides them with the first pay-as-you-go unlimited mobile Internet offering at 4G speeds," said Mike Sievert, chief commercial officer for Clearwire.