Wireless broadband services provider Clearwire announced the debut of Rover, a pay-as-you-go 4G mobile broadband service the company is marketing as ideal for "digitally addicted youth" who are tired of slow speeds, binding contracts and overpriced service. Rover is priced at $5 a day, $20 a week or $50 a month for unlimited 4G Internet usage. New users receive two free days of service, and the company is also offering a 14-day return policy for any device purchases made via the Rover Website or in Clear stores.
Rover's flagship device is the Rover Puck, an ergonomically designed portable WiFi hot spot that lets users share broadband access, or "Puck," with up to eight devices at home or on the go. The Puck serves as an access point for devices such as laptops, netbooks, Apple's iPad and iPod Touch, smartphones, PSP systems, game consoles, and WiFi-enabled digital cameras, among others. The company said the Puck, which retails for $149.99, features mobile download speeds of 3M to 6M bps, with bursts over 10M bps (up to 4x faster than conventional 3G), using Clearwire's 4G network.
The Rover Stick is a personal 4G USB modem that connects any notebook, laptop or desktop to the Rover 4G Service. The Rover Stick is compatible with MacBook and MacBook Pro laptops using Mac OS X, as well as netbooks and notebooks running Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7. Offering the same Internet speed as the Puck, the Stick is available for $99.99.
"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. "We've built Rover from the ground up with products, pricing and features designed specifically to serve a younger market who knows how you get connected is just as important as where. Expanding our offers to meet this underserved segment is an important new business opportunity for Clearwire as we continue to extend our leadership in mobile broadband."
Depending on the retail channel, Clearwire said customers will be able to purchase a Rover Re-Up PIN code or physical Re-Up card in $20 or $50 denominations. Re-Up is available online, at all retail outlets carrying the Puck or Stick, as well as at Re-Up specific retail locations, according to a company release. Clearwire noted Rover does not require a credit card to activate service.
"The opportunity for pay-as-you-go mobile broadband should not be underestimated," said Carrie MacGillvray, program manager and wireless analyst at IT research firm IDC. "Prepaid-or pay-as-you-go-data provides an option for consumers to experiment with the power of mobile broadband without being saddled with a two-year commitment. A prepaid mobile broadband service can offer consumers the ability to access and share Internet service, at home or on the go, in an affordable way."
Seth Cummings, general manager of Rover, said their target audience has never known life without Internet. "They love their devices, and they want as much speed and capacity as possible, without the limits and commitments of most mobile options," he said. "Rover offers iconic devices along with straight-forward pricing, and plans where unlimited truly means unlimited. It is not in Rover's DNA to be constraining, confusing or complex."