Clearwire targets pre-paid 4G at youth market

Clearwire has launched the US’ first pay-as-you-go 4G mobile broadband service with a focus on signing up impoverished teens – sorry, make that ‘tech-savvy Gen Y customers’.

The Rover brand offers unlimited usage for $5 a day, $20 a week or $50 a month.

“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.”

Users will also need one of the company’s access devices. The Rover Puck is described as a portable Wifi hotspot that lets the user share broadband access across up to eight devices at a time. It gives mobile download speeds of 3-6mbps, and costs $149.99.

Alternatively, there’s a USB stick for a single device, costing $99.99.

It seems like a pretty good service, and quite why the company is so sure it’s only suitable for the young is unclear, unless it’s that Clearwire thinks they’re too dumb to understand most pricing plans – and, let’s face it, who isn’t?.

“Rover offers iconic devices along with straight-forward pricing, and plans where unlimited truly means unlimited,” says Seth Cummings, Rover general manager. “It is not in Rover’s DNA to be constraining, confusing or complex.”

IDC says the market for pay-as-you-go mobile broadband could be a significant one.

“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,” said Carrie MacGillvray, an IDC program manager and wireless analyst.

“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.”