Kirkland, Wash. -
, a 4G prepaid brand launched by carrier Clearwire, will target its mobile-broadband service to 18- to 24-year-old city dwellers with only three unlimited-use pricing plans and two devices, including a mobile hot spot.
The service is available initially via Rover.com to consumers living in all 49 of Clearwire's 4G markets and, in Houston and St. Louis, through Clear-branded stores, Best Buy stores and through master agents to independent wireless dealers.
The pricing plans are $5/day, $20/week and $50/month for unlimited no-cap data usage. The mobile hot spot, called the Puck, retails for a suggested $149, and a USB stick called the Stick retails for a suggested $99.99. Both are 4G-only devices lacking 3G for use outside Clearwire's current markets.
As with Clearwire's Clear-branded hot spots and USB sticks, service plans for Rover's devices are the same even though up to eight users at a time could simultaneously use a hot spot, while only one user at a time can use the USB stick. The Rover's hot spot operates for four hours on its internal battery.
Although Clearwire's portfolio of Clear-branded broadband plans includes an unlimited-use plan, the company is using Rover service plans to target a youthful "Internet-addicted" generation that is used to unlimited Internet access and desires simplicity, given that the demographic's parents previously paid for service, the company said.
Rover is focusing on this demographic, Clearwire chief commercial officer Michael Sievert said during a conference call, because simplified service plans with unlimited usage are "solving a problem for this target audience." Nonetheless, other demographics will also likely embrace it, given rising demand in general for unlimited mobile broadband services and prepaid services, he said. Generation Y will embrace the Rover hot spot, he added, because people who share an apartment will be able to share Internet service and share in its costs. They'll also be able to use Rover service with their favorite VoIP applications, he noted.
Only single-mode 4G devices, not combination 3G/4G devices, will be available for now under the Rover brand because a majority of the Clear-branded devices sold are 4G-only and because the targeted demographic is unlikely to travel much outside their home markets, Sievert noted.
Consumers will be able to buy Rover service at Rover.com via debit and credit cards, and they'll be able to buy $20 and $50 gift cards at the stores selling the service.
In a few months, Clearwire will assess potential changes to its distribution model, said Rover GM Seth Cummings.
Clearwire's 4G WiMAX network delivers peak download speeds of more than 10Mbps, peak upload speeds of 1Mbps, and average download speeds of 3Mbps to 6Mbps.
Clearwire also wholesales its service to Sprint, cable operators and Best Buy to resell the 4G services under their own brand name.