Clear Stick Atlas

The Clear Stick Atlas ($49 direct) looks, feels, and works just like any other USB cellular modem. But unlike other modems, the Atlas provides you with an unlimited amount of data. That’s right: For just $49.99 per month, or $34.99 with capped speeds, the Atlas gets you unlimited 4G WiMAX data. That means you can even use it as your primary home connection—if you only need to get one device online at a time, that is. Though Clear doesn’t offer speeds as fast as 4G LTE on ATT or Verizon, neither of those carriers offer unlimited data. That makes the Atlas an excellent pick for users looking to get online both at home and on-the-go. It’s our Editors’ Choice for USB modems on Clear.

Pricing and Physical Features
Clear’s biggest advantage over much larger service providers like ATT, T-Mobile, and Verizon is that it is the only carrier to offer truly unlimited data. There are two plans available for the Atlas. The less expensive one costs $34.99 per month, and gets you unlimited WiMAX data, with download speeds capped at 1.5Mbps and uploads at .5Mbps
(which effectively means 3G-like speeds, albeit only where there is 4G coverage). The $49.99 plan also gets you unlimited data, though there’s no cap on download speeds, while uploads are limited to 1Mbps. Keep in mind that this modem is 4G-only, so be sure to check a map of Clear’s 4G coverage area to see if service is available where you live and where you plan to travel.

The only comparable plan to Clear’s comes from Virgin, which offers unlimited data for $50 per month with its Ovation MC760 USB modem ($79.99) or MiFi 2200 hotspot ($129.99). But that price is for slower 3G data, with speeds capped at 2.5Mbps across the board. ATT and Verizon may offer blazing fast 4G LTE, but those plans start at $50 per month, and only get you 5GB of data, which you can easily run through in a day spent streaming video. On top of that, the plans from Clear are contract-free, so you can start and stop your service at any time.

Manufactured by Ubee Interactive, the Clear Stick Atlas looks like your typical USB cellular modem. It measures 3.25 by 1.2 by .65 inches and weighs just 1.1 ounces, so it’s super light and portable. The modem is made mostly of shiny gray plastic, with black, grated plastic along the edges. When plugged into a USB port, the modem is capable of 180 degrees of vertical motion. While that doesn’t have an effect on reception, it’s helpful if you’re looking to get just the right fit.

Easy-to-read status lights at the top of the device indicate signal strength and connection status. There are also external antenna ports on the edge of the modem if you’re looking to boost reception.

Setup and Performance
Unlike most other USB modems up until now, the Clear Stick Atlas doesn’t require any software in order to establish and manage your Internet connection. Just plug the Atlas into a free USB port and connect to the Internet. The modem uses your computer’s built-in networking protocols in order to establish a connection, which worked fine on both my iMac, as well as a laptop running Windows 7.

I tested the Atlas against the 3G/4G Plug-in-Connect USB on Sprint (Free, 4 stars), since they both use the same WiMAX network. On a clear spring day, I travelled between 11 different locations throughout New York City, testing the modems in WiMAX mode in each location. I transferred files over FTP, downloaded Web pages using curl, and ran the speed tester at

Reception was average on both devices, and while the Plug-in-Connect pulled in faster download speeds, the Atlas managed to hold its own. On, which simulates Internet streaming, the Atlas averaged 7.1Mbps down, while the Plug-in-Connect clocked in at an average of 9.7Mbps. But average upload speeds were exactly the same for both devices, at 1.3Mbps up (which is faster than Clear’s quoted 1Mbps).

Sure, those upload speeds are slow in comparison to the 4G LTE speeds we’ve seen on ATT and Verizon, but the Atlas is still fast enough to power all the email, browsing, downloading, and streaming video you’ll need. FTP and Web tests were close, but the Plug-in-Connect came out ahead nearly 70% of the time. Still, the whole point of the Atlas is unlimited data—the very solid download speeds are more of a bonus.

The Clear Stick Atlas is a great choice if you’re a heavy data user looking for a connection you can carry with you on-to-go. The Clear Spot Apollo ($99.99, 4 stars) allows you to connect up to 8 devices, though you’re at the mercy of the hotspot’s battery life. WiMAX is no substitute for LTE, but the combination of solid download speeds and unlimited data make the Clear Stick Atlas an excellent value, and an Editors’ Choice.

More Cellular Modem Reviews:
•   Clear Stick Atlas
•   Sprint 3G/4G Plug-in-Connect USB
•   Verizon Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot MiFi 4620L
•   NetZero 4G HotSpot
•   TruConnect MiFi
•  more

507 thoughts on “Clear Stick Atlas

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