Clearwire responded to Netflix's rankings that showed the wireless broadband company turning in the lowest performance among 16 U.S. Internet service providers, saying that wired networks by their nature are faster than wireless technologies.
"For those of you that follow these things, it probably doesn't come as a surprise that a wireless network would rank behind wired DSL, cable and fiber-optic networks in terms of speed," the company said in a blog post Friday.
Clearwire -- the only wireless carrier included in Netflix's comparison -- said, "Wired networks are simply capable of achieving faster speeds than wireless networks. That's just the nature of the technologies."
The more salient point, according to Clearwire, is that its 4G service is fast enough to be included at all in such a ranking.
"We'd like to thank Netflix for ranking us with our wired counterparts and we're jazzed about our ability to deliver a high-quality streaming experience to Netflix subscribers," the company said.
According to Netflix's performance benchmarks, cable operators delivered higher throughput for streaming HD videos than telcos. Charter Communications topped the list, delivering an average of 2.67 Megabits per second over a three-and-a-half month period, according to Netflix.
Clearwire generally delivered less than 1.6 Mbps and sometimes less than 1.4 Mbps on Netflix's performance data, which spanned Oct. 1, 2010, to Jan. 15, 2011.
Another factor for Clearwire's relatively poor showing is that it throttles back connections of heavy users during periods of network congestion, according to a post on DSLReports.com.
But "speed isn't the whole story," Clearwire said. "At a time when mobile video streaming is growing at an incredible rate, our network keeps people connected even after they've left the house (and their wired network behind).... Simply put, mobile broadband gives a Netflix subscriber more value, in more places, than a wired connection ever could."
Clearwire advertises its Clear service as providing download speeds of 3 to 6 Mbps with bursts of more than 10 Mbps.
The company is majority-owned by Sprint, with investments from Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks, Intel and Google.