Karma switching off WiMAX network, users must buy new box

The writing has been on the wall for almost a year now, but it doesn't make this latest development any less disconcerting. Karma will be shutting down its WiMAX network come November 6, as it had already hinted last year. Understandably, that will require existing users to upgrade their devices to the new LTE-enabled Karma Go. But if that weren't inconvenient enough, they will practically be paying for it with the same price tag that they paid for when they bought the original Karma little less than 2 years ago.

Karma had the misfortune to bet on the wrong technology bu it will be its customers who will ultimately be paying for it, literally. Karma invested in utilizing WiMAX in order to provide Internet connection everywhere. But history would prove 4G LTE to be the winner and Karma really had little choice in the matter. Since they cannot simply flick a magical switch to make older WiFi hotspot to work with LTE technology, they had to come out with a different device. They announced Karma Go September last year along with a warning about the WiMAX network's impending doom.

That should have probably urged users to at least mentally prepare for the inevitable and many might have already accepted that fate. What doesn't seem to be getting accepted so easily is how much Karma is asking its existing userbase to pay for an upgrade that was never their fault to begin with.

The original Karma cost $100 when it launched in 2012. The new and improved Karma Go, on the other hand, costs a might $149. Karma, however, is throwing existing users a bone. Or rather, a $50 discount. And therein lies the rub. Karma is practically asking users who stuck with it through thick and thin to pay the same amount to upgrade to a Karma Go. A $100 replacement for a $100 device that is just 2 years old, because of a technical problem that shouldn't have been theirs to bear.

There is no question that users will have to buy a Karma Go if they want to stay with the service but there could have been ways Karma could take to make the pain a bit more bearable. When it first announced the Karma Go, it also offered a 50 percent, not 50 dollar, discount for existing users. It could offer that again for a limited period. They might incur some losses, but that would probably be the lesser evil compared to customer losses. Or even bad karma.