Remember NetZero, the company best known for offering free dial-up Internet service? Well they're back! NetZero today launched a free 4G wireless that offers a year of free mobile Internet and a free data plan through a partnership with Clearwire. With NetZero 4G Mobile Broadband there is no contract, commitment, activation charge and no overage charges.
All data plans, including the free plan, require the purchase of one of two affordable access devices: the NetZero 4G HotSpot ($99.95) and the NetZero 4G Stick ($49.95). The NetZero 4G HotSpot simultaneously supports up to eight Wi-Fi-enabled devices within a 150-foot range, while the NetZero 4G Stick supports a single laptop or netbook via a USB port. It is available today in over 80 cities nationwide, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and Miami.
Here's the price package breakdown.
- Free: $0, 200MB/month (limited to 1 year)
- Basic: $9.95, 500MB/month
- Plus: $19.95, 1GB/month
- Pro: $34.95, 2GB/month
- Platinum: $49.95, 4GB
NetZero 4G Mobile Broadband includes an unique feature that lets customers switch the speed of their service to meet their data needs. NetZero 4G Mobile Broadband subscribers can set their service at either LightSpeed, which delivers download speeds of up to 1Mbps, or WarpSpeed, which provides download speeds of up to 10Mbps. Customers in any of the service plans can toggle their speed setting to LightSpeed (to conserve data) or WarpSpeed (to maximize speed) at any time.
With NetZero 4G Mobile Broadband, there are no overage charges. Customers cannot accidentally exceed monthly data allotments. An alert lets customers know when they reach their monthly data limit, at which point, they have three options. Option 1: If customers are on a pay plan, they can buy extra data “Top Ups” that they can use through the end of their current billing cycle. Option 2: Customers can upgrade to a higher capacity data plan. Option 3: Customers can wait until the next month to utilize the service with a fresh allotment of data according to their existing plan.It's an interesting business model to offer free wireless 4G service, even if it is capped at 200MB/month. It might get users hooked on the fast service and come the 1-year renewal if NetZero doesn't continue the free offering for existing customers, the customers may still stick while their service and pay the lowest-tier pricing or perhaps even upgrade. My guess is that in a year, existing customers will likely pay $9.95/month for the 2nd tier 500MB/month allotment while new sign-ups will continue to get "free" 1 year of 200MB/month 4G Internet usage. This will cause some price pressure on Verizon and AT&T to keep their data plans low. So for that, thank you NetZero!