March 20, 2012

Free* 4G Wireless Internet from NetZero

I just read some news recently that NetZero is going to get back into the 'free internet' game.   If you are unfamiliar with NetZero, they were popular at one time for offering free dialup internet.  Dialup has gradually become more and more obsolete so that now its not used much at all.    Now however NetZero is going to offer free high speed internet via a 4G wireless modem.  

I put an asterisk on the word free in the title since the free internet requires you to buy a modem and is limited to 12 months of free service.  The modem is $50 which seems like a reasonable price to me.   The free service they offer is limited at only 200MB per month of download bandwidth.   200MB is not a lot, but it should get you a fair amount of email use and some casual web surfing.  A couple years ago Google measured the average webpage at 320kb.  So you could download about 600 webpages with the 200MB limit.  For a lot of people a 200MB limit would not be nearly enough to meet their internet needs. The news article said you'd tear through that limit with just 30 minutes of full screen video.   So this won't serve you if you want to watch Netflix streaming or Hulu or if you have a Youtube habit.  

NetZero is using the same network that Sprint uses for 4G service.   PCWorld tested 4G speeds and they found that Sprints network was about 2.15mbps download and 0.61mpbs upload.  Thats reasonably fast for anything but online gaming.

After the 12 months of free service you could then sign up for their minimum $9.95 /month plan which gives you 500MB of bandwidth.   Thats still a reasonably cheap rate for a high speed internet connection.

Bottom Line:   While its not exactly free, this new NetZero 4G service could be a pretty decent deal if you only have light internet usage.


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