Back in the 90s NetZero offered free dial-up internet access by placing ads on your screen while you were online. Now the company is back with a new 4G WiMAX offering, and there’s still a free plan — but you’ll have to pay for the equipment.
You can either pick up a 4G USB stick that works with OS X or Windows computers for $50 or buy a mobile WiFi hotspot for $100. Once you do that, you can choose from one of 5 contract-free plans. The free plan can only be used for up to one year.
- Free – 200MB data cap with 1Mbps download speeds and 384Kbps upload speeds
- $9.95 Basic – 500MB cap, 1Mbps down, 384Kbps up
- $19.95 Plus – 1GB cap, 10Mbps down, 1.5Mbps up
- $34.95 Pro – 2GB cap, 10Mbps down, 1.5Mbps up
- $49.95 Platinum – 4GB cap, 10Mbps down, 1.5Mbps up
If you exceed your data cap for the month the service stops working unless you pay extra to move to the next highest level. The prices are reasonably good for a 4G service and the fact that there’s no annual contract means you can cancel at any time.
But the company is piggybacking on CLEAR’s WiMAX network, and you can actually get unlimited data plans from CLEAR for the same price or less than a NetZero Platinum plan.
The key feature setting NetZero apart is the inclusion of a free plan. I wouldn’t recommend trying to stream any movies to your laptop if you want to stay under 200MB per month, but $50 for a stick that lets you check your email on the go for 1 year doesn’t sound that bad.
A bigger problem is that CLEAR’s WiMAX service isn’t available everywhere, so make sure to check the NetZero coverage map before signing up.