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4G Is Nearly Free With NetZero

Internet service provider and United Online Inc. subsidy NetZero Inc. is going mobile with the help of Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR), announcing on Monday a NetZero 4G Mobile Broadband service using the WiMax technology.

The company is offering the contract-free service at no cost for one year with the purchase of either a $100 HotSpot or $50 USB stick to power any Wi-Fi-capable device, including laptops and tablets. After the free year, consumers can continue on with free service of 200MB per month or upgrade for more data ranging from $9.95 per month for 500MB of data to $49.95 for 4GB per month. Once a users reach their cap, they won't incur overage charges, but rather have the option of topping up, upgrading to a higher-capacity plan or discontinuing service until the next month.

NetZero's Coverage Map

NetZero's mobile broadband service works in the 80 cities in which Clearwire has WiMax up and running. The company is promising download speeds of up to 10Mbit/s and upload speeds of up to 1.5Mbit/s. As a way to lets users balance their own data use against speed, NetZero lets users switch between "LightSpeed" with slower download speeds of up to 1Mbit/s or to "WarpSpeed" with download speeds of 10Mbit/s when needed.

Why this matters
NetZero beats fellow Clearwire wholesaler FreedomPop, which also has a deal in place with LightSquared , out the gate with a free WiMax-based wireless service. (See FreedomPop Bets on 4G With Clearwire.)

The company is hoping to reach those Americans who maybe can't afford a more expensive data service, but they'll be limited by Clearwire's reach. The wholesale operator currently covers 130 million people in the U.S., but has no plans to keep growing its WiMax network as it instead switches to building out Long Term Evolution (LTE). (See Clearwire Ends 2012 With 10.4M Subs.)

For more
Read up on Clearwire's wholesale business.



— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:39:05 PM
re: 4G Is Nearly Free With NetZero

Yeah, I thought it was 70 cities for Clear, but what's NetZero using in the other 10?

joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:39:05 PM
re: 4G Is Nearly Free With NetZero

CLWR has 80 WiMax cities up now? Sprint is running in 71 markets according to their WiMax coverage map.

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:39:02 PM
re: 4G Is Nearly Free With NetZero

NetZero says that Clear is in 80 cities, but it also depends on how you define cities. I think they're counting some towns as cities in their definition. The company also has no plans to move to LTE with Clearwire - just WiMax.

kaps 12/5/2012 | 5:39:00 PM
re: 4G Is Nearly Free With NetZero

Looks like it is just semantics -- Clearwire's list of cities includes "St. Paul/Minneapolis" in Minnesota as one city, while NetZero claims two, and NetZero breaks out Oakland in California while Clearwire apparently lumps Oakland in with San Francisco (even though the coverage cloud extends over to the east side of the bay). No biggie.


What I think is cool is the ability for the user to select the connection speed needed -- perfect new way to control data usage. More evidence that Clearwire is building smarts into their network and letting partners use those smarts. We've heard a lot of that from the bigger competitors, but haven't seen any of that yet.


Oh wait, isn't Clearwire dead? Sorry, carry on.

kaps 12/5/2012 | 5:39:00 PM
re: 4G Is Nearly Free With NetZero

Looks like it is just semantics -- Clearwire's list of cities includes "St. Paul/Minneapolis" in Minnesota as one city, while NetZero claims two, and NetZero breaks out Oakland in California while Clearwire apparently lumps Oakland in with San Francisco (even though the coverage cloud extends over to the east side of the bay). No biggie.


What I think is cool is the ability for the user to select the connection speed needed -- perfect new way to control data usage. More evidence that Clearwire is building smarts into their network and letting partners use those smarts. We've heard a lot of that from the bigger competitors, but haven't seen any of that yet.


Oh wait, isn't Clearwire dead? Sorry, carry on.

jdbower 12/5/2012 | 5:38:59 PM
re: 4G Is Nearly Free With NetZero

I've never understood bandwidth management by reducing the available bandwidth.  If I'm going to view a webpage it doesn't matter what my connection speed is, I still download the same amount of data but with the slower speed it takes longer.  One could argue that streaming video could make a difference, but even at 1Mbps that's an awful lot of video data you can consume with caps in the 100's of MB arena.  When I switched from a 3G phone to an LTE phone my bandwidth usage didn't change at all, I have the ability to consume more but without making an effort to do so that doesn't mean I will consume more.  


I suppose there's a subtle psychological effect that if a webpage takes 10 seconds to load instead of 2 you're less likely to click on the next link, but that's a poor substitute for proper bandwidth monitoring and self control.  Putting an alarm on the fridge may make me open it less, but it doesn't prevent me from taking out the fudge cake when I do.

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