NetZero offers free Wi-Fi 'teaser' service for 1 year

Joining the likes of Virgin Mobile and FreedomPop, United Online's subsidiary NetZero Wireless has decided to bring about a drastic reduction in its charges for Internet broadband connections delivered over the air; thus giving an attractive option to entry-level wireless broadband users who are wary of the high-priced long-term contracts of wireless carriers.

The move by NetZero - which came of with a free dial-up service way back in 1990s - is very much on the lines of Virgin and FreedomPop as well as a few other companies, which are either already offering, or have plans underway to offer, wireless Internet data on prepaid plans or at costs which are much more affordable than those of the leading wireless carriers.

The no-contract NetZero plans will allow customers to sign up for the company's "free" plan by paying $50 for a wireless USB card which will give them 200MB every month.

However, for tablets owners sans a USB port, NetZero will have a $100 option for "a mobile hot spot" offer which will enable users to connect as many as eight Wi-Fi-equipped devices to the Internet, and provide up to 200 MB of data each month.

With the `free' offer by NetZero to last only a year, after which users will be dropped or required to sign up for other plans, analyst Roger Entner - from Recon Analytics - said: "It's a teaser plan. They're not giving away a lot of bandwidth with this, and they hope customers upgrade to a bigger plan. But this is serving an underserved market."