Zero hour for ‘freemium’ WiMAX firm; free 4G access for one year up for grabs

21 Mar 2012

Self-styled ‘freemium’ 4G provider NetZero has announced the launch of its pre-paid mobile WiMAX service, which piggybacks on Clearwire’s national 4G network. Citing a fact sheet distributed to media outlets, Fierce Wireless quotes NetZero as saying: ‘NetZero 4G Mobile Broadband requires no contracts, commitments or overage charges. Customers simply pick the data plan that meets their needs, starting at just USD9.95 per month. They can even try the service for up to one year free’. The free service in question offers users 200MB of data per month, while alternative paid-for data plans are as follows: ‘Basic’ (500MB, USD9.95 per month); ‘Plus (1GB, USD19.95); ‘Pro’ (2GB, USD34.95) and ‘Platinum’ (4GB, USD49.95). All of the service plans, including the free one, require customers to purchase a ‘NetZero 4G Mobile HotSpot’ for USD99.95 or ‘NetZero 4G Stick’ for USD49.95.

Fierce Wireless goes on to note that NetZero’s free mobile broadband offering has effectively beaten high-profile freemium start-up FreedomPop to the punch. FreedomPop, which previously inked a wholesale agreement with stricken Long Term Evolution (LTE) operator LightSquared in February 2012, was subsequently forced to sign a wholesale agreement with Clearwire as well, in an effort to ‘guarantee’ its launch by 2H12 at latest. The company, which is backed by Skype and Kazaa co-founder Niklas Zennstrom, hopes that subscribers who pay for premium 4G services will subsidise customers using FreedomPop’s entry-level broadband services for free.

United States, Clearwire, NetZero