Last year, United Online, the company which was the result of the merger between NetZero and Juno, decided to rejuvenate the NetZero brand by offering up some 4G hotspots and as you'd expect, there was a free option. However the prices were too high if you actually used any data above email browsing, and the network availability was really inconsistent, even in major metropolitan areas. The good news is that last year's announcements were just a piece of a bigger picture. NetZero will continue to be a 4G Internet service provider but will also come complete with deals signed with both Verizon Wireless and Sprint.
During a financial report this week, CEO Mark Goldston announced the new plan for NetZero.
We are pleased to announce two agreements that will significantly expand the coverage and enhance the offerings of our NetZero Mobile Broadband service. We have signed a three-year agreement with Verizon to offer the NetZero Mobile Broadband service on Verizon's nationwide 3G network. When the service is launched, we expect NetZero Mobile Broadband will be available in approximately 500 markets and cover more than 300 million people, or approximately 95% of the entire U.S. population. Also, we have signed a five-year agreement with Sprint to offer the NetZero Mobile Broadband service via Sprint's 4G LTE and 3G networks. This agreement will allow us to expand our NetZero Mobile Broadband coverage to a projected 200 million people in 2014 on the Sprint 4G LTE network.
So, while 3G service may be the only option available for many customers at this point in time, NetZero is definitely looking forward to the future. The past 4G hotspot by NetZero was on Sprint/Clearwire's 4G WiMAX network, a service which, in certain areas, was spotty at best and was merely to hold Sprint customers over until their rollout of 4G LTE late last year. Now, NetZero has a chance to really cover a lot of people, with a range of networks, inevitably ending with full 4G LTE coverage by Sprint for the next five years.
Unfortunately, prices are still a bit high if you're looking to use this for anything beyond an emergency modem. Of course, 200MB will be served up for free, similar to FreedomPop (which will still be on WiMAX for the foreseeable future), but jumping into 500MB will cost you $10 per month, and a 4GB package will run a whopping $50 per month. Luckily if you're interested, NetZero is currently doubling data for those who sign up as a new customer. In the end, NetZero seems to be a good option over some of these "freemium" competitors out there, with the service provider using three different networks to allow for the most reliable and consistent coverage for its customers.