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NetZero surprised the world when it offered up free ad-supported Internet access back in 1998. Now the company will soon try to bring its cost-effective approach to Web access with a low-cost no-contract 4G wireless data service.

“Our service gives customers the freedom to take the Internet anywhere in our coverage area, without being tied to public Wi-Fi service or having to purchase higher-cost, sometimes multi-year plans offered by other mobile broadband providers,” said Mark Goldston, CEO of NetZero-parent United Online, in a statement.

To get access, customers first have to buy a $50 NetZero 4G Stick or a $100 NetZero 4G Hotspot. NetZero then offers up to 200MB of data usage per month for free and then pricing escalates when you need more, as you can see in the pricing structure below:

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The pricing on the lower tiers is fairly inexpensive and gives nice flexibility. But once you start getting up to the 4GB usage level, it’s actually more cost-effective to use T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T, or Verizon Wireless. Each of those offers either 5GB or 6GB of data for about $50 a month whereas NetZero is 4G for $50 a month.

NetZero is backed by the troubled Clearwire company, which is partially owned by Sprint. Clearwire offers WiMAX 4G, but that type of data technology has been pushed aside by more popular LTE. But perhaps with this new arrangement, WiMAX can find a place in the market as a lower-cost alternative to LTE. Clearwire’s WiMAX network covers 82 cities across the U.S. and surrounding areas, so be sure to do your research before buying in.

Girl using computer: Lucky Business/Shutterstock

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