NetZero teams up with Clear to offer free mobile broadband, kind of

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The new 4G mobile hotspot from NetZero.(Dong Ngo/CNET)

The company that's been famous for offering free dial-up Internet access has just taken a big leap by offering up to one year of free mobile Internet and a free data plan.

NetZero announced today two mobile wireless data solutions including a mobile hot-spot router and a USB modem, called NetZero 4G Hotspot and NetZero 4G Stick, respectively. Both of these devices are 4G-only and will access the Internet via Clear's 4G wireless coverage. The NetZero 4G Hotspot is actually a rebranded version of the Clear Spot Apollo 4G and offers exactly the same feature set.

Clear has been offering mobile 4G cellular Internet for a few years with unlimited data plans starting at around $35 per month. NetZero's 4G Internet solutions, however, come with monthly data caps that top at 4GB for $50. There are also three other monthly data plans that cost $10 (500MB cap), $20 (1GB cap) and $35 (2GB cap). The sweet spot of NetZero's offerings is the free data plan that includes 200MB per month. At full 4G speed, you can actually burn through 200MB in just less than 20 seconds, however.

NetZero is aware of this and provide users an option to manually throttle down the connection speed to either stay in the free zone or the more affordable data plans. To do this, you just need to log into your NetZero online account and change the speed settings between the range of 1Mbps/down 234Kbps/up and 10Mbps/down 1.5Mbps/up.

NetZero's new 4G Internet service is available now with the 4G Mobile Hotspot and 4G Stick and cost $99.95 and $40.95. NetZero says there's no contract required and no other fees involved. The  equipment price also includes a one-year free trial of 4G mobile Internet access.

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