When end users can get your offering for free, you need to find inexpensive ways to market your product – and NetZero, which offers 200 MB per month of free mobile data service —has found at least one way to do that. The company said today that it has reached an agreement with Facebook that will essentially enable it to mine Facebook’s end user base for new customers.

The way it will work is that Facebook users can sign up to give away one free gigabyte of NetZero mobile data per month to their Facebook friends, with each friend receiving 200 MB per month. Facebook users cannot claim any part of the free gigabyte for themselves. But they can claim data from Facebook friends who choose to participate in the program.

Before anyone can offer the free data, they must register with NetZero. And to use the service, they must purchase either a NetZero 4G Stick or NetZero 4G Hotspot device. The 4G Stick normally costs $49.95 but NetZero is offering it at half price through October. The 4G Hotspot, which normally sells for $99.95, also will be offered at half price for the same time period.

NetZero has been offering its free mobile data service, which uses Clearwire’s WiMax network, since March. Where the company monetizes the offering is on premium service tiers, including:

  • Basic: $9.95 for 500 MB/month
  • Plus: $19.95 for 1 GB/month
  • Pro: $34.95 for 2 GB/month
  • Platinum: $49.95 for 4 GB/month

People who have signed up for any of NetZero’s offerings, including the free 200 MB-per month offering, can add the data they claim through friends’ participation in the Facebook promotion to their monthly allotment.

Anyone thinking of participating in this program should first take a look at the FAQ on NetZero’s website so that they understand what they’re getting in to, however. If a Facebook user opts to participate in the program, NetZero will automatically post a status update on the user’s Facebook wall every month inviting the person’s friends to claim the mobile data. The Facebook user cannot choose which friends get the free data. Instead, any of the person’s Facebook friends can claim the data on a first-come, first-served basis.

NetZero is not alone in offering a free mobile data service. Just last week FreedomPop launched a similar offering, also underpinned by Clearwire’s WiMax network. FreedomPop’s free monthly allotment is considerably higher than NetZero’s – 500 MB rather than 200 MB.


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