Free Broadband Internet Access!

So you're looking for free broadband Internet access?  Join the club!  There's been a lot of discussion over the years regarding broadband Internet being a basic human need in modern society.  In other words, it should be considered a public utility.  Arguments that public libraries offer free high speed Internet only meets with resistance.  Many people feel that having mobile broadband has become a basic human right.  This point can surely beFree Broadband Internet debated, and certainly becomes very controversial.

As this site gets a tremendous volume of visitors looking for No Contract Wireless Internet, it only makes sense for me to include information about how to get free mobile broadband, right?!  There's a link at the bottom of the page that will take you to information about getting a free cell phone and service for qualifying households.  So it fits nicely into the general spirit of informing visitors to this site of all available options to discuss free broadband as well.  Also, unlike the free wireless phone service programs, the free broadband Internet access programs that have emerged are not government subsidized programs.  They are completely new business models that seek to gain people's share of mind.  Let's take a look at how they work, and summarizes their offerings!

So How Is Free Wireless Internet Possible?

The concept is actually quite simple.  The first company to offer free service was FreedomPop.  They offer a token amount of monthly data that is more than sufficient to browse the Internet and check email.  Of course, if you stream videos from YouTube or watch NetFlix regularly, you'll quickly run through your allocation.  Arguably, streaming video, or playing online games is not yet considered a basic human right, so the free allocation is definitely reasonable.  So how can a company with this model make money and stay in business?  What they do is sell usage above the monthly free access.  If they sell it at reasonable, or at least competitive prices, the theory is that they can get enough paying customers to support the free portion of the service.

Also, by using MiFi Mobile Hotspot modems as their main product offering (although USB modems are also available), they keep the WiFi access available for anyone to connect to.  What this means is that if you're using your FreedomPop free broadband Internet access in a public place (ex. a coffee shop), others will be able to connect to it.  They can then sign up for free access (i.e. get their own modem).  If they do, FreedomPop will give you additional free Internet access for the referral.  Consider that if enough of those people then go ahead and end up purchasing additional access after their free service in a given month is used up, and they in turn share their connection with others, the viral nature could result in a sufficiently large customer base to build a profitable business.  As they've been around for a number of years now, all signs point towards a sustainable business model.  Hopefully it will continue to be sufficiently profitable to endure over the long term!

Is Free Broadband Internet Access A Scam?

Absolutely not!  Will the business model work?  Only time will tell.  I expect that FreedomPop has built a lot of business models that show the minimum paying subscribership that they need to be profitable.  I also expect that its investors are taking a calculated risk.  If their base grows very large, the company could end up selling to a larger carrier who wants those customers.  In other words, if it works really well, the founders and investors could end up being very wealthy!  It's interesting to note that Skype's co-founder, Niklas Zennstrom, is behind FreedomPop, so he's no stranger to turning free services into thriving and profitable businesses.

Are There Other Free Broadband Internet Access Providers?

What's interesting about FreedomPop is that this is their only business.  It's do or die for them, so you can expect very careful management of their offers and programs.  On the other hand, NetZero also provides free mobile broadband service as well.  The big difference with them is that their company has been around for decades.  That could either help them tremendously, or hurt them if they don't provide sufficient resources and focus on building out this new business.

Note, also, that NetZero is taking a different approach in terms of their offer.  They are providing one year of free service for a lower speed connection (1-Megabit), which will be fast enough for email and most Internet sites, but not fast enough for streaming video or gaming.  If you want the faster 10-Megabit speed you'll need to pay for a monthly plan (i.e. only the slower speed is free).  This is more of a trial period type of offer, and a very different and far less risky business model.  If people like the service, it's very likely that you'll buy a plan well before the year is up.  Also, with NetZero, once you change to a paid plan, you cannot return to the free service, and you can only get the free plan for one year.  Compare that to FreedomPop, which lets you use the free monthly service in perpetuity, and simply purchase additional plans as needed.  Lastly, note that neither company is using an ad-supported model, which NetZero is famous for in the late 90s; it required users to watch ads in order to get the free service.

The following table provides a general overview comparing the available free broadband Internet access services.  Clicking on the provider's logos will take you directly to the company's website to review the details of their offers to see if any of them meet your needs!

Provider Free Offer Modems Speed Notes

FreedomPop Free Mobile Broadband

500MB/month MiFi Hotspot 4G
  • Free service is not backwards compatible with 3G
  • Extra data = $0.02/MB
  • Speed is restricted compared to available paid plans
  • 4G/3G plans available: $4.66 for 500MB, $16.66 for 2GB, $29.99 for 4GB, etc.
  • Additional data can be earned for free by referring friends or doing surveys
  • Also offer Free Cell Phone Service; check it out on the Monthly Plans Chart or go directly to their site: FreedomPop.
NetZero Free Mobile Broadband 200MB/month USB

MiFi Hotpsot
4G
  • The free service is limited to 1-Mbit/sec speeds (compared to 10-Mbit for paid service); i.e. It's NOT 4G!
  • If you change to a paid plan within the first year, you cannot return to the free plan.

There's also an FCC regulated program that offers free and subsidized Internet via the Lifeline Broadband program.  Are you interested in a free phone and service to go along with your free broadband Internet access?  Learn more at Free Cell Phone Service.


Free Broadband Internet Access

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