It has been almost fifteen years ago NetZero attempted—and failed— to change the world by providing people with free, ad sponsored internet surfing. In a recent announcement they seem to be trying it again, now offering a wireless (cell service based) dongle that will allow people to connect to the internet for free after purchase. The catch is that the device is 50 dollars, and you only get 200 Megs of data a month—go over that and it is going to be around 50 dollars for up to 4 gigs more of data. The billing seems to be pay as you go, so you are only forced to pay a fee when you run out of data.
It is interesting that if this had been a thing in 2005 it might have stood a chance of turning a profit and making this company have a solid standing again. Considering that most service providers are quickly losing their fight with consumer groups to put bandwidth caps on usage, that most businesses offer free Wi-Fi, and that streaming video now eats up almost the highest tier of usage (and for 50 dollars) this is probably not going to be something that works for most people. The idea of someone who travels enough and needs internet at all times, but isn’t in a populated enough area to have free browsing also probably isn’t going to have cell coverage there either.