NetZero, there’s a name we haven’t heard for a long time. They are the folks who, back in the early days of the Internet, marketed free (ad supported) dial-up Internet connections. ‘Course, some of our younger readers may have no idea what dial-up Internet connection is!

With dial-up going the way of the dinosaurs, NetZero has evolved into a 4G mobile data service. Yeah, that’s quite a jump!

NetZero-USB-4G-DongleAnd they have an intriguing offer – free 4G mobile data – but not a whole lot of it.

Here’s the offer: shoppers can purchase a $50 USB dongle, or a $100 mobile hotspot device which can connect up to eight devices to connect to the Internet over Wi-Fi, from NetZero.

After doing so, they can access the NetZero 4G mobile Internet service for free for one year. The free allowance is 200 MB per month. After the allowance is used up, service stops. The shopper will receive suggestions encouraging them to sign up for a higher usage data plan. Plans range from $9.95 a month for up to 500 MB of usage, to $49.95 for up to 4 GB of usage. The offer is available on NetZero’s website now.

At the end of the free year of 200 MB of data per month, shoppers will be prompted to sign up for a paid plan to continue using the dongle or hotspot device.

The free 200 MB is enough to check e-mail and do some light surfing. It’s designed to leave the shopper wanting more. Other than suggestions to sign-up for a higher usage paid plan, there are no other third party ads from NetZero.

NetZero’s 4G service piggybacks on ClearWire, so it’s available in about 80 cities across the US that ClearWire serves.