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You Can Now Buy Friends With Data Thanks to NetZero

Like EarthLink, NetZero is a gutty ISP that continues to reinvent itself after serving up "free" Internet access via modems fourteen years ago. And like EarthLink, the company is now finding new ways to stay afloat in a world full of tablets and smartphones. As an example, NetZero announced a 4G Mobile Broadband service back in March. Now the company wants to hand out free data to everyone on Facebook.

On Tuesday NetZero announced its 4G Data Share program, allowing Facebook users to "gift" 1 GB of free data to anyone on the social network through the NetZero 4G Data Share Facebook app. A NetZero data plan isn't required to share the data, but a NetZero 4G Mobile Broadband data plan – including the Free 200 MB/month plan – is required to use the gifted data.

NetZero offers five plans: Free (200 MB per month), Basic (500 MB for $9.95/m), Plus (1 GB for $19.95/m), Pro (2 GB for $34.95/m) and Platinum (4 GB for $49.95/m). There are no contracts, no commitments, and customers can change plans at any time. But the service only works on NetZero's hardware which includes the $24.98 NetZero 4G Stick (USB) for laptops and netbooks, and the $49.98 NetZeo 4G HotSpot for all Wi-Fi gadgets.

So let's recap for a moment: to give 1 GB of data, users must sign up with the program and use the Facebook app, but don't need to be a NetZero customer. To claim the data, users don’t have to be a NetZero subscriber, or own a device -- any Facebook member can claim the data and join the program. But to use the gifted data, recipients must own at least one of the two NetZero 4G Mobile Broadband devices (which uses the free 200 MB by default).

The catch to receiving data from Facebook contacts is that recipients can only claim 200 MB of data from a single registered Facebook user each month. That means five Facebook friends must send data so that you can get the full 1 GB per month.

This new "1 GB giveaway" program is a clever marketing tool to reel in potential customers. At the very least, NetZero could potentially squeeze $25 from each Facebook participant. Get enough friends and family members involved, and each customer could receive 1.2 GB of data free each month. Thus, each one of your five friends could lure in five friends of their own, rinse and repeat – you get the picture, right?

"With the launch of this innovative program, we are remaining true to our commitment to bridge the digital divide and bring the power of the Internet to more Americans," said Rusty Taragan, President of NetZero Wireless. "This program has the potential to deliver an enormous amount of free data at 4G speed to NetZero 4G Mobile Broadband subscribers to use online without being tethered to a home Internet or public Wi-Fi connection."

To get started, head over to Facebook here.

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