PROS / NetZero provides dial-up, DSL and mobile broadband services.
CONS / NetZero does not include internet security or parental control software free with the basic plan like our higher-ranked products.
VERDICT / If you happen to live in an area where NetZero offers DSL services, this would be a good ISP option for you.
Editor's Note: This review has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it no longer ranks as a top 10 product. The original review is below, but check out our current top 10 about internet service providers here.
NetZero provides dial-up, accelerated dial-up and DSL internet service in the continental U.S. This northern California ISP is a subsidiary of United Online, which also owns Juno. This company has been providing home internet service since 1998 and was one of the first to offer free internet access to entice advertisers with its targeted marketing ability. NetZero grew quickly and went public in 1999. Currently, the company restricted the free dial-up services to 10 hours per month.
NetZero compares its services to other early dial-up adopters, including AOL, EarthLink, PeoplePC and MSN. The company offers unlimited dial-up access for a minimal monthly charge, and the customer service agents will help you over the phone to set up your service for the first time free of charge. In our experiences with NetZero's customer support, we received helpful, thorough email responses within the same day. NetZero provides free 24/7 email support, but you have to pay a fee for telephone support. Fortunately, this company has a much better customer service reputation than its sister company Juno and, unlike most large ISPs, does not currently have any lawsuits against it.
When we searched for available services for our test addresses, NetZero was able to provide DSL or dial-up services to seven of our eight sample addresses, however, the company does not offer services to Alaska or Hawaii. We do not know how many customers they serve, but NetZero states that it offers services in over 6,500 cities in the United States.
With NetZero, you get several email accounts, each of which can store up to 2GB of emails. The basic dial-up plan does not offer free internet security or parental controls. However, the accelerated dial-up and DSL plans offer Norton internet security free with your subscription. The DSL internet plan comes with free live support, which is preferable to paying per minute for phone support on one of the dial-up plans. Lastly, NetZero offers mobile broadband plans in a little over 80 cities. These plans are similar to cellphone data plans and allow you to connect your laptop or other mobile devices to a wireless network.
NetZero provides a personal homepage, which provides links to news, local weather, stock quotes, business news, personals and more. You will also find a tool that will let you view status updates and post to Facebook directly from the NetZero homepage. It also provides a Google search box, which is handy.
We would really like to see NetZero provide free telephone support. Paying by the minute for tech support can add up quickly and seems unreasonable when you could be on the phone for a half hour trying to resolve a modem issue. If you need dial-up or DSL services and do not have access to high-speed internet options such as cable or fiber optics, you may benefit from looking into NetZero if it is available in your area. If you have other options, we suggest you look to one of our high-ranked products that provide more dial-up access numbers.