Summary Box: NetZero debuts free wireless service

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NETZERO’S BACK: United Online Inc. will offer free wireless Internet service under its NetZero brand, which started the free dial-up phenomenon in 1998.

NO ADS: Users won’t have to look at advertising. The free plan is a lure for customers with the hope of upselling them to paying plans.

BUT: Consumers will need to buy a $50 antenna stick that plugs into a laptop, or a $100 “mobile hotspot” that connects a Wi-Fi equipped device to the Internet. The free accounts are limited to 200 megabytes of data per month? enough for email and Web surfing, but little else.