What Is Net Zero?

by Joshua Laud

NetZero is an Internet Service Provider (ISP) that began during the 1990s. NetZero was one of the few Internet-based companies to benefit from the dot.com crash at the end of the 1990s. NetZero originally offered a free dial-up connection service that brought a large customer base to the company very quickly.

Early History

Ronald T Burr, Stacy Haitsuka, Marwan Zebian and Harold MacKenzie founded the first ever free Internet Service Provider (ISP_), NetZero, in October 1998. By March 1999, 1,000,000 users had signed up for the free service. NetZero maintained their free service by using targeted web address advertising based on browsing habits. NetZero sued multiple ISPs during 1999 and 2000 for copying their patented desktop advertisements.

NetZero in the 2000s

In 2001 NetZero introduced their first paid-for services for users using over 40 hours a month of Internet traffic. NetZero implemented a faster dial-up service in 2005 which still remains in use until today. NetZero's new holding company United Online acquired many other early competitors, during the early 2000s. In 2006 NetZero launched a now-defunct voice mail service called Private Phone.


NetZero utilized dial-up Internet access. Dial-up connections work by telephoning your computer's modem to your ISP's modem in a direct connection. Limited in speed and performance by various factors such as analog telephone noise, dial-up was eventually surpassed by DSL broadband.

NetZero's Dial-up

NetZero, in 2005, implemented pre-compression to its dial-up services, compressing websites and pages before you viewed them, increasing the speed of data you downloaded. NetZero still uses this system today with great success, though images, videos and audio cannot be compressed using the same method and so multimedia browsing is still largely unusable.

NetZero in 2010

In 2010 NetZero still offers its free dial-up Internet service that brought the company popularity and success. NetZero also offers unlimited dial-up options as well as a competitive DSL connection option.

About the Author

Joshua Laud started writing professionally in 2008. During his three years at University he worked freelance for various music publications including "Clash Magazine" and "total:spec," and online Data Transmission and Music is Art. Laud also specializes in technology writing. He has a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of London.