VPNs: Mozilla adds new features to its service, but raises prices for some users

Mozilla's VPN gains split tunneling and says customers demanded more flexible pricing options.

Mozilla's virtual private network (VPN) service has arrived in seven more countries, including Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland. 

The expansion is a big move for the Firefox browser-maker, which launched its VPN in summer 2020 in the US, UK, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, and Malaysia.  The service is available for Windows 10, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS and uses the WireGuard protocol. Mozilla lets users connect up to five devices and currently has over 400 servers in over 30 countries.  

The VPN market has grown considerably over the past few years as consumers realize the value of additional privacy, partly driven by Edward Snowden's leaks about US mass surveillance. 

VPNs let users encrypt traffic between a device, the VPN's servers, and the website a user wants to connect to. That makes them useful for preventing snoops on the same public Wi-Fi networks at cafes and airports from capturing your credentials. 

Mozilla, traditionally trusted because it's a non-profit, is seeking new sources of revenue as its traditional search revenues from Firefox dwindles. But it also has a recognizable and trustworthy brand that lends itself to new services like a VPN. 

The Mozilla-branded VPN launched with a price of $4.99 a month, making it competitively priced compared with better known, consumer-focused paid-for VPNs like ExpressVPN and NordVPN. According to Mozilla, "thousands of people" have signed up its VPN. But those prices are about to change. 

It will honor the $4.99 a month price for customers from the US, Canada, UK, Singapore, Malaysia, and New Zealand, who signed up already. But from now on that price will only be available for customers who sign up for a year. Otherwise the fee rises to $7.99 a month for a six month deal or $9.99 for a month of access. That makes it slightly cheaper than ExpressVPN but more expensive than NordVPN.   

"We changed our prices after we heard from consumers who wanted more flexibility and different plan options at different price points," Mozilla says in a blogpost.  

"For new customers in those six countries that subscribe after July 14, 2021, they can get the same low cost by signing up for a 12 month subscription," Mozilla notes.   

Mozilla also launched a new feature called split tunneling, which allows users to move some traffic through the VPN and funnel the rest through a local connection outside the VPN. This feature is offered by ExpressVPN, NordVPN and other commercial VPN providers. 

"We're launching the split tunneling feature so you can choose which apps that you want to use the Mozilla VPN and which ones you want to go through an open network," Mozilla said. It lets users choose the internet connections on apps they want to to be protected by the Mozilla VPN. It's available on Windows, Linux and Android.

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