The current free time appears to be random across all of us.
After resetting my HN9000 last weekend when the clock was stuck, I noticed the time and date reported by it were Jan 4, 2000 at just shy of 2AM. AT least now the clock was advancing. But it was reporting 2AM GMT. 5 hours or so later, when it would have been (according to my HN9000) 2AM Eastern, the download zone kicked in just as it should have. It has been this way ever since - approx 7am-2pm.
If my modem's time had been stuck in the free time and I knew this was going on, I'd have left it that way!