Thursday, April 23, 2015

Google is changing the game again with Project Fi

Google is known for using a "Throw everything at the wall and see what sticks" approach in mobile technology.  They have some successes like Nexus phones, Chromecast, and Chromebooks but they've also had plenty of failures like Google Buzz, Google Wave, and Nexus Q.  They produce so many products simply because they have the money to do so and it pushes the market forward and causes other companies like Microsoft, Apple, Comcast and many others to step their game up.  A great example of this is Google Fiber which is in only a few select markets, but its basically 1GB internet for the price your cable company charges for 30Mbps internet.  Because of google fiber, companies like Comcast have doubled their internet speeds free of charge in order to fight back.

Now Google is trying to do it again with Project Fi.  Rumors have been out for about 6 months or more that Google wanted to get into the mobile network game, but no one really knew how they would do it.  They announced on 22 April, 2015 exactly what they plan to do.

Project Fi isn’t exactly a new mobile network, nor is exactly like a MVNO (small market carriers like Cricket, Straight talk, Boost using one of the bigger carrier’s network) it's something totally new.  Project Fi will use both T-Mobile and Sprint networks as well as seamlessly jump on to any wifi hotspot it can in the process.  

The cost will be relatively cheap in that you’ll get unlimited texts and calls for $20 but you’ll pay $10/GB of data that you use.

The data is billed in a way that you pay for what you use.  If you pay for 3GB but only use 1.2GB, you’ll see a credit on your next bill for $18.  The same thing happens if you pay for a small amount of data, but you go over that amount.  For example, if you pay for 2GB but use 3.5GB of data that month, you’ll be billed $15 for the extra amount that you used.  Keep in mind that any data used while connected to wifi will not be charged so if you’re in a wifi network at home and at work, you might be able to get away with a very cheap $30 phone bill.

Phone calls and texts will use both T-Mobile and Sprint networks, but you will also be able to make phone calls and texts over wifi.  With Google’s Hangouts app, you will be able to make a phone call or text on your phone, tablet, computer, or anything connected to the internet with the hangouts app installed (even iOS devices). The assumption is that the number you get with Project Fi will be like a Google Voice number that associate with your email and use in hangouts.

The catch
There is one catch with this amazing service and that is you have to use a Nexus 6 for now which cost $649 for 32GB and $699 for 64GB.  I’m sure other phones (probably in the Nexus line or Moto X types) will come to market with the ability to use Project Fi but it’s Nexus 6 only for right now.  Google will give you the option to pay monthly for the Nexus 6 in which it will add $27.99 or $29.99 to your bill monthly and if you decide to leave Project Fi, you will need to pay for the rest of the phone.

You should be able to use Project Fi anywhere there is a T-Mobile and Sprint coverage but you can check their coverage map here.  You can also use your Project Fi phone across the globe and get cheap rates to call back to the US. You’ll only get slow (256kb) data rates, but data will be charged just as if you’re in the United States.

Project Fi is invite only for now and Google has a FAQ to answer most of your questions about Project Fi.  

Source:  Project Fi

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