New Google Project Fi No Contract Wireless Service
Google Project Fi opened to the public in March 2016.
Ever have a great idea, but then began to doubt yourself? It seems like this is happening at Google, who has just released a new cellular phone service that could revolutionize how we make and receive cell phone calls. It is available to those invited to join only.
Or maybe not.
What is Project Fi?
It’s called project Fi, and the way it works is quite simple. Instead of using a single cellular service, Project Fi actively monitors two mobile networks - T-Mobile and Sprint - and switches your phone on the fly to the best performing network. (It will also support roaming onto other networks)
The truly spiffy part, however, is the switching process works completely in the background - and it can switch you mid-call without skipping a beat. It doubles your coverage, and if that is not enough, the supported phones will also allow you to make calls over a million public Wi-Fi hotspots. Wi-Fi Calling uses Wi-Fi hot spots to make calls or access data. It can hop to cellular network mid-call or during data transfers when you move out of Wi-Fi range.
Sounds great, right?
Only Google Phones Initially
The problem is that Project Fi is built to work only with Google’s Android operating system and only on a single phone - the Nexus 6. Because it is not compatible with other cell phones, many industry analysts believe Project Fi will not garner enough consumer interest to ultimately succeed.
Later in 2016, the $499 32GB Nexus 6P and $199 16GB Nexus 5X with activation, were added.
The other potential problem is shortened battery life. Because the cell phone needs to keep an active signal on both networks to monitor performance it creates an additional drain on the battery - as much as 20%, according to analysts. Motorola boasts a 24-hour battery life for the Nexus 6, but the real test is when consumers begin using the device.
Still, this is not Google’s first rodeo, and if they can scale the technology to encompass more phones and networks Google may still succeed in its multi-carrier initiative. Some industry analysts are unconvinced as are we.
Comparing to Other Carriers
Even with dual carriers, Project Fi’s pricing is cheaper than what Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T offer, but other low-cost carriers still have a price edge. Consumers may not be driven to Nexus 6 by cost; the savings are not all that impressive.
Consider: Google is charging $20/month for unlimited talk and text. They also include unlimited International texts and coverage in 120+ countries.
Add in another $10 per gigabyte for data, and the average user would be paying around $40 a month for Project Fi for a 2GB plan. Yet, the folks over at Cricket Wireless will charge you only $35 for 2.5GB, over double the data, but lack the International flexibility. Google will give you a monetary credit for unused data. 0.01 per MB of unused data.
This pricing also does not appeal to families. Getting 4 lines with 10GB of total data costs $180 a month, while T-mobile charges less.
International data costs the same $10 per GB but is limited to 3G speeds. International calls cost 0.20 per minute.
“It’s not entirely clear what they are trying to accomplish,” said Patrick Healey, a telecom analyst in San Francisco. “If Project FI evolves and gains some traction with consumers, it could be a threat to mainstream carriers…but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.”
We will wait and see how Google handles this experiment. In the end, T-Mobile or Sprint may come out ahead through access to more customers. Will it make AT&T Wireless or Verizon Wireless changes their plan? Time will tell.