Project Fi is a relatively new mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) from Google. The MVNO provides messaging, phone as well as data services using both Wi-Fi and cellular networkings including Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Three. It is comparable to Republic Wireless, another Wi-FI based cellular service that only connects to Sprint and T-Mobile.
Google’s Project Fi was launched in April of 2015, however the service did not become readily available until 2016. Google introduced their new Pixel phones to the service that same year, and it has grown substantially since then as Project Fi now operates in more than 170 countries.
Project Fi is dependent on Wi-Fi in order to maximize its service. It automatically connects to Wi-Fi hotspots with data encryption through an automatic VPN. When Wi-Fi is not available (or the signal strength is weak, Project Fi opts for one of the major carriers it has a deal with including T-Mobile and Sprint).
Google has modeled Project Fi off the success of Republic Wireless, which has been around longer and was the first successful provider to offer a Wi-Fi centered wireless communication tool.
You may assume that a service dependant on Wi-Fi sounds second rate and unlikely to provide a reliable cell signal and quick data speeds, but you would be wrong. Project Fi has actually performed very well in tests conducted by some of the leading independent agencies in the industry, including Tom’s Guide and Ookla.
Prepaid services have witnessed a major surge in the last five years as they are no longer something only your grandma uses (no offense, grandma). Prepaid services are gaining popularity because users can save nearly half on their monthly bill compared to the “Big Four” (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon) and still offer a quality selection of the latest smartphones.
Google’s Project Fi is a little behind the curve on their selection of smartphones that are compatible with the service though they have gained ground in this area in recent years. Not surprising, the Google Pixel 3 and Google Pixel XL are compatible with Project Fi. There is also a fair selection of Android phones.
However, it is important to note that unlike other low-cost carriers Project Fi does not allow customers to transfer over an existing phone to their network. You have to splurge on something new with them. It seems a little unfair to us (consider the other budget providers have no issue with it) and Project Fi is also not compatible with iPhones.
Along with very reasonable rates (more on that, below), Project Fi also gets two thumbs up for a feature in their plan that credits customers back any data they don’t use. If you pay for it, but don’t use it — you get reimbursed. Pretty cool.
Users of Project Fi have also raved about the app that is provided for its service. Not surprising, the app is top notch as it is created by Google after all.
Google’s Project Fi features a very straightforward approach to your cell phone plan. It works like this: user’s pay $20 p/ month for unlimited domestic calls and texts. Data is then added at $10 p/ GB. Billing for data stops at 6 GB p/ month with their Bill Protection feature, so you will never pay more than $80 ($20 for talk/text and $60 for data) in a given month. Any data used after 6GB is free of charge from Google.
Of course if you plan to use far less data, it is very possible that you might only fork over between $30 and $50 each month. When you do the math, that is a substantial amount in savings compared to what you will pay with major carriers like AT&T and Verizon.
It is also possible to add extra lines to your plan, priced at $15 p/ month at each line which saves you $5 compared to the single line rate. Google enables up to five lines on each plan. For shared plans, the data is shared so you pay a combined fee on total data used among all lines on the account.
Any data that goes unused in any given month is automatically credited back to the user’s account. Group plans also support data overview and notifications, monthly allowances as well as the ability to pause users’ data usage.
Google is no idiot and they have attempted to capitalize on the recent surge in low-cost, budget friendly cellular plans. Project Fi is their version of the successful Republic Wireless formula and in their first couple of years of operation many have applauded the fast speeds, call reliability and overall signal performance of the service.
Project Fi delivers extremely affordable rates especially if you use limited data. It is possible to only spend $30 to $40 p/ month which is huge savings compared to what you would pay with the Big Four.
While Google does provide complimentary data after customers reach 6GB, you will end up paying $80 to get to that point. That price is more per month than what would pay for an unlimited plan with just about anyone else. Not exactly budget friendly.
Also, Project Fi still only has a limited selection of compatible smartphones and you have to buy a new one through them. Users are unable to transfer an existing phone to Project Fi.
Google has been the leader with many technological services for quite some time. Now, they are dabbling in wireless telecommunications. Thus far the performance of Project Fi has been very favorable, and though far from flawless — is trending in the right direction.