Google further expands its reach, this time with a mobile wireless service called Project Fi that was launched here in the US back in April. What sets them apart from other services?
Those who sign up with the service will be able to call, text, and browse the internet on their Google Nexus 6 smartphones, but will change the way we think about placing calls and data plans in general.
The service defaults to Wi-Fi for data and voice, and when your phone can’t connect to a hotspot or network, it will transition to T-Mobile or Sprint with ease. The hope here is to change the way carriers across the nation work -- instead of competing with one another, Google is hoping they see that partnerships are possible, strengthening the network, and driving down data plan costs while keeping them as efficient as humanly possible.
How It Works
Whether you’re working from a coffee shop or relaxing at home, Project Fi will connect to any available Wi-Fi network by default to place calls or browse the internet. Since many are likely wondering how secure these calls and internet browsing sessions can be over a public or shared private network, Google ensures all data will be encrypted. Once Wi-Fi becomes too weak or disappears altogether, the device will jump over to networks belonging to partners T-Mobile and Sprint to get the job done.
It’s no surprise these two cellular giants were the first to partner with Google -- Sprint began offering a similiar Wi-Fi-based calling option in February of last year, and T-Mobile did the same later that very same year.
Users won’t notice when the call switches from one to the other, which is important when you’re taking a highly important call. What’s more, if your phone jumps from one network to another, it won’t be noticed either. Project Fi is like a smart wireless service plan for your smartphone -- it will choose to connect to the wireless carrier whose network offers better performance and reliability based on your current location.
How Do I Join?
Currently, you need to have a Nexus 6 smartphone model number XT1103, and request an invite via Gmail address to participate in the program. Why such a specific model? Housed inside the phone is a specialized radio that supports multiple cellular networks, and works with the specialized Project Fi SIM card, also with multiple cellular network support. Don’t have this phone? Go ahead and purchase an unlocked model online.
When you’re invite is delivered to your inbox, click over to the sign-in site where you will be asked for your ZIP code. You need to have coverage in your area, as with any carrier. You can transfer your current phone number over, or be assigned a new one. It will then ask you to choose a data plan -- no annual contract, and as low as $20 per month plus taxes and fees. A bonus: you will be charged for your data at the beginning of each month, but if you don’t use it all, you are refunded the amount equal to what you didn’t use.
Would you use Project Fi?