As expected, Google has formally announced project Fi, their own mobile carrier. Many of the rumored details of the device are true, while others are not.
First, Google says that for now, only the Nexus 6 is supported for Project Fi. You may either purchase a new Nexus 6 from Google or receive a special SIM card that you can use with your own Nexus 6 that you already have purchased.
Also as expected, Google is running this service off a combination of Sprint, T-Mobile, and Wi-Fi. Instead of being on one network at a time, you will be connected to a tower from both companies and the device will automatically favor the stronger signal over the other.
Google Fi’s prices are typical of an MVNO, such as Virgin Mobile. But if you don’t use any of your allowed data, Google will refund you for the data you did not use. If you have a 2 GB data plan and only use 1.5 GB of data that month, Google will refund you. The 2 GB plan costs $40 per month, so Google will refund you the $5 difference for those 500 MB you did not use.
Google’s Fi Basics includes the following features:
- Unlimited Calls In The US
- Unlimited Domestic And International Texts
- Wi-Fi Tethering
- International Roaming In 120 Countries
Google has special rates for international roaming, but your data costs will remain the same, being $10 per 1 GB. Your data speeds will be limited to 256kbps however, so you will not be getting LTE.
When you make an international call from Canada for example, it will cost $.20 per minute when on the network, but your costs will vary if you are on Wi-Fi, which will use Hangouts as its source of calls and texts. You can find specific international rates here.
Since Google is using Hangouts when connecting over Wi-Fi, you will be able to make and receive both calls and text messages on any device you have with Hangouts installed, whether it is on the network or not. This includes any Chromebooks, Macs, PCs, or tablets.
What Google Fi does not have however, is Family plans. During the initial beta stage, Google is only allowing individual accounts to use the service. Google has not announced how long the trial stage is, but it will probably be for awhile, considering Google’s past beta services.
If you would like to participate in Google Fi, you can request an invite here. As long as you have either T-Mobile or Sprint service in your area, and when you purchase a Nexus 6, you should be good to go. If you don’t want to purchase a new phone, all of the major carriers also have their own prepaid plans you can take a look at instead.