Google’s Wireless Service, Project Fi, Readies for Launch

Google's Project Fi

This didn’t take long…

Just a month after confirming the company would be rolling-out a test of their own wireless service at Mobile World Conference, Google has unveiled the details of what it is dubbing “Project Fi” on their blog today.

As reported here in March, Google’s Project Fi will tap the 4G LTE networks of Sprint and T-Mobile, combined with Wi-Fi when available, for both data & calls. Consumers will pay for only the data they use — instead of “rolling-over” unused GB like some wireless providers, Google will credit users (in dollars & cents) for their leftover data monthly. Project Fi

All Project Fi plans will include a base $20 fee, which covers unlimited domestic calls & texts, unlimited international texts, discounted international calls, and Wi-Fi tethering. Google wireless will cover users in 120+ countries as well (though, international calling fees will apply). On top of the $20 base cost, Project Fi users will choose the amount of data they think they will need monthly, and pay $10 per GB. Even if, say, you select a 1GB/month plan, and actually use 1.5GB one month, you’d still only pay an extra $5 for more data — essentially, there are no overage costs tied to Project Fi at all.

Honestly, it’s a hell of a deal (financially-speaking) — by comparison, AT&T charges me over $150/month for 10GB of data (in which I typically use about 1) between my iPad & iPhone. If you’re in a similar position with your current wireless provider, you could save over $1400/year (certainly, not chump change).

The immediate downside is that Project Fi will be limited to a single device upon initial roll-out: Google’s own Nexus 6. Unless you already own this smartphone, a new one will run you either $649 or $699, depending on storage size. While Google isn’t offering any subsidized pricing on the Nexus 6 for Project Fi customers, though you can choose to pay the full amount over a year.

There’s no doubt that other device manufacturers could open up their smartphones to Project Fi; the service’s own FAQs basically confirm as much, as the only real requirement is the Google-devised SIM card, which enables the phone to work on multiple cellular networks. Though, if you’re an iPhone fan, I wouldn’t hold my breath on a Project Fi-enabled device coming anytime in the near future — Google stands to gain from increased data collected & ad revenue from having its own wireless service, something Apple isn’t likely going to be too willing to share with a major competitor.

If you live in Chicago (or any other major US city, apparently), Project Fi is available in our area. Anyone interested in signing up for an invite to Project Fi can request one here.

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