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How Google is Trying to Free You From Your Cell Phone Plan

Brad Merrill 24-06-2015

In April, Google unveiled Project Fi — a new wireless service the company claims will deliver faster speeds 4 Tips To Increase Smartphone Charging Speeds Faced with a low battery warning right before you need to leave? These neat tricks can help you charge your smartphone faster than usual so you aren't left with a brick in your hand. Read More and better coverage with a unique, economical approach to pricing. Today, we’re going to take a look at what Google wants to do, and how they plan to pull it off.


What Is Project Fi?

Project Fi is Google’s effort to ensure that everyone has access to a high speed wireless network Wireless Networking Simplified: The Terms You Should Know Do you know the difference between an "access point" and an "ad hoc network? What is a "wireless repeater" and how can it improve your home network? Read More  all the time. Because, even in today’s connected world, there are still times when we need information quickly but don’t have a fast enough connection to get it. Project Fi aims to make sure that never happens.

In addition to offering high-speed data service Gs & LTEs: Understanding Mobile Broadband [Technology Explained] Connecting to the Internet was once all about big honking cords. The cords might be telephone lines, or cable lines, or FiOS lines specifically installed for Internet service, but the running theme is a line... Read More , Google also wants to make Fi more affordable, by billing differently than most mobile plans. Instead of paying for a monthly data plan, with outrageous fees if you exceed it, Google will charge you only for the data you actually use, at a predictable flat rate.

Don’t be mistaken, though: Project Fi is not a wireless carrier GSM Vs. CDMA: What Is the Difference and Which Is Better? You may have heard the terms GSM and CDMA thrown around before in a conversation about cell phones, but what do they really mean? Read More in the traditional sense. Google has made it very clear that it’s not interested in competing with established carriers. In fact, it has partnered with two of the top U.S. mobile carriers — Sprint and T-Mobile — to make Project Fi possible, and it relies on their towers for cellular connectivity.

How It Works

Project Fi is a network of networks. It makes sure you’re connected to the best possible network wherever you are. If you’re on Verizon’s network and Fi detects that Sprint has a stronger signal, you’ll be moved over to Sprint to give you the fastest available speed. Throughout a given day, you may be passed between two 4G LTE networks and various public WiFi hotspots How to Find Free Wi-Fi Hotspots Near You When you need to find free Wi-Fi near you, turn to these apps and services to help you get internet access anywhere. Read More — and, in theory, it will be totally seamless.

Project Fi makes heavy use of WiFi, connecting your device to “free, open networks that do not require any action to get connected.” So, as you step into the range of a public WiFi network, you’ll be automatically connected — and when the signal begins to weaken, you’ll be passed back over to the fastest available cellular network. And don’t worry: all data sent through open WiFi hotspots is secured through encryption How Does Encryption Work, and Is It Really Safe? Read More .


Google also wants to make you device-independent. With Project Fi, your phone number “lives in the cloud.” You can call and text over WiFi, and you can talk, text, and check voicemail using your phone number on just about any device — Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, or Chromebook. In a sense, Project Fi is Google Voice’s big brother. In face, you’ll be asked to either use or throw out your Google Voice number when you sign up.



Project Fi takes a “fresh approach” to plans and pricing. There’s only one available plan, and it really couldn’t be much simpler. There’s no annual contract, and the charges are based on usage.

The first part of the plan, “Fi Basics,” costs $20 per month. This includes unlimited domestic talk and text, unlimited international text, “low-cost” international calls, Wi-Fi tethering 3 Foolproof Ways to Create Your Own Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot for Tethering in North America Do you want to give multiple wireless gadgets on-the-go internet access? Are you sick of getting ripped off by wireless hotspot tethering? There’s a variety of technologies that can help you – the two most... Read More , and coverage in more than 120 countries.


Beyond that, it’s $10 per gigabyte of data. That is, $10 for 1GB, $20 for 2GB, etc.

But wait — it gets more interesting. You only pay for the data you actually consume, and you’ll be credited for any rollover data in the next payment period. For example, if you’re on a 2GB data plan ($20/month) and only use 1GB in a particular month, you’ll get $10 back the following month.

What’s The Catch?

There’s no catch per se — but there are a couple of drawbacks for early adopters.

First and foremost, you have to have a Nexus 6. Google says it’s keeping Project Fi exclusive to Nexus 6 owners because the device supports a wide array of LTE networks. Users of other devices will have to wait, sadly.


Project Fi also only supports individual accounts at first, and there’s no support for family plans – for now, at least.

How To Sign Up


For the time being, Project Fi is an invite-only program — but you can get on the waiting list today! If you have a Nexus 6 and want to give Google’s network of networks a try, you can request an invite here.

What do you think about Project Fi? Do you want Google to become your wireless carrier? Would you consider switching when it’s publicly available? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!


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  1. Robert Lacour
    October 24, 2016 at 5:56 pm

    This plan is horrible, $10 per gig? and i have to use one of their phones? no thanks. With ringplus i get 6 gigs per months for zero per month as long as i dont go over those 6 gigs after that its $10 bucks a gig, same as google. I was with straight talk before ringplus and they had an unlimited option for $45 a month. Conclusion= googles project Fi is not the best plan.

  2. Anonymous
    July 1, 2015 at 6:10 am

    I've been using it for about 2 weeks now. I switched to it from AT&Ts $45 pay as you go/ no-contract deal, with a Xiaomi Mi-2 phone . That was limited to like 2 or 2.5GB of data a month I think, unlimited talk/text. I rarely, if ever, came close to reaching my data limit.

    I had been wanting to get a new phone for a while, so the forced switch to Nexus6 wasn't a big deal. So far I'm pretty happy with the phone.

    Though my data usage has been a lot more so far. Like first day it downloaded like .5GB from google play over data, though I'm pretty sure I was home all that day and my wifi should've been picking it up. After 2 weeks I hit 2GB of data, which I wanted to limit myself to, or close to it. Other than the google play thing I've been doing more data intensive activities than I would've before; streaming netflix and music mostly.

    I haven't noticed the phone switch to available wifi as often as I was lead to believe. There was an unsecured wifi network in my office that I assumed it would go to, but it didn't until I forced it. And since I forced it, I don't get the benefit of the VPN encrypting my data. At least I think that's how it works.

    The LTE speeds haven't impressed me much either, though I've only tested it a few times. The FCC speed test app I was using ate 50Mb each time. My average LTE download speeds was around 5Mbps, 4Mbps up, ~140 latency. I'm assuming it's Sprint's network (this pretty much confirms it: I think I was getting around those speeds with AT&T's 3g.

    I'm not really complaining though, that's fast enough for my purposes, but the phone definitely isn't picking the best connection available. I used to have t-mobile, and they had great speeds in my area.

    It was mentioned that the two carriers are Spring and Verizon, that's incorrect. It's Sprint and T-Mobile. I'm pretty sure. Though I think Sprint and Verizon have some sort of roaming agreement that covers each others customers, not sure if that applies to Project Fi though. I wish I could connect to Verizon's networks.

    Anyways, just my thoughts on Google's latest experiment. Overall I'm happy with it. I've had a few issues and brought them to tech supports attention and got pretty quick responses. I'd recommend it.

  3. Anonymous
    June 30, 2015 at 12:04 am

    I’m no longer conserving my breath – dwelling in a rural place of britain our communications are truely primitive. No fibre – best the odd promise that it may be a opportunity at some point within the future, and the promised speeds then are already gradual speeds and, by the point we get them (if…) the speeds may be so low in contrast with what every person else has that it'll be just like the difference between cable and copper wire all all over again.

    No matter living in one of the maximum civilised international locations on this planet (ha, ha, ha…), in case you live in very rural England you are unexpectedly turning into disenfranchised. Once I sign up for surely some thing now, it’s mandatory to give your cell variety – after which, whatever you do, the enterprise concerned uses that as a way of contact. So I leave out all their messages and facts and spend a massive chunk of my lifestyles chasing records (wherein is my parcel? Whilst is my meals transport arriving? Has my account been registered yet?) and seeking to save you its being sent, over again, to my cellular once I don’t have any connection at domestic. As i'm one of the original teleworkers, an early adopter of the concept that if you’re working along with your mind it’s no longer realistic to transport your body across the u . S . A ., this case is ridiculous.

    So I don’t have a smartphone and it looks like I received’t be getting one in the close to or even mid future. If I exit of my domestic/workplace then I take my ultraportable with me – on which i will do all of the matters I couldn’t do on a cellphone anyway. I exploit a PAYG dongle for connectivity (even within the nearest town the insurance is patchy – and that i want two SIM playing cards in my ‘rugged’ cell simply to make sure reasonably complete insurance in the nearest city).

    I’ve continually been extra than happy with new technology (teetering on the edge of geekiness) and that i eagerly examine approximately new ventures which include this one from Google – but until the British authorities wakes up to now, I’m an increasing number of stuck in the beyond, not to mention going into the future.

  4. Anonymous
    June 29, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    "How Google is Trying to Free You From Your Cell Phone Plan"
    Free you from YOUR cell phone plan and ensnare you into THEIR phone plan. NO, THANKS!

    • Anonymous
      June 30, 2015 at 2:19 pm

      I wouldn't really call a no-contract plan 'ensnarement'. What do you do for mobile service if you don't accept the idea of a phone plan?

  5. Anonymous
    June 27, 2015 at 6:51 pm

    "In face, you’ll be asked to either use or throw out your Google Voice number when you sign up."

    Not exactly sure what this means, please clarify.

  6. Anonymous
    June 26, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    HMMM. My first concern is, they've partnered with Sprint! Second, hmm, Sprint tried you buy T-Mobile IN 2014!
    Third, this would be a great plan for people with laptops, desktops.. But it seems it's more geared for cellphones only, in fact, NEXUS 6. GOOGLE, I WOULD LOVE TO BE PART OF THIS BUT, UNLESS YOU'RE GIVING ME A NEXUS 6, I'M NOT ON BOARD NOR THE REST OF US ANYTIME SOON. BOY, THE PEOPLE YOU'RE MISSING OUT ON!

    • Brad Merrill
      July 1, 2015 at 1:19 am

      The Nexus 6 thing is just for super-early adopters, though — I imagine they'll roll it out to all devices before too long.

  7. Anonymous
    June 26, 2015 at 11:16 am

    I'm not holding my breath - living in a rural area of England our communications are truly primitive. No fibre - only the odd promise that it may be a possibility at some point in the future, and the promised speeds then are already slow speeds and, by the time we get them (if...) the speeds will be so low in comparison with what everyone else has that it will be like the difference between cable and copper wire all over again.

    Despite living in one of the most civilised countries on earth (ha, ha, ha...), if you live in very rural England you are rapidly becoming disenfranchised. When I sign up for virtually anything now, it's mandatory to give your mobile number - and then, whatever you do, the company concerned uses that as a method of contact. So I miss all their messages and information and spend a large chunk of my life chasing information (Where is my parcel? When is my food delivery arriving? Has my account been registered yet?) and trying to prevent its being sent, yet again, to my mobile when I don't have any connection at home. As I am one of the original teleworkers, an early adopter of the idea that if you're working with your brain it's not sensible to move your body around the country, this situation is ridiculous.

    So I don't have a smartphone and it looks as if I won't be getting one in the near or even mid future. If I go out of my home/office then I take my ultraportable with me - on which I can do all the things I couldn't do on a smartphone anyway. I use a PAYG dongle for connectivity (even in the nearest town the coverage is patchy - and I need two SIM cards in my 'rugged' mobile just to ensure reasonably full coverage in the nearest city).

    I've always been more than happy with new technology (teetering on the edge of geekiness) and I eagerly read about new ventures such as this one from Google - but until the British Government wakes up to now, I'm increasingly stuck in the past, let alone going into the future.

    • Brad Merrill
      June 26, 2015 at 9:05 pm

      Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts, Maryon! We actually just covered the plans by Elon Musk and Greg Wyler to bring satellite Internet to rural areas and developing countries: [Broken Link Removed] I wonder if one of those projects will end up improving your situation?

      • Anonymous
        June 27, 2015 at 12:24 am

        Sadly, Brad, to use a hackneyed expression: 'Been there, done that'. I signed up for the first available satellite provision here - and it was a disaster. The 'latency' (aka 'lag') in reality meant that the extremely expensive satellite broadband was actually slower than the best possible provision over copper wire. I had the installation taken away again under the 'Not fit for purpose' provision under English consumer law, which tells you everything...

        I'm with Andrews & Arnold (AAISP) who squeeze every last drop of functionality out of our swaying-in-the-wind overhead copper wires. These people are amazing - if it takes state-of-the-art technical knowledge to implement a tweak/upgrade then they're on to it; if they think physically moving something from one place to another might help, they flex their muscles and push it there; they just do it.

        So I get by - but it's a wing and a prayer business rather than what it should be: a flagship telling the world that England is responding, adapting, and still the right up there with the best; sadly, it isn't.

  8. Anonymous
    June 26, 2015 at 7:08 am

    I would certainly be interested!
    My number is +27 82 565 4040

  9. Anonymous
    June 25, 2015 at 8:31 pm

    Republic Wireless is doing this now, but doing it better. You pay a flat rate for unlimited data, long distance and texts. The top rate is $25 a month for 4G. I pay $20 a month for 3G. If you just want phone service, you only pay $5 a month. There is no contract, no penalty for cancellation, you can switch back and forth between their various plans any time at no cost. When there is no WiFi service, the phone runs on the Sprint network. Google is going to have to do a lot better to entice me to switch.

    • Brad Merrill
      June 26, 2015 at 9:25 pm

      Interesting - thanks for sharing, Shawn! I do have to wonder whether bouncing between Sprint and Verizon will be a compelling enough case for Republic's customers to switch.

  10. Anonymous
    June 25, 2015 at 2:27 am

    Been using it for weeks now. There are still bugs to iron out but overall it's a unique approach. Biggest change is being data (cellular) conscious especially if your current provider or plan has unlimited data.

    • Brad Merrill
      June 25, 2015 at 8:14 pm

      Interesting - thanks for stopping by and sharing!

  11. Anonymous
    June 24, 2015 at 11:06 pm

    When (if?) the project comes to the UK, I'd absolutely sign up!

    • Brad Merrill
      June 25, 2015 at 8:14 pm