The big four carriers in the U.S. are Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint, however, they are not the only options available on the market.
Two years ago, Google Project Fi was born, coming in as a competitor to the four major names in the industry by offering just about the same services, but in a unique way that none of the four offers. Fi offers voice, data and SMS services and it only works with Google devices, but this won’t be for long. The carrier has a robust network that depends on three other carriers in the shape of T-Mobile, Sprint and U.S. Cellular, which means that it has a greater reach across the country, just like the other carriers.
Google Project Fi counts itself as the only carrier in the country that refunds you the data you don’t use, meaning that if you only use 2GB of data in a month on a 3GB plan, your account will be credited with the remaining 1GB during the next subscription. As noted, the carrier relies on the infrastructure of three other carriers, seamlessly switching between the trio depending on which network has the best signal strength from where you are currently seated.
As you can see from the name, Google Project Fi is still an ongoing experiment, which means that there’s still more to come. Usually, the service gets new features and benefits on a regular basis, making it even better as it aims to be the standout MVNO in the U.S.
Before making the decision to join Google Project Fi, here are the 5 most important things you should know about this service.
The four major carriers in the U.S. have a huge collection of devices that one can choose from, but with Google Project Fi, you are only limited to five phones. These are the Google Pixel and Pixel XL, Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X as well as Nexus 6. Before this year comes to a conclusion, a sixth device will be in place – the Moto X4.
The fact that Project Fi seamlessly switches between three networks as well as Wi-Fi hotspots in order to give you the best connection possible is the sole reason not all devices fit the bill as fully compatible devices.
The good side of the story is that Project Fi can work with more than just a smartphone, but the experience you get on other devices will not be the same as what the five Google devices offer. Using a data-only SIM card, you can also enjoy calling as well as texting features on some tablets, both from Android and iOS.
Those using tablets such as Nexus 7 and Nexus 7, Galaxy Tab S, iPad Pro, iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini can get a data-only SIM card and use it to access some Project Fi services. You can only add up to 9 data-only SIM cards to a single plan, though. Still, your tablet should be unlocked, support GSM and work with T-Mobile, which means that you won’t be able to take advantage of Sprint and U.S. Cellular networks.
Project Fi plans
Google Project Fi is your go-to carrier if you are looking for plain, simple pricing for phone and data plans. Of course, it’s not the cheapest network out there, but you can pay the least amount if you know how to play your cards well.
The carrier has a basic plan known as Fi Basics, where you get unlimited talk and text for $20 and an additional $10 earns you 1GB of monthly data. As noted earlier, money for unused data will be credited back to your account and in case of any overages, you’ll be charged $10 per GB of data.
The MVNO also supports group plans, where current account holders can add another five lines to the same plan at a cost of $15 per month per user. Group managers can view each member’s data usage, pause members’ data usage, set data notifications as well as add monthly allowances. In case you didn’t know, you can enjoy Project Fi services when visiting more than 135 countries across the globe.
When abroad, data charges remain at $10 per GB and calls are charged at 20 cents per minute. As for texting, you still enjoy the free package that is applicable when in the U.S.
Project Fi doesn’t support unlimited plans
If you are the kind who uses more than 4GB of data per month, you might be better off with other carriers such as Sprint or even T-Mobile. This is because you’ll end up paying more than what other carriers offer for unlimited plans yet you get a limited amount of data.
For instance, if you use 4GB of data per month, you data bill will be $40. Add the flat rate of $20 for phone calls and texts to this and your monthly bill will be $60. Sprint, for instance, has an unlimited data plan that costs $60 per month and adding $10 to this will earn you an unlimited plan on T-Mobile. Both plans will earn you much more data compared to the 4GB you get on Fi.
The good side of Project Fi
So, what’s really the good side of Google Project Fi? As it is, there is a number of good stuff you get from Fi. Among them is you’ll enjoy stable connections even when in the remotest areas of this country thanks to the seamless switching between networks and Wi-Fi hotspots. Furthermore, light data users will enjoy using Fi as they’ll end up saving more, especially if they have constant access to Wi-Fi hotspots.
The fact that Google Project Fi will still be available for use in more than 135 countries across the globe makes the service the best for regular travelers. Also, you can be able to tether the same data at no extra charge.
The bad side of Project Fi
As we all know, every good thing always has its bad side and Google Project Fi is no different. One major limitation of Fi is the number of devices that are fully compatible. Even though Google has plans to expand this list before the end of the year, it would be a welcome idea if users could bring their own devices to the carrier. Of course, Google says that the hardware required to seamlessly switch between the three networks and Wi-Fi hotspots is only limited to Google devices, which is the reason no other devices are fully supported on the carrier.
If you use larger amounts of data in a month, you’ll end up paying more than what you’d have to pay to earn an unlimited plan on the likes of T-Mobile, AT&T, Sprint or even Verizon. Also, the supported devices are quite costly, but the good side of the story is that you can have them on a 2-year contract.