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Google launches Project Fi mobile network

by Mark Tyson on 23 April 2015, 10:05

Tags: Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Sprint, T-Mobile (NYSE:DT)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qacqv5

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Google has, as expected, launched a new mobile network service in which it essentially operates as an MVNO. It will provide subscribers, who all pay a flat fee of $20, unlimited calls and texts with an additional $10 per GB of data. It runs off the back of the T-Mobile and Sprint networks as well as making use of Wi-Fi hotspots as and when available.

Google's aim with launching Project Fi is that communications and connectivity services "keep pace" with the advancements offered by our mobile devices and provide mobile services that are "fast everywhere, easy to use, and accessible to everyone." With mobile network switching between T-Mobile and Sprint in the USA, depending upon which is the fastest available and the auto connection to over a million Wi-Fi hotspots Google sounds pretty confident of shaking up the US mobile network industry.

Project Fi can use your Wi-Fi connection for calls and texts if no cellular connection is available. Another innovation is that "with Project Fi, your phone number lives in the cloud, so you can talk and text with your number on just about any phone, tablet or laptop." So if you are temporarily phoneless, for whatever reason, you could call and text on your tablet or computer – basically using any device which supports Google Hangouts.

As mentioned in the intro, Google is keeping it simple with a base plan costing $20pm which nets you talk, text, Wi-Fi tethering, and international coverage in 120+ countries. On top of that its $10 extra per GB of cellular data in the US and abroad. Unused data is 'refunded', so if you buy say 2GB for $20 but only use 500MB then you will get $15 credit back.

Now we come to the drawbacks... Firstly, right now you have to get an invite to sign up for the service. Secondly you will need to be a $649 Nexus 6 smartphone user as it is "the first (and only) smartphone that supports the hardware and software to work with our service".

I recently looked at US mobile phone contracts and PAYG and felt that the prices are pretty high. A USA Today report quotes industry analyst Roger Entner of Recon Analytics, he notes that Google is "clearly putting pressure on every other mobile carrier, even the ones they're partnering with." But the partners are holding back a few USPs, T-Mobile's HD Voice feature, for example.



HEXUS Forums :: 7 Comments

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Very interesting, this has the potential to really shake the market up.
It's a good idea, I love the fact you can have your number on any android device so you can be contacted on whatever you're using at the time.

However I don't like the pricing it's really poor. I know tmobile in America do unlimited data for $60 - 80, I expected Google to be focusing on the data cost but 10 dollars per gb is bad.


Hopefully if it comes to UK the price is better because I pay£15 on three for unlimited everything (5k fair usage of mins and text but no limit on data). Three told me I averaged at 15gb a month… That's $150 per month!
For talk/text, they are close to the bottom when it comes to price amongst all the players in the US. The data side is somewhat high to very high, especially when there are services out there that offer unlimited T/T/D for $49/month (albeit throttled after a certain amount).

Right now, the stake through the heart is the extreme limitation in hardware. I'm guessing it's going to take some rather specialized stuff to be able to jump through everything that Fi is going to support smoothly. 2 carriers, multiple connect options which are supposed to switch on the fly, and smoothly… all that adds up to expense, and not seeing any indication that Google is planning on offering phone subsidies/leasing.
For someone like me, who rarely uses data, this is perfect. I can get data if I want it (trips or something of the like) but I can have an extremely cheap talk/text plan. I, for one, love it. Also, most carriers don't allow you to use a smartphone with only talk/text (some data is almost always required) so that is also an added benefit. The cheapest plan with data I could find (including prepaid networks) was $35 a month for something like 500MB of low-speed data and a limited number of texts…
plexabit
For someone like me, who rarely uses data, this is perfect. I can get data if I want it (trips or something of the like) but I can have an extremely cheap talk/text plan. I, for one, love it. Also, most carriers don't allow you to use a smartphone with only talk/text (some data is almost always required) so that is also an added benefit. The cheapest plan with data I could find (including prepaid networks) was $35 a month for something like 500MB of low-speed data and a limited number of texts…

Straight Talk (Walmart) has 1500mins talk/unlimited text/100mb data for $30/month. The only reason this may be a better option is simply this - the choice of phones. Fi has one… Smart Talk has dozens, including the ability to bring your own. A couple of the pre-paids are somewhat on the shady side, with Trac-Fone actually having been found to be selling customer information illegally. But much like Google fiber, it's not something I expect to see in my area any time soon - as in never…