As expected, Google is launching its own wireless network called Project Fi. And as expected, it’s designed as a way for Google to explore new ways to deliver voice and data.

Project Fi uses both WiFi and 4G LTE so that your phone will take advantage of the wireless network best suited to the task when you’re making a call or connecting to the internet.

project fi

How much does it cost?

Project Fi prices start at $20 per month for talk, text, WiFi tethering, and international calling in more than 120 countries. Need to use cellular data? It’s available in increments of $10 per GB. But Google will pay you back for unused data.

For example, if you pay $40 for basic service plus 2GB of data, but only use 500MB, Google will credit $15GB to your next month’s bill.

If you exceed the amount of data you sign up for, Google will simply charge you the same $10 per GB rate. Go over by 500MB and Google will add $5 to your bill.

Phone calls and text message sent over WiFi are free if you’re roaming in one of the 120+ supported countries, while calls placed over a cellular network will be billed at $0.20 per minute. You can also use data in those countries without paying extra… but speeds may be severely restricted.

There’s no annual service contract, so you can leave Project Fi at any time without paying any termination fees. At least during the Early Access Program there are also no family plan discounts.

How do I sign up?

Here’s the catch (sort of): Project Fi will be a very limited service at launch. You’ll need a Google Nexus 6 smartphone to sign up, and you’ll need to request an invitation for the Project Fi Early Access program.

Coverage is also limited to North America for now, with best coverage in the United States.

Google says the Nexus 6 is the first smartphone to support Project Fi multi-network SIM cards. So while the company isn’t ruling out the possibility of expanding its network to work with additional phones in the future, it’s unclear if any existing handsets will be supported.

During the “Early Access Program” the Nexus 6 will be the only phone that’s supported though.

Want to buy a new Nexus 6? It’ll cost $649 ore more — the same price you’d pay if you were using the phone on a different network. Want to pay for it over 24 months? Google offers an option to make monthly payments of $27.04 for a 32GB model or $29.12 for a 64GB version.

Existing Nexus 6 owners can simply opt for a free SIM card which can be popped into their phone.

How does it work?

Google has partnered with Sprint and T-Mobile to deliver 4G cellular service: your phone will automatically connect to whichever network is stronger.

But when you’re at home, work, or another location where WiFi is available your phone will use that network instead. And Project Fi can automatically connect to more than a million free, open WiFi hotspots across the US.

Say you make a call over WiFi and you want to keep talking when you leave the hotspot? Project Fi should seamlessly move the call to a cellular network so that there’s no interruption.

Want to take a phone call on your laptop or tablet? Project Fi uses a Google Voice-like system for managing your phone number. You can associate a single number with multiple devices. This lets you make calls or send text messages from nearly any phone as well as from other types of computers.

Google says the multi-device feature is managed through Google Hangouts, and it’s opt-in.

Oh, and unlike most Google services, this one comes with support: Google says Project Fi subscriptions include 24/7 support.

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19 replies on “Project Fi: Google launches an unusual wireless phone service”

  1. If I want Fi Basics for $20/month and the NEXUS 6 phone (I don’t own one now?,could I get the NEXUS 6 and the Fi Basics for $20/month how much will I have to pay monthly for the phone plus the plan?.. thanks for answer

  2. $10 per Gigabyte? Who is going to pay that?
    I guess Google does not want you to visit Youtube, Facebook or use Navigation on that plan, unless you work for Goldman Sachs and light your crack pipe with hundred dollar bills

    I get 800 MB per day for $12 a month (equating to ~50 cents per GB) . No extra charges either, if I reach the daily 800MB, they’ll just throttle my speed to 15Kbps until the clock hits 12 midnight.

    And its just LTE, no sketchy WiFi hotspots needed to reach that price.

    Calls are charged separately – with various options for that, I just use the pay-as-you-call, since I don’t talk on the phone that much. I even forgot how much that exactly is per minute, but it wasn’t any more than anyone else.

    I won’t be asking for an invite, that much is sure…

  3. This plan makes more sense for those who travel internationally.
    It’s copied elements of T-Mobile’s international features, such as
    unlimited international SMS, and beats T-Mo’s 200 MB/month of
    free 3G international data by offering international data at the same
    $10/GB of US data. T-Mo also offers free talk and text over WiFi
    via selected phones.

    Too bad the phone doesn’t have dual SIM slots. If it did, you could pop
    a local SIM for whatever country you were in, so you’d only need 1
    device (with apologies to Hillary).

    Within the US, there are cheaper and better alternatives, such as
    Republic Wireless.

  4. Hey Google, can you hear me now!?… Yes my Son, I can hear you! I am always listening to what you say….

  5. I like it, Project Fi will be very useful and will let our smartphones take advantage of the wireless network in a better way.

  6. 5 phones, unlimited talk and text and 2.5 GB 4glte with cricket on the att network for $100 a month period!

  7. wow no thanks …I’ll just stick with my unlimited MetroPCS for $50

  8. My concern would be how aggressively it’s going to connect to open WiFi hotspots, how secure those hotspots will be, and whether the hotspot will see any unencrypted traffic.

    1. I think the plan is to use plenty of WiFi connection points where possible to stay off the relative expensive to operate over leased cellular capacity (remember Google is essentially a mobile Virtual network operator, or “MVNO” here). Of-course Google will want to own and control as many of these WiFi access points as possible. So if that happens, you can be sure everything you do will be spied on by Google and anyone else Google wants to let spy on you too (ahem – NSA?).

      1. And the evidence for your claim that Google “wants” the NSA to spy on you is what, exactly?

        BTW: The metadata of all your calls is just as valuable to AT&T and other carriers as it will be to Google.

        1. I never said Google “wants” (quotes are yours, not mine) the NSA to spy on us. But we now know Google (and to be fair, other carriers and ISPs) were “intimidated” into allowing the NSA access to their data, and complied to some extent. Some have pulled back from this position, but it is not clear to me who and how much.

  9. maybe they can eventually connect to multiple networks at the same time.

    Hopefully we get off the per GB structure at some point.

  10. still can’t compare to T-mobile’s $30 (taxes included) for 100min, 5GB LTE / unlimited data
    if they removed the $20 entrance fee and only charged for data, then it’s competitive.

    1. 100 minutes a month can’t really be compared to an unlimited talk plan. Some people I know get through 100 minutes in less than a day. The T-Mobile plan is great for “mostly data” users who want to make the occasional phone call, but for many others, this Google plan will work out to be cheaper. (And yes, you can use Google Voice if you want more minutes, but most users just want a phone and plan that works “out of the box.”)

      For me, the international angle is very attractive. Being able to call overseas for little to no money as well as making calls while overseas without breaking the bank could worth it. I think Cricket Wireless with their international boost is still a little cheaper, but only because their rates don’t include the cost of a top-end phone like the Nexus 6.

      It’s a competitive price, but like any plan, it depends on your usage patterns.

      1. oh i agree it depends on usage patterns. Google Voice is like converting data to minutes, and if people want to have something that works out of the box without simple setting up, the difference in price is what they pay for for the convenience.
        If you like to call overseas (while being in the US), you can use Google Voice for that too. I do it all the time. If you are calling while being overseas, then yes, the Google Fi is a pretty good deal.

  11. Just applied for an invite. Software Defined Networking is a hot topic in the Enterprise and Data Center spheres. Looks like Google is applying it to mobile phone service. It takes on Apple’s “Continuity” features too with calls and texts routing to computers.

  12. I wonder how much better coverage would be with T-Mobile and Sprint, as opposed to either one by itself? My guess would be not that much better, at least in rural areas. Probably a lot better in urban areas.

  13. So as expected stupidly high data prices but that’s not their fault.
    20$ for voice and SMS is way high too and they should have tried to do much better.

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