One of the nifty things about Google’s Project Fi wireless network is that the company doesn’t charge anything extra for tethering, so if you want to use your Android smartphone as a mobile hotspot, you can do that. But if you’d rather not run down your phone’s battery to keep your tablet or notebook online, Google also provides another option: a data-only SIM card.
Note that this perk is only available to customers who are already paying Project Fi customers. Your SIM card will be linked to your account and any data you use will be added to your bill. You can’t buy a data-only SIM instead of a voice and data SIM. It’s an add-on, not a replacement.
Customers can login to the Project Fi website, choose the Manage Plan option, and click the option for “Add data-only SIM” to request one. Google will send it to you for free. You don’t even have to pay for shipping.
But what do you do once it arrives?
If you have an Android tablet (or phone), all you have to do is follow the instructions that come with the SIM card to activate it (which involves typing a code into fi.google.com/data), then insert the SIM card and it should be detected and start working in a few moments.
Have an iPad or iPhone that you want to turn into a data-only cellular device? Activate the SIM, insert it in your device, open the Settings app, go to the Cellular Data option, and find the APN Settings. Enter “h2g2” for the APN (without the quotes).
The steps are similar if you want to use a computer… but you may have to jump through a few hoops to find the settings. So here’s a step-by-step guide for how I activated and configured a Windows 10 laptop to work with a Project Fi data-only SIM:
- Activate the SIM card.
- Insert the SIM card into your device.
- Open the Windows 10 Settings app.
- Select the Network and Internet option.
- Select the Cellular tab.
- Open the Advanced Options.
- Choose the “Add an APN” option under the APN settings header.
- Give the APN a name like “Project Fi” and enter “h2g2” for the APN (without quotes).
- Click the Save button.
Now you should be able to either connect manually or check the box that says “Let Windows manage this connection.”
You can also decide whether to let the computer automatically use cellular data when you’ve got an unreliable WiFi connection and/or you can restrict cellular data usage by Windows Store apps and Windows features running in the background or set data usage limits so you don’t run up your bill.
Project Fi charges $10 per GB of usage up to 6GB, and then lets you use up to 15GB of high-speed data for no additional charge before the network will start throttling your data speeds.
The carrier has been offering data-only SIMs for a while. If you’re wondering why I’m getting around to writing this today, it’s because Asus loaned me an Asus NovaGo Windows 10 convertible with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor and 4G LTE support to review.
In order to put all of the computer’s functionality to the test, I ordered my first data-only SIM… but when I inserted the SIM card and it wasn’t immediately recognized by Windows 10 it took me a while to figure out what APN I needed to use, where to enter it, and other steps. So I figured it would be helpful to put everything in one place.
In related news, stay tuned for more posts about the Asus NovaGo.