Google plans to launch its own wireless service this year. The company has tried to temper expectations by describing it as a small scale experiment aimed at finding ways for WiFi and cellular networks to work together seamlessly. But when the company that designs the software that runs on most of the world’s smartphones starts to talk about entering the wireless service space, people take notice.

So far Google hasn’t had much to say about it’s plans… but it’s possible that an Android app discovered in leaked firmware for the Google Nexus 6 smartphone might provide an awful lot of clues.

The folks at Android Police have dissected that app to see what secrets it holds.

fi logo

The app in question has a file name Tycho and seems to be for something called Project Fi. It’s likely that Google’s actual wireless service will be called something else, but there’s a nice little logo to go with the code-name Project Fi.

While it’s possible the app is some sort of elaborate hoax, or that it includes code for features that will not actually be part of the service, here are some of the things the app tells us (if it’s real):

  • Google will let you choose how much data you want per month, and you’ll get a refund at the month for unused data.
  • Go over your allowance? The price per gigabyte for overages is the same as if you had just signed up for a plan with more data in the first place.
  • Phone calls and text messages to US numbers are free. There are “low rates” for international calls, and there are provisions for international roaming.
  • You can have more than one line on your account, and there are also data-only options if you want to add a tablet to your phone plan, for example.
  • Have multiple phones? You can switch primary devices with the press of a button: no SIM card switching required.
  • Google’s wireless service will most likely be using Sprint and T-Mobile’s networks.

You’ll be able to pay your bill and manage your account from your phone using the “Tycho” app. And while it’s not yet clear if the rumors that the service would only be available to Nexus 6 users are true, the Nexus 6 is the only phone mentioned by name within the app’s code (there’s an option to buy a Nexus 6 and pay for it over time through monthly financing).

You can find more details (and analysis) at Android Police.

Support Liliputing

Liliputing's primary sources of revenue are advertising and affiliate links (if you click the "Shop" button at the top of the page and buy something on Amazon, for example, we'll get a small commission).

But there are several ways you can support the site directly even if you're using an ad blocker* and hate online shopping.

Contribute to our Patreon campaign


Contribute via PayPal

* If you are using an ad blocker like uBlock Origin and seeing a pop-up message at the bottom of the screen, we have a guide that may help you disable it.

Subscribe to Liliputing via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 9,506 other subscribers

8 replies on “Report: Leaked app provides clues about Google’s wireless service”

  1. You know what the press fails to do? The very basic thing of explaining to people what a MVNO is and how it all works.
    Lots of people are excited and expect a lot but they don’t get it that Google would just buy data from carriers at prices set by those carriers and those prices are very high. There is no chance in hell for cheap data as long as they depend on carriers. Google could only compete in features , not in pricing. The most they could do to reach better prices is focus more on wifi and even then, when they would start to be a problem for carriers those data prices would go up when it’s time for Google to renew the contract.
    This can’t be what everybody wants, it’s just Google playing around and trying to figure out what can be done.

    1. I think there a couple of ways to look at ‘cheap’, I use Ting and pay about $19 a month for around 1GB. The nice thing is I’m paying for the data I use, and not subsidizing someone using 10GB a month. My average bill, for three phones, is less than $60 a month. That also includes text and talk.

      1. lol you guys are proof that you fail to understand the mechanics.
        You also have no clue what cheap is, there is no reason for 1GB of data to be 10$ instead of 1$, except carrier’s greed.
        Carriers are charging MVNOs whatever they want for data, they are not suicidal ,they will never sell data to others cheap enough to hurt their own business.

        1. It is actually you who have no clue. Wireless data is never going to sell for the same price as wired. As fast as they rewrite the laws of physics and repurpose pretty much the entire EM spectrum to wireless data, the wired world is also improving their speeds. It is simply a fact that a wired link can deliver terrabytes per month for a few dollars and wireless simply can’t except when a network is first lit and there are few users. But the marketers have sold everyone on this insane notion we can all watch TV, on demand no less, on our phones on the subway if we want to and it won’t even break the bank. Not happening anytime soon here in the real world. What does happen is whatever bandwidth exists in an urban environment quickly fills to capacity and then the pricing model is wielded as a hammer to throttle it long enough to build out the next generation, repeat. Those willing and able to pay get the bandwidth, we call this the ‘free market.’ And the MVNOs suck hind teat behind the tower owner’s direct customers when things get into an overloaded condition, and again this is as it should be.

          Google will be able to get the absolute lowest rates and best contract terms because they will have a hammer no other MVNO has, the threat (and probably the actuality) of adding network nodes of their own in areas with high enough volume of Google customers.

    2. Republic Wireless is a Sprint MVNO that has unlimited talk and text on WiFi or cellular for $10 a month plus taxes and fees. Unlimited talk, text, and data on WiFi or 3G cellular is $25/month plus taxes and fees. Unlimited talk, text, and data on WiFi or 4G cellular is $40/month plus taxes and fees. Republic has had these prices for over a year now. Google has much better buying power and should be able to match or go below these prices.

      1. I am expecting Google to go much below Republic Wireless prices… what’s the point of starting a new company when it matches an existing price point? Google needs to stop the 2 year iphone refresh cycle… it will indirectly benefit them greatly.

  2. I was expecting it to be entirely pay-per-usage, but free national calls and txts sounds like they must have a monthly fee. This sounds amazingly disruptive… even if it does not generate a profit, it has to make iphone plans look like highway robbery (and bring more users away from Apple).

    1. Nope, looks like they are going to be bundling in a lease on a Nexus phone just like almost every iPhone is bundled into a lease plus service contract. And the hardware part is a pretty substantial part of the pricing so any difference in service rates will be muted in the bundle price. If they begin offering a SIM Card only plan, that could be disruptive if they were to promote those prices with gusto.

      If the masses ever understood and really internalized into their purchase decisions how much they are really paying for those ‘free’ (or $99) phones it would upset the entire market. But I doubt Google wants to do that, being interested in selling lots of expensive hardware in concert with their hardware partners.

Comments are closed.