Google seems to be involved in almost everything these days with its recent foray being into wireless network services, a project aimed at rivaling some out of favor carrier plans. Similar to Google Fiber which was launched back in 2010 to help distribute low-cost internet in some regions where cable companies had established a pseudo-monopoly, the search giant believes Project Fi is a modern network carrier service that makes the most sense.
The project begun in 2015 although as an invite-based pilot for some time until recently when the company felt it was market-ready. So what is in it for you?
The Modern Service
Google’s Project Fi is highly extolled for the fact that it follows the Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) approach which employs various carrier infrastructures to help you get the best of multiple worlds. In the United States for example, Google has partnered with T-Mobile and Sprint to use their cell towers to provide users with comprehensive connectivity.
It should be noted, however, that the routing of calls through carrier networks is mainly just a backup to the VOIP/Wi-Fi calling mode which Google is trying to capitalize on.
The service does not bind you to any contracts although you will need a specific sim card from Google which also supports porting of numbers. The search giant will basically be the middleman between carriers and customers and even though the phone will be hoping between carrier networks and Wi-Fi hotspots, you will only be dealing with Google.
With Fi, you also get the promise of Google encryption and seamless call toss across LTE/4G and Wi-Fi such that by default the calls are switched to the best available network.
Value for Money
Project Fi is ideally meant to provide mobile services directly to the users such that you get an alternative to the normally fixed and unattractive carrier contracts. In terms of pricing, Google brings to the table an offer of $20 (KES 2000) per month for talk, text and tethering internationally in more than 120 countries while also providing you with data at an additional cost of $10 (KES 1000) per Gigabyte per month.
This means that if you were to subscribe to a plan with 2GB of data you would need fork $40 (KES 4000) per month and in case you do not exhaust your data, you will get refunded what is owed to you.
The project also considers the increasing number of people who actually do not use the “phone” capabilities of their smartphones. These users get data only services which could be very appealing especially to those inclined to Skype, Viber, Whatsapp and other VoIP solutions.
The billing information is provided to the user via the Fi app which details the prior bills together with the usage information while also providing links to 24/7 email and call support.
How to Join
Previously, Project Fi had only been accessible to a select few users but after 10 months of exclusivity Google decided to open it to the public. That being said, you do not need any invitation to join the bandwagon, although you will need to be an Android faithful for now and an owner of a select Nexus devices which include the 5X by LG, the 6P by Hauwei and the Nexus 6 by Motorola.
Although Google has not made any mention of expanding the service, it is pretty obvious that as the project grows and if the reception is good, then there are chances that Fi could be extended to other droids and even the iPhone.
Google has its hands in many pots and tends to take the biggest share of the pie wherever its sets up accordingly. With that in mind, traditional wireless carriers can be in for a challenge in terms of affordability and flexibility.
Even so, since Google needs to partner with the carriers for the success of this service, the latter will still have the upper hand in deciding whether or not the deal is favorable for them. All in all, whatever the outcome of the shakeup, the users are bound to be the beneficiaries.