Google Fi Wireless
Google Fi logo
TypeMobile data and voice service
Location
  • United States
  • Roaming in 200+ international destinations
ProtocolsGSM / UMTS / LTE / NR
UseWireless smartphone service
OwnerGoogle
OperatorT-Mobile
EstablishedApril 22, 2015; 9 years ago (2015-04-22)
Current statusOperational
Commercial?Yes
Websitefi.google.com

Google Fi Wireless (pronounced /f/), formerly Project Fi and Google Fi, is an American MVNO telecommunications service by Google that provides telephone calls, SMS, and mobile broadband using cellular networks and Wi-Fi. Google Fi uses the T-Mobile network. Google Fi is a service for US residents only, as of late 2023.[1]

The service was launched for the Nexus 6, by invitation only, on April 22, 2015. The service was opened to the public on March 7, 2016,[2] and made it work with additional device models, including the Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones, was introduced on October 4, 2016.[3] On November 28, 2018, Google rebranded Project Fi as Google Fi and made it work with more device models, including partially with iPhones.[4] In 2023, it was once again renamed Google Fi Wireless.[5]

History

Google Fi was announced exclusively for the Nexus 6 smartphone on April 22, 2015, on the Sprint and T-Mobile networks.[6][7][8][9] Because of high demand at launch, the service required that users receive invitations, which were gradually released throughout summer 2015.[10][11] The invitation system was dropped on March 7, 2016.[12][13][14] U.S. Cellular was added on June 8, 2016.[15][16][17] Three was added on July 12, 2016.[18][19][20] In October 2016, Google added the ability to use Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones,[21][22] and later introduced a Group Plan, letting subscribers add extra members to their plans.[23][24][25]

On January 17, 2018, Google Fi announced bill protection which caps the charge for data at $60. If the data used is greater than 15 GB, then Fi may slow the data speed to 256 kbit/s. The user can avoid the slowdown by paying full price for the data used at $10 per GB. Bill protection also works with group plans, with a maximum charge of $85 for two people, $120 for three people, and $140 for four people. The rate for unlimited calls and texting is not affected by bill protection.[citation needed] Google Fi later dropped US Cellular, leaving T-Mobile as the only network usable with it in the US. [26]

In February 2023, U.S. Cellular discontinued its partnership with Google Fi in a statement saying "We will no longer be an official network partner of Google Fi," US Cellular senior manager of media relations Katie Frey told CNET over email. "We value our relationship with Google, and we look forward to continuing our collaboration in other ways."[27]

Features

Prior to their merger, Google Fi Wireless automatically switched between the Sprint and T-Mobile networks depending on signal strength and speed.[28] It can automatically connect to open Wi-Fi hotspots while securing data with encryption through an automatic VPN.[29] Phone calls will seamlessly transition to a cellular network if Wi-Fi coverage is lost.[30][31][32][33]

Google Fi Wireless users could originally use the now defunct Google Hangouts on any phone, tablet, or computer to call and text.[34] Google Fi Wireless also implements VoLTE as part of a staged rollout.[35]

In addition to using a phone's physical SIM card, Google Fi now offers a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) option whereby the customer uses their current compatible phone (Google Pixel, Android or iPhone) using a eSIM (Embedded Sim) virtual card to establish Google Fi as a standalone service or in conjunction with another provider i.e. AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Mint etc... When a phone uses the DualSim the phone owner can make and receive telephone calls from either Google Fi or the other mobile provider simultaneously, but only one of the data service can be used at a time.[36]

In October 2021, Google Fi Wireless announced that it would allow end-to-end encrypted calls.[37]

Plans

Monthly plans start at $20 per month and are flat fee–based, paid at the beginning of each monthly billing cycle. All plans include unlimited calls and messaging. Money for unused data is credited back to the user's account, while overuse of data results in a charge of $10 per gigabyte.[38] When outside the United States, cellular phone calls cost $0.20 per minute, data costs the same $10 per gigabyte (i.e. there are no extra data charges outside of the US), and texting is free.[39] Data is free at full speeds between 6 GB and 15 GB for the duration of the billing cycle with Bill Protection. After 15 GB, data continues to be free but will be throttled to unspecified speeds.[40] A data-only SIM card can be used on tablets and other compatible devices, including the 2013 Nexus 7, Nexus 9, and iPad Air 2. The devices must be compatible with the T-Mobile network, and users can add up to 4 data-only SIM cards in one account (before July 2019 the limit was 9 data-only SIM cards in one account).[41][42][43]

A Group Plan, which allows users, referred to as "managers", to add other people, referred to as "members", to their subscription, costs an additional $15 per user. Group Plans let managers view data usage by member, set data notifications, add monthly allowances, and pause members' data usage. In June 2017, Group Plans were updated to feature "Group Repay", in which Google Fi Wireless automatically calculates each of the members' individual shares of the bill and allows for easy payments. Such payments can be a fixed amount, an individual's total usage, or only for data usage above the standard data allotment.[44][45][46]

Google Fi Wireless offers an 'Unlimited' Plan for its users for a flat rate of $70 per month with up to 50 GB of high speed data. After 50 GB, speeds are throttled to 256 kbit/s. On both plans, users can pay an additional $10 per 1 GB until their next billing cycle.[47] Fi's 'Unlimited' plan also includes 100 GB of Google One storage at no additional cost. It is important to note that Google Fi Wireless does not honor promotions for current Google Fi Wireless customers. This is not explained on promotional offers and many customers have noted that Google Fi Wireless has a history of assuring customers that promotional offers are valid, and the day after it expires, will email customers to let them know that they aren't eligible.

Reception

Nicole Lee of Engadget praised the service's plans, writing that "In the course of six months, I've barely touched my monthly 2 GB data allotment and frequently receive money back each month from unused data. I found myself paying a little more than $20 a month for Fi, which is the least I've paid for a cell phone service, ever." Lee liked the service's transition between Wi-Fi and cellular data.[48] JR Raphael of Computerworld also praised the pricing strategy and network transitions. Raphael also wrote that "Fi's customer support is [...] actually a pretty good experience", elaborating that "if you need extra help, both interfaces offer the ability to get 24/7 support from a real person via phone or email."[49]

See also

References

  1. ^ "Is Fi available to Canadian Consumers yet? If not is it possible to "roam" in Canada permanently? - Google Fi Help". support.google.com. Retrieved October 24, 2019.
  2. ^ "5 Things To Know About Google's Project Fi". Popular Science. March 7, 2016. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
  3. ^ Welch, Chris (October 4, 2016). "Google's Pixel phones will be available through Project Fi". The Verge. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
  4. ^ "Project Fi officially rebranded as 'Google Fi', now supports most Android phones and iPhones". Android Central. November 28, 2018. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
  5. ^ Weatherbed, Jess (April 19, 2023). "Google Fi has a new name and expanded connectivity support for smartwatches". The Verge. Archived from the original on April 19, 2023. Retrieved April 19, 2023.
  6. ^ Fox, Nick (April 22, 2015). "Say hi to Fi: A new way to say hello". Official Google Blog. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  7. ^ Welch, Chris (April 22, 2015). "Google launches its own mobile network for Nexus 6 owners". The Verge. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  8. ^ Huet, Ellen (April 22, 2015). "Google Unveils Its 'Project Fi' Wireless Service". Forbes. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  9. ^ Velazco, Chris (April 22, 2015). "Google's Project Fi service turns multiple phone networks into one". Engadget. AOL. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  10. ^ Byford, Sam (May 22, 2015). "Google's Project Fi invites won't roll out to everyone til mid-summer". The Verge. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  11. ^ Perez, Sarah (May 22, 2015). "Google's Project Fi Invites To Reach Everyone By Mid-Summer". TechCrunch. AOL. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  12. ^ Arscott, Simon (March 7, 2016). "From "Hi" to Fi to "Goodbye" to invites: 7 things we've learned about Project Fi". The Keyword Google Blog. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  13. ^ Fingas, Jon (March 7, 2016). "Google's Project Fi no longer requires an invitation to join". Engadget. AOL. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  14. ^ Lardinois, Frederic (March 7, 2016). "You can now sign up for Google's Project Fi cell service without an invite". TechCrunch. AOL. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  15. ^ Jacobs, Evan (June 8, 2016). "More speed and coverage with U.S. Cellular — now part of Project Fi". The Keyword Google Blog. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  16. ^ O'Kane, Sean (June 8, 2016). "Google adds US Cellular to Project Fi". The Verge. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  17. ^ Amadeo, Ron (June 8, 2016). "Google's Project Fi cell service adds US Cellular to the mix". Ars Technica. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  18. ^ Kugler, Tyler (July 12, 2016). "Stay connected abroad with high speed data from Project Fi". The Keyword Google Blog. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  19. ^ Miller, Paul (July 12, 2016). "Google adds Three network to Project Fi's family to improve international speeds". The Verge. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  20. ^ Amadeo, Ron (July 12, 2016). "Google's Project Fi gets international LTE, adds Three to carrier lineup". Ars Technica. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  21. ^ Reardon, Marguerite (October 4, 2016). "Google adds Pixel phones to Project Fi lineup". CNET. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  22. ^ Welch, Chris (October 4, 2016). "Google's Pixel phones will be available through Project Fi". The Verge. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  23. ^ Jung, Marcia (October 11, 2016). "Introducing Project Fi's group plan". The Keyword Google Blog. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  24. ^ Ingraham, Nathan (October 11, 2016). "Google's Project Fi now has family plans". Engadget. AOL. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  25. ^ Statt, Nick (October 11, 2016). "Google introduces group plans for its Project Fi mobile network". The Verge. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  26. ^ Nickolas Diaz (March 1, 2023). "Google Fi no longer uses US Cellular as part of its official network". Android Central. Retrieved March 1, 2023.
  27. ^ Lumb, D. (2023, March 1). Google Fi Ditches Another Mobile Network, Leaving Only T-Mobile. CNET. https://www.cnet.com/tech/mobile/google-fi-reportedly-drops-us-cellular-leaving-t-mobile-as-last-network/
  28. ^ Metz, Cade (May 1, 2016). "In the New Wireless Universe, You're Finally at the Center". Wired. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  29. ^ Lawler, Richard (August 24, 2016). "Google links Google Fi-approved WiFi hotspots to Nexus phones". Engadget. AOL. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  30. ^ Metz, Cade (July 12, 2016). "Google Fi Is One Step Closer to Unifying the World's Wireless Networks". Wired. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  31. ^ Fung, Brian (July 8, 2015). "Project Fi review: The most remarkable feature of Google's new cell service". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  32. ^ Martonik, Andrew (November 22, 2016). "What is Project Fi, how does it work and why do I want it?". Android Central. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  33. ^ El Akkad, Omar (November 23, 2015). "Why I ditched my cellphone carrier to try Google's Project Fi". The Globe and Mail. The Woodbridge Company. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  34. ^ "Use Hangouts with Project Fi". Project Fi Help. Google Inc. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  35. ^ "Project Fi currently testing VoLTE calling for 'subset' of subscribers". 9to5Google. February 18, 2017. Retrieved January 16, 2018.
  36. ^ Google Frequently Asked Questions (What is an eSim? (Retrieved 03 August 2023 from Google Fi website)
  37. ^ "Google Fi's adding support for end-to-end encrypted calls". Android Police. October 28, 2021. Retrieved October 29, 2021.
  38. ^ "Phone plans & prices". Project Fi. Retrieved April 29, 2021.
  39. ^ "Use your phone outside the U.S." Project Fi Help. Google Inc. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  40. ^ "Google Fi - Plan benefits & details". Meet Google Fi, a different kind of phone plan. Retrieved January 28, 2019.
  41. ^ "Use Project Fi with tablets & other compatible devices". Project Fi Help. Google Inc. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  42. ^ Reardon, Marguerite (December 15, 2015). "Google's experimental wireless service will work with tablets too". CNET. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  43. ^ Wang, Jules (July 25, 2019). "Google Fi is cracking down on data SIM hoarders limiting each account to 4". Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  44. ^ Deahl, Dani (June 20, 2017). "Project Fi now automatically calculates and bills each member of a group plan". The Verge. Vox media. Retrieved June 20, 2017.
  45. ^ Lardinois, Frederic (June 20, 2017). "Google makes splitting the cost of Project Fi group plans easier". TechCrunch. AOL. Retrieved June 20, 2017.
  46. ^ Protalinski, Emil (June 20, 2017). "Google's Project Fi now lets you split the bill". VentureBeat. Retrieved June 20, 2017.
  47. ^ "Use Google Fi with tablets & other compatible devices - Google Fi Help". support.google.com. Retrieved January 28, 2019.
  48. ^ Lee, Nicole (April 12, 2015). "After six months with Google's Project Fi, I'd switch to it if I could". Engadget. AOL. Retrieved April 21, 2017.
  49. ^ Raphael, JR (April 14, 2016). "Project Fi revisited: 6 months with Google's weird wireless service". Computerworld. International Data Group. Retrieved April 21, 2017.