Wednesday was an exciting day for wireless consumers and fans of Google projects. Google finally announced that it is launching Project Fi – its own wireless service. The service will switch seamlessly between existing Wi-Fi networks and carrier networks, using T-Mobile and Sprint networks when there is no Wi-Fi available.
While Project Fi is not a full fledged carrier network like the big 4 (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile & Sprint), they use an approach that is been around for a while with vendors like Scratch Wireless, FreedomPop and the recently announced Freewheel program from CableVision.
It follows the principle and belief that most people are connected to Wi-Fi networks for 80% of the day, whether they are at home, in the office or even at restaurants and bars. Traditional wireless services in the US are some of the most expensive in the world, and Project Fi tries to fix that problem.
The Fi Plan starts at $20 for the basics – unlimited domestic talk and text, unlimited international texts, Wi-Fi tethering and coverage in 120+ countries. Then its $10 per GB of data, so a 3GB plan will run you about $50. That said, a BIG difference between Project Fi and other carries is how the unused data is allocated. With a traditional cell phone plan, you would pay a certain amount for data and if you did not use all of it, it would just be lost, and you would just start a new cycle. However, with Project Fi, they will reimburse you any data that is not used for that cycle so you can roll it over the next month – similar to what T-Mobile does with its data-stash program.
Project Fi promises a bright future but at the moment its still in its infancy. It is only compatible with the Nexus 6 smartphone and you can get similar amounts of data for the same price with other MVNO’s and T-Mobile while keeping a traditional cellular service and your current phone. That said, the Wi-Fi model has a bright future with cost cutting on the consumers part. Cisco reports that at $10/GB, if 90% of mobile traffic went through Wi-Fi instead of cellular, consumers would be saving around $700 billion on their cell phone plans each year.