It’s been a little more than a year since Google announced its foray into the world of mobile carriers with the introduction of Project Fi, a pay-as-you-go service that attempts to optimize call quality and security by routing calls via wifi when available. On March 7, 2016, Project Fi shed its invite-only access to allow anyone to sign up. Will this new service model signal the start of a change in direction for the mobile industry around the world, or will this be the next big flop?
Why Project Fi?
The primary benefit to draw customers is saving money. Service plans start at $20 per month, with $10/GB of data usage. Instead of getting locked into one carrier, Google Fi phones can switch between more than 20 carriers automatically. Compared with bills of $60 to $80 per month with other carriers, low data users will save a lot of money. Also, it’s just plain cool. As a promotion, Google sent new users a LEGO building blocks kit with instructions for a building a charging stand for their phones (see below).
Does it work?
Besides some complaints from Google Voice users, it has generally proved to be equal in quality with traditional services. One user interviewed described his experience as “smooth, no issues, no dropped calls”.
What are its drawbacks thus far?
The service only supports Nexus phones. Also a potential downside is that if wifi is not available or expensive in your area this model does not make sense.
Who should sign up for Project Fi?
If you are traveling to the U.S. often, it might be a good alternative to other pay-as-you-go options, as it provides stronger call and plan quality, as well as option to use your phone outside U.S. for a competitive rate. Plus, you do not need to switch SIM cards when you go between countries. Also for students studying abroad, as you will save considerable money over other traditional options that lock you into a long term plan.