Antonio Villas-Boas/Tech InsiderI’ve been using Google’s Project Fi carrier service for a few weeks now, and I’m seriously impressed.
Project Fi uses T-Mobile and Sprint’s networks to provide wireless connectivity at all times, automatically switching between the two, as well as any available WiFi service around, depending on the signal strengths and data speeds.
There are two things that set Project Fi apart from the other well-established carriers: its pricing scheme, and the dynamic way it provides service.
Pay for what you use
The pricing is fair and straightforward, but it’s not dramatically different or less than what you’re currently paying your carrier: It’s $20 for the usual unlimited talk and text, then $10 per gigabyte (GB) of data you use per month.
So, if you use 3 GB of data, you pay $20 for talk and text, plus an extra $30 (3 x $10 per gigabyte). So your carrier bill is $50. That’s it.
You might have a similar $50 3 GB plan on your carrier, but your monthly bill is almost never the $50 it advertises because carriers almost always add fees and surcharges. Of course, they warn you that additional fees and charges apply to your monthly bill on top of your plan’s price, which is something we’re used to. But Google doesn’t do that.
On my AT&T bill with three people on a family plan, I pay an extra $29 per month from seemingly arbitrary fees and charges. Again, Google doesn’t do that.
And it gets better. Google only charges me for the exact amount of data I use in a billing cycle.
Say I’ve only used 2.4 GB by the end of my billing cycle in my Project Fi plan. Google will charge me for 3 GB (since I used more than 2 GB), but they’ll credit me $6 for the 0.6 GB that I didn’t use that month. That means I only pay $44 for that month.
The screenshot below was taken directly from Google’ Project Fi website:
ScreenshotAnd if you go over the data limit you chose at the beginning of the month, you’ll simply be charged $1 per 100 megabyte (MB) of data, just like Google credits you for each 100 MB of data you didn’t use. You won’t be charged any overage fees, and your speeds won’t speeds get throttled either.
Google Fi feels more fair than what most carriers do, which is charge a flat rate for allotted data each month, even if you don’t use all of it. And most carriers don’t carry over unused data, either.
But fair pricing doesn’t matter much if you can’t get good coverage or data speeds.
How’s the service?
Even though Project Fi uses T-Mobile and Sprint’s networks, I was thankfully getting similar signal strength and data speeds as AT&T, a much bigger network with wider coverage, wherever I went, including New York City and the outlying suburbs.
GoogleI was also was getting a solid data connection in places where I normally wouldn’t on AT&T. For example, I get full 4G signal on AT&T when I’m underground waiting for my commuter train to leave Grand Central, but I usually can’t load a web page or browse social media. I can’t even make a call, send a text, or message through Google Hangouts, even though it uses a minuscule amount of data. And you can forget about streaming music.
When I’m connected to either Sprint or T-Mobile on Project Fi, I’m able to do everything I can above ground in the same underground scenario. And the house I’m living in doesn’t get any reception from any carrier, but I can make calls using my Wi-Fi connection at home.
Of course, your overall experience depend on T-Mobile’s and Sprint’s coverage in your area. You can check Google’s Project Fi website to see if your area is covered.
And Project Fi is only available on just a handful of phones for now: Google’s Nexus 6X, Nexus 5X, and Nexus 6 smartphones support the service because their antennas are optimized to easily switch between T-Mobile’s GSM network and Sprint’s CDMA network.
Unfortunately, it’s not clear if Project Fi will be available on other smartphones in the future. But I certainly hope so.
Read the original article on Tech Insider. Follow Tech Insider on Facebook and Twitter. Copyright 2015.
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