As rumored for months, Google today announced its new cell phone service. At first glance, it looks good and is very low-priced compared to the major U.S. cell phone providers. However, a comparison shows that several of the low-cost cellular providers already offer better deals.
Google’s new cell phone service, called Project Fi, is not yet available to everyone. It is available only in an invitation-only basis. Next, it works only on Google’s (expensive) Nexus 6 Android phone. It will not work with any other cell phone. Service will be made available through both the Sprint and T-Mobile networks.
The big advantage of Project Fi is that it marries together normal cell phone networks and wi-fi networks. When you’re connected to wi-fi, for example, all of your voice and data activities will use that network. If you are not in range of a wi-fi network, the software in the cell phone automatically switches the call and data to Sprint’s and T-Mobile’s networks. The service costs $20 per month for unlimited voice minutes. If you want data, you will be charged an additional $10 per gigabyte that you use.
In other words, it works just like the cheaper cell phone service that Republic Wireless has offered for more than two years now.
Disclaimer: I have been using Republic Wireless’s cell phone service for about two years and love it. I usually pay $10 a month for the service but occasionally upgrade to $25/month for a week or two when traveling and expect to use the wireless data plan frequently. When I return home, I then “downgrade” to $10/month again.
There is one unique difference with Project Fi: your Project Fi phone number “lives in the cloud.” That allows you to use a phone, tablet or browser with Project Fi and have conversations regardless of the device you’re using. That sounds like Google Voice.
I often try out new products and services when announced but think I will pass on Google’s Project Fi. It is more expensive than the service I am already using and am pleased with.
If you already have a Nexus 6 handset and want to give Project Fi a try, you can request an invitation at http://fi.google.com.
You can learn more about Google’s Project Fi at http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2015/04/project-fi.html.