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Google’s Project Fi – Two Years In

What is Project Fi?

For those of you that haven’t heard of Project Fi before, I’m pleased to inform you about this product that Google offers.  Project Fi is Google’s MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) and Project Fi offers users nationwide cellular coverage in the US and free roaming abroad.

How does this work?

Google partners with several cellular providers to offer you the best signal for the area that you happen to be in at that time.  Project Fi’s cellular partners are T-Mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular.  Project Fi also relies heavily on WiFi by routing calls and data (obviously) through your WiFi connection when you are on a WiFi connection.   Your phone seamlessly switches between one of the carrier signals and WiFi to provide continuous service.

What about coverage?

You can check the coverage map for yourself (Project Fi Coverage) and see if you’ll be covered, chances are extremely high that coverage will not be an issue.  Take it from me, I go deep in the woods from time to time and always have a cell signal.  I recently went on vacation to Colorado and noticed in the far North Texas that I did not have a signal, this was so out of the ordinary that it stuck with me where I was when I this happen!  (Childress, TX if you want to find it on a map (don’t blink))

Can I use my current phone?

The answer to that is maybe but probably not.  To make the magical network switching work seamlessly, as I mentioned above, you’ll need to be on one of Project Fi’s approved phone list.  Here are the phones that are currently supported on Project Fi:  Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, and Nexus 6.   Each of these phones support both GSM and CDMA networks and Project Fi has approved them to be supported on the network.

How much does this service cost?

Service starts at $20/month for Project Fi Basics – it includes unlimited domestic talk and text, unlimited international texts, Wi-Fi tethering to use your phone as a hotspot, and access cellular coverage in 135+ countries and destinations.  However data is extra and it’s $10/Gigabyte.  This is not the cheapest plan on the market datawise but Project Fi is constantly attempting to connect you to WiFi and any data you use there is not counted against your data usage on your Project Fi bill.

Here is the best part about Project Fi’s data cost – you are NOT buying it by the Gigabyte, you literally pay one cent per Megabyte, that’s $0.01/MB.  Project Fi is a pre-paid service, so if you budget to use 2 GB/month, your bill would be $20 for basic service + $20 for data + Taxes and regulatory fees (mine are $3.98/month).  That would be a total of $43.98 for the month.

What about going over  your budgeted data?  Or not using all of your data?

Hold onto your pants here!  Remember how I told you that you pay $0.01/MB, if you go over you are NOT buying another GB of data, you are paying $0.01/MB that you used over the amount you have budgeted.  So if you go over by 1 MB, then your bill goes us $0.01!  Isn’t that AWESOME!

But wait, it gets even better.  Suppose you didn’t use all of your data, what happens to the unused data?  It’s not stored in a bucket for you to never use in the future.  It’s not lost and money wasted.  Are you ready to know what happens?  You get that money credited back to your account.  Refunded if you will.  Seriously, I’m not making this up, look at this picture of one of my bills –

You thought I was lying didn’t you!  Shame on you.  You do see the line that says Unused data – Credit for 0.408 GB at $10/GB ($4.09).  My bill that month was $39.89, that was the total.  I’m the first to admit that $10/GB is not the cheapest plan but I’ve learned to live with it as I’m on WiFi almost all of the time and for the times I’m not I’m cognizant of this and try to not do things like stream YouTube or NetFlix.

Pluses for Project Fi

  • Excellent coverage
  • International Roaming
  • Easy to use
  • Seamless switching between services

Minuses for Project Fi

  • Phone selection
  • Data costs

Should you use Project Fi?

I’ve been on Project Fi for two years now and I really don’t even think about my phone coverage any longer.  I am cognizant of my data usage when I’m not in a WiFi area but I work in an office that has WiFi, I have great WiFi at home and usually if I’m going somewhere and want to use my phone for music or podcasts I have them downloaded and I don’t stream anything.  I highly recommend Project Fi and think you should give it a try.

Finally here is my shameless plug, if you sign up please do so with my sign up link so I can get a credit from you! Project Fi Signup


Thanks for reading!


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