Google’s empire has expanded into the wireless business.
The search giant launched a new service yesterday (April 22) into the market called Project Fi, a wireless service that enables customers to pay only for the data they use on a monthly basis. In a heavily competitive environment with AT&T and Verizon leading the way, Google must prove itself against some established players, but Google believes it’s bringing a “new way to say hello” to the wireless carrier market. And it’s got Sprint and T-Mobile on its side.
According to Google’s blog post, here’s how the service works: “Similar to our Nexus hardware program, Project Fi enables us to work in close partnership with leading carriers, hardware makers, and all of you to push the boundaries of what’s possible. By designing across hardware, software and connectivity, we can more fully explore new ways for people to connect and communicate. Two of the top mobile networks in the U.S.—Sprint and T-Mobile— are partnering with us to launch Project Fi.”
So what does Project Fi entail? Consumers can get basic services (talk, text, Wi-Fi tethering, and international coverage) for $20 a month. Then, consumers are charged a flat $10 per GB for cellular data while in the U.S. and abroad. For those who may think they need more data but only use some of it, Google pays back its customers with the unused data for that month.
While it sounds like Google might have just taken its next big step into the mobile world, there’s still one hitch: The service, at least to start, only works on Google’s Nexus 6 phone. The service will tap into Sprint and T-Mobile, and will have the ability to switch between carriers, depending on which is strongest in the region. Google also said that the phone will automatically pick up Wi-Fi hot spots when available to keep the user off network data. Even during a middle of a call if a signal is weak, Google said it will search for whichever of its carrier partners has the best signal.
“Project Fi aims to put you on the best network wherever you go. As you move around, the best network for you might be a Wi-Fi hotspot or a specific 4G LTE network. We developed new technology that gives you better coverage by intelligently connecting you to the fastest available network at your location whether it’s Wi-Fi or one of our two partner LTE networks,” read Google’s blog post.