Google announced yesterday that they are launching their own mobile network named Fi. The network will piggy back on T-Mobile and Sprint’s networks, switching to whichever one has a stronger signal at a given location. Calls can be made over Wi-Fi when available.
The basics (calls, texts, etc.) cost $20 a month and users can add data at a rate of $10/GB per month. However, the difference between Google’s Fi service and other service providers is that they will credit you back if you don’t use your purchase data. For example, if you start out with a 2 GB plan ($40) but end up only using 1.5 GB in that month, you get $5 back.
With Fi, Google is also providing unlimited texting when roaming in foreign countries and any data used while abroad will only count towards your monthly usage…no extra international roaming charges. Data outside the US will be limited to 256 Kbps (3G) and calls will cost 20 cents per minute.
This is essentially the same thing that T-Mobile currently offers, but Google’s Fi has two pretty major benefits:
- Since it piggy backs on both Sprint and T-Mobile’s network, it should theoretically have better coverage since Sprint can cover T-Mobile’s weak spots and vice versa.
- If you are not someone who uses a lot of data, or if your data usage changes from month to month, the fact that they credit you back for whatever data you don’t use is a big plus. No more guesstimating how much data you will use.
I currently have T-Mobile and love the fact that I can get free data and unlimited texts virtually everywhere I go (the Bahamas is the only notable exception I can think of). The data speed is indeed much slower when I am roaming, but for the basics, like checking e-mails, looking up addresses, using Maps, or requesting Uber, I have absolutely no problem. And it’s all for free!
There is one caveat…and it’s a big one. For the time being, Google Fi is only available to owners of Google’s Nexus 6 phone. Hopefully Fi expands quickly, allowing non Nexus 6 users to take advantage of the service.