Project Fi: Google’s Crack at Mobile Plans

Sometimes it seems like Google has to try to do everything at least once to see if they can do it well. I’ve been using Google’s Project Fi for about half a year now, and I love the service.

The Plan

Google’s Project Fi has only been available to the wider public for about ten months now, but it shows no signs of growing pains. Project Fi boasts an impressive amount of coverage and service for a rather low price. The Fi Basics plan provides its users with unlimited domestic calls and texts and unlimited international texts for $20/month. To me it provides a convenient way to stay in touch with my UK and European friends without resorting to Facebook or Whatsapp.

While calls to international numbers are not included in the plan, the rate which the Fi network charges is $0.01 per minute. Google has paired with three major cellular providers to piggyback off their networks, but have clearly done so in a way that Google still turns a profit, especially considering that they’ve opened the service to the general public.

Data is another part of the equation here though. I will say right now, that if you are someone that needs an unlimited plan and use over 5 gigs of data a month, perhaps Fi is not for you. Google does charge $10 per gigabyte of data used in a 30 day cycle, but you’ll end up using way less data than you think, which I’ll explain in a moment. I’ve chosen to only purchase one gig a month. This is not because I never use data, in fact I love to use my phone’s data plan to listen to podcasts, look up where I am when I’m lost, and to do on the go Duolingo lessons. No, I chose 1 gig a month because I heard about the Fi network’s clever feature.

Your Fi phone -currently the Pixel or Nexus series- will connect to any open wifi it can without asking your permission. While this may be alarming to some, the Fi Network automatically protects your data going in and out of the phone to that open WiFi via a VPN on your phone.

That’s right, you get your own Virtual Private Network to protect you. When your phone is connected to secure WiFi or securely connected to open WiFi, you are not using your data at all. Any unused data is rolled over to your next billing statement as a credit as well, so you do not have to pay for anything you do not have to use.

Customer Service and Transparency

I can be a worrier. So when I was not immediately -like within seconds- assigned a number after activating my Project Fi SIM card, I decided to see how the customer service was with Project Fi. I went to the “Support” tab on my account page and chose the live chat option. Within ten seconds I was on the line with one of Fi’s representatives who seemed cheery and happy to help. She was eager to help me find out why I had not yet received my number and within that time I had been assigned a number anyway.

Spare the rising embarrassment in my body, I had really enjoyed the experience. The representative was understanding and ready to help. I can’t say that I’ve often experienced that. Even the customer satisfaction survey was quick enough that I was not annoyed that I agreed to take it. Soon after, I had another slight panic over why my credit card had not seemed to have been charged for the phone I purchased through Fi. Another representative was just as helpful and kind. I’ve had nothing but good experiences with Fi’s customer service team.

I was also surprised by my bill statement, and not in the way many people are by their carriers. A google voice credit which I already had was applied to my bill and the section outlining taxes gave the option see these details. This is a level of transparency that has not been so readily accessible to me in my memory from a company. To the penny, I saw they various federal, state, and local taxes, fees, and maintenance costs. I realize that this may not be nearly as interesting to others as it to me, but this was just crazy. It was also staggering how much cheaper this line is for me, when I know many who pay at least twice as much for a single line.

My conclusion is that if your contract is coming up, consider Fi

If you liked this article, follow us on Twitter @themerklenews and make sure to subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest bitcoin, cryptocurrency, and technology news.

  • BenjamiBen

    Agreed! Been with Fi about 8 months now, it’s well worth it. I use about .4gb of data a month, making my bill about $28, which is perfect. Coverage is exceptional for what you pay for, customer service is responsive, helpful, and competent (insanely hard to find these days). Even had to go through warranty work through my Nexus 6P recently, it bricked itself. They did a quick troubleshoot with me, nothing worked, so I got my new device within 2 days. I plan on staying with these guys until if/when I end up needing more data.

  • Matt Browns

    “Data is another part of the equation here though. I will say right now, that if you are someone that needs and unlimited plan” that first and should be an “an.”

  • Bill P

    I agree. I have been using Project Fi for the past 22 months and I am very satisfied with their customer service and their price.

    I live in the Midwest and in the more rural areas coverage can be a little bit spotty but overall it has been acceptable.

    Another bonus is that you can pay for the phone over 24 months with no interest. And if you are okay with using a phone that is two years old, the one gigabyte per month plan will cost you under $35.

  • kevin park

    Another thing I don’t think was mentioned here is the international service. When traveling internationally, wifi calling is available in most countries. If that’s not the case, the data rate for most countries is exactly the same as it is in the US.

  • HappyInFolsom

    To help people that are not sure of the implications of this “use of wifi, not cellular data” idea, on your data usage, my figures for the last month on Fi are 845 MB of cellular (so my bill is $28.45 for the month) and 15.65 GB on wifi. I do have wifi at home and at work.

  • Sridhar Rajagopalan

    My experience with Project Fi wasn’t so good. Their customer service, billing transparency and app are great. The phone service in terms of quality of coverage (am in Tucson, Arizona) wasn’t so great. But mainly, with my data touching 2-3 GB on certain months, Fi was a bit expensive. Once I had a situation where they counted Wifi use as mobile data, and though they reversed it immediately, I became extra-careful about keeping data off at various times, which made if quite inconvenient..

  • John Aldrin

    Author should have mentioned the restricted caller ID. It’s very rare I know who is calling me

  • Dirk Diggler

    I’ve been with GoogleFi for the past year and absolutely love the service. I live in the woods and being able to connect to three different towers now gives me exceptional coverage. In the past I had Verizon and paid almost 4x the amount per month..glad to cut that cord. No contracts, no extra fees, no BS. Great job Google!

  • Robert Nasiadek

    You should mention that they also have $10/GB worldwide and charge by 1MB.

  • Matt Ziegler

    On a side note, when I travelled to China this last year I was able to access all of the normally blocked services, such as Facebook and Google Maps, with cellular data on my Fi plan.

  • Tim Reynolds

    What about non google phones? I don’t want to invest in another phone. Still enjoying my one plus 3.
    I’ll just stick with my $20/month 2gb data only plan with T-mobile. Not to mention the free Streaming which allows me to go way over my normal usage of 2 GB with no problems or slowdowns. Google voice helps get around the lack of voice service, without the restrictions of project fi.

    • pmdr

      Former Fi user here. The cost per GB with Fi is not competitive. I get a better deal direct from T-Mobile and likewise enjoy all the unmeasured data and the occasional free pizza.

      Anyway, non-supported phones will work but the Fi SIM has to be activated first on a supported device like a Nexus or Pixel and you will only get access to the T-Mobile network, not Sprint and US Cellular.

      Also, Fi could shut you down if they want to. I know of other people using iPhones and other things on Fi but there are no guarantees it will stay working.

  • Steve Waibel

    I just cancelled Fi today. Often I did not get texts people sent me and many times calls to my wife or I were met with “The Google Fi customer you are trying to reach is not available”

  • Connor Lindsay

    I use for and love it. Switched from Verizon who’s service was slightly better but not by much.

  • compote

    I was with Fi from the beginning. I finally switched to Att’s prepaid. A much better value. Unlimited talk and text + 6GB of data for $40 when you auto pay. This would cost me $80 on Fi. I use about 3 gigs a month so I was paying $50+ with Fi. Also my voice service is much better now.

  • Keith M

    As someone with very poor cell reception around my home Fi has been a godsend. Gone are the days of making 5 attempts to make any call, it just work off wifi without any problem. If any wants to use my referral code for $20 off its 5AK5CY.

  • CovertOps

    I highly recommend the service, as it actually combines two carriers in one. Plus you only pay for what you use. I’m saving money and generally have better service. The only drawback is that it is only good for certain kinds of phones.

    You can get $20 off by using this referral code – EHA1HY

  • I’ve used Fi since the first day it was available. I really like it. I have Wi-Fi at home, work, and most places I go regularly and end up using only 1.5 – 3GB of data most months, keeping my bill between $35-50 month which is much cheaper than using Verizon or most other providers. I really like the free VPN service that Fi uses when connecting to public wi-fi.

  • Murray

    I cancelled my FI account , after almost 2 years , from when it was first anounced. This issue was that I is no longer competitive, att and T-Mobile have much better deals now, not to mention network accessibility.

    Traveling over seas was awesome, price wise, ..But wasn’t enough to keep service here.

    If they had gone to free media streaming…It would have been able to keep me.

  • Rod Miller

    Tried it and it’s a joke i switched back to VZW.

    • Plasiu

      I agree ,it is joke I got the some,service is horrible

  • chris

    I love Fi. I’m a data miser, only using a half GB of data tops each month. There’s WiFi everywhere and I just don’t need unlimited, or even copious data. $30/month after taxes and fees? I’ll take it! Notably I live in the KC area, so service quality is never an issue.

  • justsaying

    I have on my phone, Nexus 6p. Unfortunately my wife has an LG v20 and it is not supported. If they expanded phone support, many more would join.

    • Tav-El

      They can’t extend phone support. The true benefit of Google Fi is its ability to seamlessly switch networks, even in the middle of a call, or while on a website. Unfortunately, hardware comes into play with this. Nexus and Pixel phones come built with special antennae that allow this to happen. Your wife’s v20 will simply NEVER be able to do it. It would be like trying to watching a television program on a radio receiver. It’s missing a key component.

  • AnnaRaven

    Just got back from Italy. So nice to have Fi and not have to worry about how much data I’m using. We used our phones for calls and texts and GPS and it just connected without problem. Love Fi.

  • donald Wyman

    I had fi for about a year and loved it but with all the other carriers now having decently priced unlimited data plans it became just silly to be on fi having to mind my data usage with two young children (they like to watch videos and download games on our phones) to keep the price down. Now we spend the same amount on cricket for 2 phones as we were on fi without the need to watch your data usage. The other downfall is that the only phones allowed on the network are Nexus phones (being phased out) and the expensive pixel phone. My wife is tight when it comes to buying phones so she prefers a $50 phone as apposed to a $300+ phone (I on the other hand have had Nexus phones since the Nexus s) but if fi ever makes a decent unlimited plan and opens the phone selection up a bit we would come back happily.

  • Teresa Nix

    I’ve had Fi for over a year. Service is great, phones are horribly limited and problematic. Would like to upgrade but Pixels can’t be found and they’re staggeringly pricey. If they had more phone choices with fewer problems, I’d be touting it more.

  • I used Project FI for about a year but 2 months ago I switched to MintSim. Project FI is great if you are going to travel internationally (I don’t) or if you live or travel in areas where T-Mobile alone won’t give you an adequate connection. But if you don’t do these MintSim is less expensive than Project Fi for all levels of use – no data to up to 10 GB of LTE data per month – if you prepay for a year.

  • Rael

    This article is not honest. How is Project Fi’s price rated five stars if it costs twice what Metro PCs is asking per line for its unlimited plan for 2 lines, $80? With $80 I can get only one line, with 5 or 6 gigs from Project Fi. The benefit of better coverage is now doubtful after every US carrier improved their coverage in the last few years. Practically there’s no difference. To me Project Fi is a missed opportunity. Expensive and not offering real benefits.