Google and T-Mobile team up to launch Project Fi MVNO carrier

T-Mobile and Google have been working with each other for donkey’s years. (That’s British for: A very long time.) Going all the way back to the T-Mobile G1, the very first Android phone. But they’ve never done anything as ambitious as Project Fi seems on the service.

As rumored many times, Google has finally announced its MVNO carrier. And just like the rumors suggested, you pay for the data you use and not for an ill-fitting bucket that resets every month, or leaves you with a rollover allowance of data you probably won’t ever use. Also, as rumored, the Project Fi carrier uses Sprint and T-Mobile’s cellular networks to connect. But it’s much more than that.

Project Fi uses some clever technology to not just ensure you’re connected to the best cellular network. It connects you to the best network, period. That could be LTE on Sprint/T-Mobile or on Wi-Fi. So – essentially – its default position is to route all your calls, messages and data through Wi-Fi. But if that’s not available, it uses LTE. As explained in Google’s official blog:

“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. As you go about your day, Project Fi automatically connects you to more than a million free, open Wi-Fi hotspots we’ve verified as fast and reliable. Once you’re connected, we help secure your data through encryption. When you’re not on Wi-Fi, we move you between whichever of our partner networks is delivering the fastest speed, so you get 4G LTE in more places.”

This could be incredible for customers who spend most of their time indoors hooked up to work or home Wi-Fi. It just makes the experience of using a phone more convenient, and billing is incredibly simple too. $20 per month gets you “the basics” which includes talk, text, Wi-Fi tethering and international coverage in 120+ countries. Cellular data is a flat-rate $10 per 1GB, so 2GB costs you $20, 3GB costs $30 and so on. If you don’t use all your data, you get credit back for the unused amount. Google uses the example of being on a 3GB data plan and only using 1.4GB in a month, in which instance, you get $16 credited back to your account.

If you don’t use it, you don’t pay for it.

As of right now, Google is beginning a Project Fi Early Access Program inviting people to sign up for the service. Sadly, it’s only available to customers with a Nexus 6 due to some software and hardware constraints. Google invites U.S. consumers to check its cellular coverage map (which is super-fast and responsive BTW) to ensure you can get a 4G LTE network where you live, work and travel. If you want to find out more about the plan, or read through some FAQs head on over to the “about” page.

International roaming is similar to T-Mobile’s own international deal on Simple Choice. Data costs the same amount ($10 per 1GB) as it does in the U.S., except customers are reduced to “256kbps/3G”. International calls cost 20 cents per minute and texts are unlimited.

By all accounts, T-Mobile is delighted to have Google as a partner on this project. John Legere, in a blog post published recently, expresses his delight at being involved in Project Fi. After waxing poetic about how Google is his “kind of people”, he outlines the benefit for the US market as a whole:

Let me be 100% clear. Not only is this a great opportunity to put the T-Mobile network into the hands of even more Americans who spend their days and nights Periscoping, YouTubing, tweeting and streaming, the brand association is a strong one. It’s been fantastic to pull together some of the biggest brains in tech to drive innovation that could directly benefit tomorrow’s American wireless customers. The carriers have dug in their heels and held US wireless back for too long. This industry needs all the fresh blood and fresh thinking it can get.

On more than one occasion in the past, Legere has stated his belief that wireless is evolving far beyond the traditional carrier. And has even thrown in Google’s name among brands like Facebook when talking about future non-traditional wireless service providers. Project Fi could be the very beginning of this shift towards non-restricted access to wireless communication.

What do you make of Project Fi? Will you be ditching T-Mobile in favor of Google’s new service? Or are you happy with the Wi-Fi calling and unlimited data on T-Mo?

Side note: I really wish we had this in the UK. The amount of time I spend at home in my office, I’d save an absolute fortune.

To request an invite, head on over to fi.google.com.

Sources: Google, T-Mobile

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  • Al P. Keaton III

    If I can’t use a windows 640 XL or any decent windows phone then IDGAF. In any case, just going with T-Mobile alone is a better deal. I’ll pass.

    • jakematic

      Yep, it’s probably going to be Android only and I’m not going back to that hot mess under any circumstance.

      Was hoping to be able to use a Fi SIM in a dual SIM Lumia…

  • Tiki E

    I was hoping for $5 per GB.
    This wouldn’t make my current T-Mobile family plan any cheaper.
    Actually make it go up about $10-$20 per month.

  • Derek

    With Google Fi being as cheap as $30 a month and using two major networks, how can any provider, including t-mobile compete. I may make the switch.

    • Aaron Peromsik

      Currently I pay $4.70 per month. It’s not as seamless as Project Fi but for the $25 savings I don’t care. (All calls and text via Hangouts, usually on wifi, but $4.70 for 100MB of data on T-Mobile’s network from US Mobile.)

    • Al P. Keaton III

      Good luck with customer service and support… the excellent reputation Google has and *sarcasm* and downgrading to Sprint when you loose T-Mobile service – that’s a best case scenario too. You could be paying for Sprint service with T-Mobile roaming / failover service. Now that would suck…

    • Devon Warren

      Well T-mobile gets a cut of it so even if everyone switched over they would still be making money (though probably less). Also lack of phone support, no contract-end assist, no unlimited data, no free music data. There are still plenty of reasons to stay at TMo but these provides another set of options at a great rate if it fits your need.

    • UMA_Fan

      Just like EVERY mvno out there they beat the host carrier on individual plan pricing and that’s pretty much it. This is nothing new it’s just that it’s an MVNO by Google which gives it some public awareness.

      A four line family plan with T-Mobile is $25/line and it just gets less from there. For 10 people it’s $16 per line.

    • Ordeith

      Cricket, MetroPCS, and Even T-Mobile prepaid competes to a point. for 2-3GB of data they are all cheaper than Google.

  • Frankwhitess

    This is awesome for office folks! But for the average person that moves around a lot, it is best to stick with T Mobile… Wifi is not as easy for me to achieve where I work… And i am a very hungry data person which would actually be very expensive for me to switch to Google Mobile…. Am very happy with T mobile and the plans they have.. I just wished they had more 4G LTE coverage and more hot spot data for unlimited customers.. 5 gig is good, but 10 gig would put t mobile as King of all plans..

    Imagine, everything unlimited and 10 gig of hot spot for the price we pay now.. It would be sweet!

    • UMA_Fan

      It’s only $20 more for 9 GB of hotspot total with unlimited.

      OR T-Mobile will give you another 5GB of hotspot for $10 if you do their match your data plan for dedicated hotspot devices.

      So essentially just $10 more gives you the 10GB you wanted

      • Frankwhitess

        Your very Rite!!! Thank you for the info.. I am definitely going to look into this :)

  • TheRealKingSen

    Was excited about it until I read data pricing. Can’t see anyone leaving sprint or tmobile for this since both of them have unlimited data plans. I’ll stick with my tmo unlimited data

  • Ning

    So they are supposed to release wifi calling on Nexus 6 soon? Still no updates with all the delays

    • TK – Indy

      The silence on this topic is deafening.

      • Fabian Cortez

        The silence on this topic is deafening.

        Why would you care?

        You’re a Sprint user with excellent coverage whereas T-Mobile, the service that you approved for your daughters, where you live, is “a terrible place to have T-mobile on an important line.”

        Could you at least troll on an article with the appropriate subject.

    • Fabian Cortez

      Coming soon™

  • Fabian Cortez

    No T-Mobile network features (VoLTE, Wi-Fi calling, HD voice), no switch.

    • mark

      I’m pretty sure they will have Wi-fi calling, that’s kind of what it’s about

      • Fabian Cortez

        I’m pretty sure they will have Wi-fi calling, that’s kind of what it’s about

        No.

        T-Mobile themselves said there’s no HD voice or Wi-Fi calling.

        So that leads me to believe that this is simply an OTT service using hangouts integration. Not to mention that Google will choose the network based off of which one has the fastest speed at the time.

        • Guest

          Wi-Fi calling and texting is included with Google’s offering

        • Fabian Cortez

          Wi-Fi calling and texting is included with Google’s offering

          There’s a difference between Wi-Fi calling and calling and texting over Wi-Fi using hangouts.

        • Cam Button

          What’s the key differences?

          And if you can please provide link sources. I’m intrigued by the distinction you are adamant about.

        • Fabian Cortez

          Ok “Cam Button.”

        • Kogashuko

          Well I think that is a key feature of Android 5.1 one in that it integrates Wifi calling with the OS just like apple did. What I am wondering might be a bigger problem. Will google use only LTE data as their so called “backhaul” to get you phone service. In that case both sprint and tmobile currently have large holes without LTE coverage or in the case of sprint slow LTE.

        • Fabian Cortez

          There’s no Wi-Fi calling in this at all.

          It’s using a Google hangouts to make calls (VoIP) over Wi-Fi and cellular data connections. Hangouts has had VoIP calling since late last year using a Google voice number.

          If you’ve used hangouts before, you’ll know that text messages work with it as well due to its integration.

          I suspect Google will port in your number to hangouts/their service.

        • Kogashuko

          They made it sound today like you could do it from your phone nike a normal phone call without hangouts if it was a nexus device. Being relegated to hangouts would be a fail. Either way, any info on if the thing will even use CDMA (EVDO) GSM (EDGE/HSPA+) or just wifi only?

        • Kogashuko

          Well looking at the FAQ it looks as if you are stuck with hangouts. https://fi.google.com/about/faq/#talk-and-text-3
          Also looking at the faq it looks like you can use traditional 4g /3g/ or 2g but doesnt say which network. Either way the voice call is a data stream and not a tradtiional switched call it looks like. This could be a problem…

        • Fabian Cortez

          This is coming with a software update.

          What makes you believe that the new dialer, once the Google SIM card is inserted, wouldn’t exclusively use hangouts?

          And based on the map they provided, it looks like it’ll be LTE, 3G, and 2G data. The phone will test which network is the fastest and then hop on that network.

        • Kogashuko

          Yeh the FAQ made it make more sense. I still worry about data only calling without traditional switching if it uses hangouts. From what I understand hangouts and other voip services like skype use significantly more bandwidth than VoLTE or Wifi calling. I am wondering what this will do to a cellular network running 2g or say LTE in 700mhz A block that only has 6mhz of bandwidth. If their current setup doesnt support carrier aggregation or like what Sprint calls Sparc, the network could be hosed at peek times.

        • Fabian Cortez

          Unlike VoLTE, there’s no prioritizarion or QoS. Data will be treated as data. Unless Google made some type of deal with T-Mobile and Sprint and/or their calls on Wi-Fi going through the VPN somehow ensure some level of quality of service (doubtful).

        • Kogashuko

          Yeh, that is what I was afraid of… It’s ok, in the long run if google is serious it might work out! I use a ton more data than voice calls anyway.

        • Cam Button

          Okay, so you really don’t know what you’re talking. I was totally giving you the benefit of the doubt until you posted your strange, if not rude, response to my sincerely curious question. You didn’t have to troll me jerk.

  • Georgios Renieris

    Gonna stay with t mobile but gonna keep an eye on this

  • warpwiz

    This is the 1st offer in my 17 years with TMo that looks tempting. I want to hear more, but the coverage is stupendous (finally have solid 4GLTE @ home). The downside is having a 1-phone selection. I love my Note 2 & the stylus. I’m interested – woo me!

    • dtam

      just wait, it’ll probably be available to more android phones

  • Mark McCoskey

    Hope Fi adds a data only plan.

    • Nick

      Yes! I would love to use this with a hotspot

  • D_Wall__

    Im very interested in this as a Current Nexus 6 owner with Tmo. But i LOVE the free media streaming.. Im wondering if the benefits are worth trying it? I would also lose my Jump, Insurance, and Device payment… Which isnt a bad thing but i would have to pay off my device…

    • Dakota Carter

      I’m also on tmo with a nexus 6 with the unlimited plan. Fi seems a little useless for me seeing as I use about 10GB of data a month (that is my bill already $100)but that’s for 2 people not just me

    • AussieB

      If you use the music streaming apps that Tmobile covers for you, then it might not be worth it. I don’t use those apps – I have my own music so I would be interested but not buying a 6 month old Nexus 6 at full price to try it

  • Luck

    I decided to leave T-mobile because they did not update S4 (to lollipop), S3 and Note 2 (and S5, S6, Note 3 and 4 for sure in the future) to the recent android versions. However, I was kind of sad as I am with T-mobile for a loooong time now. This is the best opportunity for me. I will NOT be with T-mobile but I will be using the network. Awesome.

    • UMA_Fan

      That’s why you left T-Mobile? Isn’t that more so Samsungs fault?

      • Luck

        No it is not Samsung. Everyone else is updating S4 to Lollipop. The whole planet updated S3 and Note 2 to Kitkat except T-mobile. ATT is updating even S4-active which is kind of a niche product. By the way I am still with T-mobile till summer.

        • Mark

          I’m in agreement with the others. Plus, I’ve gotten into a habit as a sales rep telling customers not to update yet. We’ve seen a lot of problems with the s5 and Note 4 glitching and this includes the “contacts has stopped working” error (sheesh! I’m tired of this one!) all the way up to a bricked phone. So having the latest isn’t always the greatest. On top of that, there’s more than a dozen problems with VoLTE and the download booster not being compatible with wifi calling.

        • Kogashuko

          Hopefully this will be cleared up with Android 5.1 or whichever one fully integrates wifi calling into the OS just like apple did. That way you do not have to wait for Tmobile to vet and create a release with wifi calling. Sounds like it is on the way. Soon you will really be able to get one phone and choose any network.

        • eAbyss

          “Hopefully this will be cleared up with Android 5.1 or whichever one fully integrates wifi calling into the OS just like apple did.”

          5.1 is the current version…

        • eAbyss

          You can blame Samsung for creating highly specialized devices instead of going carrier neutral. If their devices were carrier neutral this wouldn’t be a problem and updates would be quicker and cheaper for them to get out.

    • FILA

      Wow you left T-Mobile for that reason. Should of just rooted. Lets get everyone on a Nexus or a Moto X unlocked!

  • Nate

    I shall be staying with tmobile and keeping my unlimited data. $111 a month for 2 lines fully unlimited is a bit cheaper than Google Fi.

  • FILA

    I’ll keep T-Mobile plan for now. You just can’t beat the price with T-Mobile for unlimited everything. Music streaming alone will kill your data each month. You’ll be paying similar on Google then what you would on T-Mobile

    • AussieB

      That is if you stream music from one of those sites – many people don’t …Im still fine with my 3gb LTE $45 plan but I love the idea of getting refunded for data you don’t use because I often don’t use 3gb…but I don’t have a Nexus 6 and all the problems Ive had with the Nexus 5 since Lollipop, Im not sure Ill stay with an Android phone

      • eAbyss

        Nexus is considered a developer phone and was the first out of the gate with Lollipop so you can’t blame Google for something that you should have expected could happen.

  • JBLmobileG1

    OK which is is… Tmonews says the Unlimited Talk,Text, and WiFi is $20 a month, but on your sister site it states it’s $30? The data information is the same at $10 per GB. Not that I plan on switching because I Love my truly unlimited data with Tmobile @ $70, but I am still curious.

    • JBLmobileG1

      PS… your sister site “Android and Me”

    • Fabian Cortez

      Just go to the source.

  • Katrina Garza-Edwards

    I love this “pay for what you use” way of wireless…it is simiar to Ting, another MNVO that uses T-Mo’s network for their GSM service.

    • Kogashuko

      But does this use Tmobile’s GSM? It sounds like the thing might be LTE / Wifi only.

      • Katrina Garza-Edwards

        Yeah I’m not sure on that. I was just really impressed with the pay for what you use aspect.

      • eAbyss

        Check the coverage map. It uses all of their data networks, not just LTE.

  • AussieB

    The credit back is very attractive but the service is only available for the nexus 6 so very few people will be able to access it.

    • eAbyss

      For now it’s the only phone that supports it. I’d expect that to change in the future and is probably the real reason for this experiment.

  • Kogashuko

    So… does it use only LTE from Sprint and Tmobile? If that is the case there will be many coverage holes. Sprint’s LTE quite frankly sucks and Tmobile still has holes where they provide 2g only… What about GSM and CDMA?

    • Fabian Cortez

      It uses all of their data networks.

  • afive720

    I like the idea and here are my two cents so far.

    From screenshots, I like how it displays data usage, I’m assuming that it will be as elegant and convenient for other screens in account management.
    I do like the credit back feature for unused data.
    I do like the multi network option. I hate sprint and their network, so I hope it’d prefer T-Mobile.
    Pricing is okay. I have 30gb on verizon with 3 lines, I only really need 2 lines. So, right now before financing I pay $130 for base price plus $15 per line additional. So that’s $145 for two lines. With Google FI, that’s $120 for 10gb per line, so total of $240 per month for less. Granted, if I wasn’t on such a good plan I would be more excited. But then, I still know I can get better deal on Tmobile. The whole use sprint thing doesn’t do me much good as sprint blows, if T-Mobile has a network hole, sprint usually has it as well.

    • Kogashuko

      I worry that this is going to be LTE/WIFI only with no GSM/CDMA support. This could cause a subpar experience for the user in many places. Even if you went with verizon for this service their LTE gets bogged down at peak times even if they do have good coverage.

      • Fabian Cortez

        It’s VoIP so it’s all data.

        Notice how their map shows 4G LTE, 3G, and 2G.

        It latches on to the network with the best speeds at the time.

      • afive720

        Verizon did major upgrading, speeds are very consistent throughout the day here in Atlanta as well as DC area, can’t speak for other markets as I haven’t been yet. The map shows 3G and 2g coverage, so I assume that it will work just fine if there’s no lte. My concern is the coverage indeed, sprint and T-Mobile have spots where the phone will show data signal with 2-3 bars, yet data won’t work. So take iMessage for example, it would attemp to send via data network but would get stuck as it is timing out. So, if they are purely using data and both sprint and T-Mobile have subpar data in the are, an the network send a text without using data?

        Also, what about during calls? If they use data network it is a nightmare. Try playing an mmo game on T-Mobile while riding on the highway, you’ll have crazy ping spikes and video chat is choppy. Same will be an issue for calls. Also, sprint doesn’t do voice + data over lte.

        • eAbyss

          “My concern is the coverage indeed, sprint and T-Mobile have spots where the phone will show data signal with 2-3 bars, yet data won’t work.”

          It sounds like from your post that you’re using an iPhone. We did a test drive on T-Mobile (uses an iP5S) and ran into problems like you but went with them anyways, bought Android phones, and never had issues again. It seems to be an issue with iPhones. I’ve seen other people complain too.

        • afive720

          Actually, android mostly. Ironically iPhones worked much better for me on T-Mobile.

        • eAbyss

          I got that from your “iMessage” comment. Only iOS users talk that way.

          Newer or older iPhones? From what I’ve read the older ones work better on T-Mobile than the newer ones.

        • afive720

          Well, this was mostly on htc one, nexus 4-5 and iPhone 5s towards the end. Granted, T-Mobile has made enormous improvements in dc, but it still blows the second you live the city. That’s what I mean, sprint has even bigger issues outside of the cities when it comes to data, I just hope Google fi can send via regular cellular network and not data.

      • eAbyss

        Project Fi’s coverage map includes 2G and 3G in it’s coverage. So yes, it will support GSM/CDMA.

  • JBLmobileG1

    What they should do, is if you hit over say 8GB in a month, then it’s unlimited for the rest of the month and you pay $100 total for talk, text, and unlimited data. While I can easily hit that, at least during the times you may not use that amount, you won’t get charged as much and possibly even have a credit towards the next month. From what I read on another site though is that Google has no plans for an Unlimited option. I only pay $70 now through T-Mobile with Unlimited everything so I can’t really complain. Although, it would be nice when I don’t use that much data and then get a credit towards my next bill. I wonder if Google’s plans include taxes or it’s added on similar to say, Walmarts Family Mobile plans.

    • Mike Thaler

      According to FAQ – Does NOT include taxes

    • RLB63

      The big difference is when you are out of toiled coverage you could use sprints. Which could be a major advantage to those that switch between the 2 for coverage. Don’t know how many people that is though…

      • eAbyss

        Sprint doesn’t really have that much coverage outside of T-Mobile’s and vice versa though.

  • vlv723

    I’m part of my brother’s family plan so there’s no need for me to leave T-Mobile soon. However, if I decide to get my own once again, I would consider this if the base plan included at least 1GB and then $5 per extra GB. $10 per GB is still a lot for heavy data users like myself.

    I mentioned this on the last article. Since this service have the ability to use data internationally, it did say that it is limited at 3G speed, unlike EDGE/2G. If T-Mobile decides to match that speed for international roaming, then I’ll stay with them for the long term and won’t need to buy a SIM card with another carrier when I go traveling this fall.

    • JayQ330

      Yeah I rather pay for unlimited service, 8 GB’s will cost $80. For $80 you get unlimited wooer free data… & since they have a limited time promo for 2 people in one bill & you just pay $100 a month instead of $80 each for unlimited… It’s much simpler to go unlimited, at least for me it is.

      • eAbyss

        8GBs would cost $100 including the base cost…

    • eAbyss

      T-Mobile doesn’t limit you to 2G, they throttle you to “2G speeds” (128Kbps, which is often faster than 2G) and Project Fi doesn’t limit you to 3G, they throttle you to 3G speeds” (256Kbps). Of course a lot of international roaming will be done over 2G though because their partners haven’t upgraded their networks so you won’t see a difference in speed in many cases.

      Another thing to consider is that Project Fi still charges you for international roaming ($10/GB) while T-Mobile does not.

  • TK – Indy

    The selling point for this is the ability to use all of Sprint and T-mobiles bands, so the coverage should be very, very good. They are competitive on price, but price is not a win for them. Boost, Cricket, and MetroPCS all offer better prepaid plans from a cost perspective, and of course the T-mobile legendary $30 – if 100 minutes is enough. Cricket even beats them on coverage and is probably the best all-around prepaid value, plus you can use lots of different phones on all the others.

    • JayQ330

      That’s true, but just imagine. Sprint & then T-Mobile were the first & think still the only networks to use Google voice & allow MMS message threw hangouts. Who knows what else they’ll have to their sleeves. Google network only services could bring allot of people in. T-Mobile gives free Spotify, is it Spotify? Well google could give free google music, other new services they have ready to release. That’ll definitely win thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of purple to the google cell service.

    • gmo8492

      Project Fi subscribers also get free international data and texts via T-mobile’s 120 countries it has partnered with. So it maybe a good enough incentive to try the service out.

      • Fabian Cortez

        Project Fi subscribers also get free international data and texts via T-mobile’s 120 countries it has partnered with.

        The data is not free. It’s the same rate as it is here in the states at $10 per GB. It’s also throttled to 256 kbps.

        • gmo8492

          Yeah, totally overlooked that. It makes the plan less attractive now.

    • Fabian Cortez

      The selling point for this is the ability to use all of Sprint and T-mobiles bands, so the coverage should be very, very good.

      Both Sprint and T-Mobile’s coverage overlaps. “Very, very good” coverage is an overstatement.

    • ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀will

      The real selling point is the opportunity to take advantage of the million free verified wifi hotspots Google will automatically connect you too, then your own wifi at home… the LAST resort it’s the fastest/strongest available LTE signal. This service has the potentional to eliminate overlapping data expenses from the cellular provider and WiFi ISP. The problem is the average consumer is to stupid to understand the vision …

  • skittle

    Here is the odd part. T-Mobile and Sprint coming together under the banner of Google. I know, not really as companies but they provide for Google as Google will be using both of them. Legere Can’t say Goigle has a bad network if it’s partly his (as CEO) network. A plus might be Googles draw power aka $$$$. I don’t know really but this will be interesting to watch.

    • UMA_Fan

      Why would Legere ever bad mouth Google? They aren’t competing with T-Mobile.

      • 0neTw0

        But they (Google) kinda are. If you sign up with FI you leave T-Mobile or what ever carrier you are with. The service you get is just Tmo or sprints network.

        • Fabian Cortez

          That’s kind of true.

          However, as John Legere pointed out, since they’ll be using speed as a determinant, people will be camping out on T-Mobile’s network more often than Sprint’s.

          That means people will get to experience T-Mobile more and potentially (long shot) switch.

        • 0neTw0

          But if you are getting service from Fi why would you go to T-Mobile or any carrier for that matter. Fi is essentially making Google a service provider.

        • Fabian Cortez

          Correct. But what if one gets fed up with Google or the model doesn’t work for them anymore?

          At least they have an idea about the quality (or lack thereof) of the network.

        • The Project Fi website says it puts you on the strongest signal for the fastest speeds possible. That can be problematic though since strongest signal doesn’t always mean fastest speeds. I know at the college I go to, 1 bar of Band 41 can give me 50 Mbps but full bars of Band 25 or Band 26 will give me 12-20Mbps.

        • Fabian Cortez

          The Project Fi website says it puts you on the strongest signal for the fastest speeds possible. That can be problematic though since strongest signal doesn’t always mean fastest speeds. I know at the college I go to, 1 bar of Band 41 can give me 50 Mbps but full bars of Band 25 or Band 26 will give me 12-20Mbps.

          I didn’t see anything about the strongest signal. Instead I read that they’ll put you on the network with the fastest speed at the time.

          Link will be in another post below. However, it’s under the FAQ section “Network and Coverage” and it’s the fourth one.

        • Which means that TMUS will be used more often than S. ;-)

        • I see what you’re talking about but they also posted this on their page:

          If you’re on one network and we detect our other 4G LTE network partner has a stronger signal, you’re moved over to the other network to get the fastest available speed.

          My guess is they have good intentions and they really do mean what they’re saying about fastest speeds but their means of doing so is by connecting to the stronger signal. This can be problematic though.

        • eAbyss

          “What determines when Project Fi moves me between cellular networks?

          Whenever 4G LTE is available, Project Fi will move you to whichever cellular network has the fastest 4G LTE at your location. When 4G LTE isn’t available, we’ll put you on the fastest network type in your area (3G or 2G).”

          ~Project Fi FAQ

        • I know, I read that. But they seem to be contradicting themselves or at least equating strongest signal to fastest speeds. It clearly says on another page that they’ll put on what has the strongest signal so that you’ll have the fastest speed available.

        • eAbyss

          They’re basically saying that they’ll connect you to the fastest connection between WiFi, T-Mobile LTE, and Sprint LTE. But in lieu of that they’ll connect you to the fastest 2G or 3G connection.

          They could have worded things better but it all makes sense to me.

        • Fabian Cortez

          I think that’s just public relations.

          I’d imagine they’d detect the stronger signal then proceed with their standard speed test method before making a jump.

          If the T-Mobile signal is stronger but congested, the consumer is then in for a worse experience. So no, I don’t think they’d be that blind and short-sighted.

        • Fabian Cortez
  • StankyChikin

    For the person that keeps trying to convince people that there is no WiFi calling involved here… unless people are somehow connecting their phones to ethernet, they are indeed making their phone calls over WiFi when they are connected to WiFi.

    • TK – Indy

      Some people think that they get to decide what words mean.

    • Fabian Cortez

      For the person that keeps trying to convince people that there is no WiFi calling involved here… unless people are somehow connecting their phones to ethernet, they are indeed making their phone calls over WiFi when they are connected to WiFi.

      Understand the difference between Wi-Fi calling and calls made over the internet (wired (ethernet) or wireless (Wi-Fi) VoIP) before making wild statements.

      • MKashi

        People who haven’t used or heard of UMA make this mistake. I would put some blame on T-mobile for trying to dumb it down and make UMA “Wifi Calling”

    • eAbyss

      *facepalm*

      You can be connected to WiFi and still make calls over cellular. Your phone must support WiFi calling in order to make a call over WiFi.

      You’re also equating a connection method (WiFi) to a network (the internet) which is wrong on so many levels.

      • StankyChikin

        You are making a phone call over WiFi.. Spin it in any way you see fit..

  • JayQ330

    Good so I’ll still get that combined sprint/T-Mobile network coverage I been wanting. Great workaround the FCC, I’ll definitely get this mvno service, but I’ll wait for the 2015 Nexus 5 instead. Nexus 6 is not for me it’s too big for my taste & IMO looks to plain.

    • I think that, to Google, the Nexus 6 is the successor to the Nexus 5. That great value lineage, inaugurated with the Nexus 4, is dead, methinks. Pity.

      • Fabian Cortez

        That Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 is a pretty nice Nexus 4-ish-looking device that is truly unlocked with a nice price.

        I hope you looked into that pre-order.

        • I was tempted to, but my Nexus 5 is still working well, even if the battery is not the same as it used to be. Still, $200… it was hard to resist, but I had to because I’m cheap.

        • Fabian Cortez

          You should have.

          Especially since they only charge you the moment it ships (May 21).

        • Stop it! :-)

    • eAbyss

      The next Nexus is rumored to be at least 5.5″ so you might want to just suck it up and get used to it. The Nexus 6 is a great phone and the only people complaining about it’s size either never used it or are iTrolls.

  • Startswithaj

    This sounds kind of similar to Republic Wireless with the whole wifi-first calling/texting/browsing thing(republic has a slightly different pricing structure). Although I think Republic only uses Sprint towers. I wonder if calls switch automatically from wifi to mobile if you wander outside the range of your router? Or if there’s a manual switch button for when whatever wifi network you’re on is too weak to handle a wifi call.

    • Fabian Cortez

      It’s all VoIP (data) so it doesn’t matter.

      • BillBurnett

        Voice and text, I believe, generally go over the respective GSM or CDMA networks, on both Republic Wireless and Project FI. At least, that’s what the pricing schemes seem to imply. Republic Wireless even shows “voice” and “data” separately on their maps (which are Sprint maps). If Project FI is actually “all VOIP”, then, in reality, their first GB of data costs $30 – not $10 – since “zero” data is not an option with that service.

        • Fabian Cortez

          Voice and text, I believe, generally go over the respective GSM or CDMA networks, on both Republic Wireless and Project FI. At least, that’s what the pricing schemes seem to imply. Republic Wireless even shows “voice” and “data” separately on their maps (which are Sprint maps). If Project FI is actually “all VOIP”, then, in reality, their first GB of data costs $30 – not $10 – since “zero” data is not an option with that service.

          It’s all data in the sense that it’s exclusively using data for transmission.

          In other words, all communications (voice, text, data) are happening via IP.

          Project Fi and Republic Wireless are two different beasts.

        • BillBurnett

          Well, if that’s so, then Project FI’s claim that their first 1 GB of data costs $10 is rather misleading, since you can’t opt for “zero” data, but you must pay them $30 minimum (for voice, text, and 1 GB data).

        • Voice takes up about 1MB per hour of talk time and a miserly bit rate. 1GB would be good for 1000h, which is more than a month.

        • BillBurnett

          I won’t dispute your claims about “how much” data may be involved, but the fact is, with Project FI, you actually cannot get the first 1 GB of data at the advertised rate of $10 per GB, since you are “in” for $20 before you make the first phone call or send the first text message.

        • eAbyss

          Calls and texts are still billed as calls and texts (not data) by carriers even though they’re carried over IP. The base price includes calling, texting, and a basic allotment of data (which I assume will be refunded if left unused) and further data is billed at $10/GB. Good luck finding a plan without calling, texting, and/or data included now and days. This is a great deal for a budget plan but not for those of us that use a lot of data.

        • BillBurnett

          “a great deal for a budget plan but not for those of us that use a lot of data.” I tend to agree with that analysis.

        • BillBurnett

          “(which I assume will be refunded if left unused)”. The base price of $20 is not “refundable”, according to the Project FI website. Only the unused portion of each 1 GB of data (ay $10 per GB) is refundable.

        • eAbyss

          I was talking about the first GB. Some sources have it included in the base price of $30 while others have it added on to a base price of $20. The latter is actually correct. My post works either way.

        • Fabian Cortez

          Just because text and voice are IP doesn’t mean they’re billing them as data.

    • eAbyss

      One of the points of using the Nexus 6 is that it’s one of the very few phones available today capable of seamless handoffs to and from WiFi.

  • JR

    If T-Mo enabled wi-fi calling for the Nexus 6 here in the US, I wouldn’t seriously consider moving to Project Fi. I did request an invitation though.

    • BillBurnett

      I had decided a while ago that I’d like to purchase a Nexus 6 for use on T-Mobile. Ironically, it still lacks WiFi calling on T-Mobile (the reason I have not yet done so), but it is apparently 100% Wifi capable on Project FI. I also requested an invitation!

      • eAbyss

        The Nexus 6 is currently NOT WiFi calling capable, it requires support to be added to Lollipop. WiFi calling is NOT a Project Fi only feature. Native WiFi calling is expected on the N6 in an OTA by the end of June which will give support to all carriers that support it.

        • BillBurnett

          Hm-mm..okay..so the Nexus 6 is “WiFi capable” but not “WiFI calling capable” at present? That’s a bit confusing if, as I understand it, all voice phone calls via Project FI are done via IP data (not CDMA or GSM voice), and most people generally refer to as that sort of VOIP connection as “WiFi calling”.

        • eAbyss

          WiFi calling is just a type of VoIP. WiFi calling is VoIP but VoIP is not WiFi calling. Make sense?

          The Nexus 6 has the hardware for WiFi calling but not the software, that will be coming in a future update. Project Fi isn’t live yet so they have time to get the update out and I assume it won’t go live until that happens.

        • BillBurnett

          “I assume it won’t go live until that happens.” So…June sometime from what I have read.

        • eAbyss

          That’s what I’ve read too but before that it was by the end of March. Project Fi gives me hope that WiFi calling is right around the corner though.

        • Fabian Cortez

          There hasn’t been hardware for Wi-Fi calling in a long time. That was used for UMA in blackberries and was what allowed GSM to UMA handoff.

    • eAbyss

      T-Mobile is waiting on Google to add native WiFi calling support to Lollipop and doesn’t have much say in the matter. Project Fi is going to require the same so they will both support WiFi calling at the same time. This isn’t a Project Fi only feature.

      WiFi calling is expected by the end of June.

      • Fabian Cortez

        There’s no Wi-Fi calling on Project Fi. John Legere said so himself.

        They’re simply using google hangouts integration as an OTT service like Skype or Vonage. That’s how they’re able to handoff from Wi-Fi to cellular [data].

        I’d be very surprised if Google managed Wi-Fi-to-UMTS (and/or CDMA voice) yet still unable to release Wi-Fi calling-to-VoLTE even though they’ve had quite some time (years really) now.

  • chriz

    This is a good opportunity for those who don’t need a lot of data, but for data hungry users like myself, T-mobile is still the only option. People who use their phones for work/play routinely use 40+ GB of Data in a month–that would cost them $400 on google’s plan. No thanks! It’s good, but not for data people.

    • Michael Barnes

      I was thinking the same thing it seems way over priced unlimited data still what I need at 35gig a month and I am not even always in Tmobile coverage

    • eAbyss

      ~23GB per month for me including music streaming (~14GB without). I’m very disappointed in Google on this one but I think it’s geared towards changing the cell phone market than the wireless market.

  • Zach Chadwick

    The Best Way to Lure People in, Would be to Work with Apple, and allow iPhones to run on this MVNO. Apple definitely has the hardware to allow such a thing. It’d be smart for Apple to work with Google on this one. It’s one thing they both have in common. Allowing network flexibility as seen from the Apple SIM attempt.

    • topgun966

      Because Apple would not allow something like this. The software isn’t able to do it. Plus, Apple doesn’t have the market share to even attempt it nor would apple put the money behind it because it is a low margin product. They wouldn’t be able to gouge the crap out of it, the competition is to strong.

      • JLV90

        Apple has the biggest marketshare in the US if you go based on OEM and not OS. They control something like 40% of the smart phone market. Samsung is something like 30% and no one else is even close.

        • eAbyss

          Only a fanboy would use that kind of faulty logic. When normal people discuss market share they’re talking about OS, NOT OEM.
          76.6% – Android
          19.7% – iOS
          2.8% – Windows

          The software side of this is almost guaranteed to be part of Lolipop itself and the hardware side is mostly band support (the iPhone doesn’t support all the bands used on these networks) and seamless handoffs to and from WiFi (newer hardware feature and not widely supported yet, I only know of the N6 and iP6 being confirmed for this).

          Apple might have the hardware support for this with the iP7 or iP6S or whatever the hell they’re going to name the next one but the software will be all on them. I doubt Project Fi support is high on Apple’s list considering it’s intended to be a budget plan and is run by Apple’s largest competitor.

        • JLV90

          Those are world wide numbers the gap is much much closer in the US, where project fi is taking place. It will vary based on who is conducting the study and what metrics they are using. Each holds somewhere between 40-49% in the US.

          Most t-mobile phones work fine with seamless hand-off as long as they support VoLTE.

  • The only un-carrier like trait of Fi is the refunding for unused data. Though similar to TMUS Data Stash, it has the strength of green backs coming back to the wallet.

  • Great Big Social Experiment

    I was excited at first to see this news. But then now the more I think about it the more I realize this is an experiment to see if people will go for metered data plans where you pay for what you use just like your water or electric service. I can even see them toying with the same idea that some Toll Roads are experimenting with… charging more for usage during peak hours and less during off-peak hours.

    • Rob

      That’s exactly what I am seeing too. Thanks but no thanks.

      • ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀will

        Are y’all ignoring the facts that the service automatically connects you to over a million free wifi hotspots they personally verified as reliable ?

        • Rob

          Smoke and mirrors. I don’t want my data traveling over an open WiFi network anyway. But this is definitely about making people okay with metered connections… It is really a big step back. By the way, I have Comcast and they just made basically everyone who has a home networking router into an xfinity WiFi gateway. If I need free WiFi, its everywhere now.

        • KayloAlexis Alvarez

          Tell me more?….wiFi gateway??

    • JLV90

      They do that here for one of the bridges. $4 off peak hours, $6 for peak hours, $5 weekends. All other government controlled bridges around here are $5 all the time.

  • BillBurnett

    Project FI seems more like Republic Wireless to me than it does T-Mobile.

  • Be Peace

    I’m old… What’s Periscoping?

  • eAbyss

    “International roaming is similar to T-Mobile’s own international deal on Simple Choice. Data costs the same amount ($10 per 1GB) as it does in the U.S., except customers are reduced to “256kbps/3G”. International calls cost 20 cents per minute and texts are unlimited.”

    I wouldn’t say they’re that similar. T-Mobile provides FREE data roaming in over 150 countries and throttles the connection to 128Kbps.

    I personally believe T-Mobile’s model is the future (capped high speed with unlimited “2G”). Project Fi is just more of the same old crap we’ve been dealing with in the wireless industry with a slightly different spin on it.

    I’ll be sticking with my unlimited (high speed) T-Mobile plan, thank you very much.

  • 818SFV

    So if I am in my house using my wifi to browse internet.. my data is being charged at ten dollars per GB.. Google has figured out a way to make me pay twice for wifi.. this plan is horrible.

    • MontyJack

      No, they’re not charging you for using WiFi in your house lol

  • 818SFV

    4GB for $60 not a good deal.

    • eAbyss

      That would be $60.

      $20 (base cost) + $40 ($10/GB) = $60

      $60 is the cost of 3GB of high speed data on T-Mobile but with no music freedom or free international roaming.

      The plan is geared more towards light data users. I was pretty disappointed in it myself.

      • Ordeith

        $60 is the cost of 10GB of high speed data on Cricket. That really makes Google’s offering look bad.

  • Hiro

    I’ll keep my grandfathered $70 unlimited plan, but still… excellent for those who need the basics or don’t use much, if any, data.

    • eAbyss

      We’ll keep our two lines of unlimited high speed data for $100 ($40/additional line) on T-Mobile. Works out to be $180 for the four of us. $180 would only give us 2.5GB each on Project Fi. What a rip.

      • JayQ330

        Same conclusion I ended with, $100 for 2 unlimited Lte lines is better IMO. But then again I might benefit from the dual network & WiFi handoff’s, T-Mobile doesn’t really do well in buildings

  • vrm

    They should have an option of phones, at least ONE phone that costs under $400. If saving money was part of the plan, forking $650 up front seems like a bad idea, esp if one already has a good, working phone.

    I like the plan as such- people who do not use their data in a given month will benefit most. I use at most 1 GB on most months so this will work for me. And then there is always more available if I need it.

    • ellett

      The reason that only the Nexus 6 is initially supported is that only the N6 has all the LTE bands need for the multi-carrier Fi network. I would look forward to more Fi-enabled phones in the future, especially whatever Google rolls out as the next Nexus this fall. Meanwhile Nexus 6 users will be sufficient to pilot the program and shake out the bugs. First is NOT an attempt to immediately take over the entire customer base of Verizon and AT&T. It’s more of an effort to get new technology into a moribund US market. For now, at least…