Google FI Wireless Service: By Invitation Only, For Now - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Cloud // Infrastructure as a Service
News
4/22/2015
06:06 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
100%
0%

Google FI Wireless Service: By Invitation Only, For Now

Early access is available to those with a Nexus 6 smartphone who sign up to request an invitation, have a Gmail address, and live in a US zip code within the wireless coverage area.

10 Astonishing Email Habits
10 Astonishing Email Habits
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Google entered the mobile carrier business on Wednesday with a service called Project Fi that provides access to the wireless networks of Sprint and T-Mobile. Through Project Fi, Google becomes what's known as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO).

The service is tied directly into Google's other offerings, including Gmail and the Google Hangouts app, which may limit its usefulness for enterprise mobility. The model and price point could be attractive for mobilizing some enterprise users whose work may not involve accessing sensitive corporate data, and could be appealing to small- and medium-sized businesses.

Project Fi provides 4G LTE cellular and WiFi connectivity for customers with Nexus 6 phones, available in 32GB ($649) and 64GB ($699) configurations. Pricing starts at $30, which includes $20 for basic service (unlimited domestic talk, unlimited domestic and international texting, tethering, and access in more than 120 countries) and $10 per GB of data.

(Image: Nemo via Pixabay)

(Image: Nemo via Pixabay)

Google is starting out slowly, with Project Fi's Early Access Program. Would-be users must sign-up to request an invitation, must have a Gmail address, and must live in a US zip code within the coverage area. The Early Access Program will only support Nexus 6 smartphones because the Nexus 6's cellular radio, unlike the radios in many smartphones, supports all the 4G LTE networks in the US and many 4G LTE networks elsewhere.

Google has taken a novel approach to billing. Data is paid for in advance, and the cost of unused data gets refunded rather than rolled over or lost. In a blog post, Nick Fox, VP of communications products at Google, explained that if a customer buys a 3GB plan for $30 and only uses 1.4GB, the customer will receive a $16 credit on his or her next bill.

[ Will you have a new job this year? Read IT Hiring Outlook Is Upbeat, Study Finds. ]

Project Fi includes network technology designed to hand off connections seamlessly between cellular and WiFi networks. For customers, this translates to greater network coverage than either Sprint or T-Mobile provides separately.

Customers can port existing numbers to Project Fi, and Google treats that number as a cloud-based identifier, rather than a number tied to a specific device. Incoming calls will ring on any device with Google's Hangouts app, provided the user is signed in. Outgoing calls can be made via Hangouts on Android, iOS, and through Gmail on desktop computers via the Hangouts widget. Texts can be received in the same way.

Google employs a similar approach with Google Voice, but a Google Voice number cannot double as a Project Fi number. "We've integrated some features of Google Voice into the Project Fi experience, and since both products use the same underlying infrastructure for communication, it's not possible at this time to have both a Google Voice number and a Project Fi number," a Google spokesperson said in an email.

Attend Interop Las Vegas, the leading independent technology conference and expo series, designed to inspire, inform, and connect the world's IT community. In 2015, look for all-new programs, networking opportunities, and classes that will help you set your organization's IT action plan. It happens April 27 to May 1. Register with Discount Code MPOIWK for $200 off Total Access & Conference Passes.

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful ... View Full Bio

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
SaneIT
50%
50%
SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
4/24/2015 | 7:55:53 AM
Re: Cellular service
I did some more reading up on Fi, it's an interesting strategy the way they want to hand voice traffic off between carriers and WiFi based on the best signals in the area.  I think I missed the voice portion of the service when I first heard about it because there was so much emphasis on the fact that the data was bought in chunks and could be rolled over.  People were much more excited by the data offering than the voice offering and I can see why.  I use my cellular phone for calling less and less often so data is much more important for me.
Thomas Claburn
50%
50%
Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
4/23/2015 | 12:40:55 PM
Re: Cellular service
>Is this a data only plan with the calling going through something like Google Hangouts? 

No, it's voice and data.

If you want to sign up, visit:

https://fi.google.com/signup
SaneIT
50%
50%
SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
4/23/2015 | 8:22:55 AM
Cellular service
I had been hearing a lot about this not including a cellular voice plan, is this a data only plan with the calling going through something like Google Hangouts?  I've made a few calls through hangouts and it gets a bit choppy at times.  I was hoping for a data only solution with a higher quality calling solution but I it sounds like I'm going to be kept waiting on that.  I'd like to see it because it means my "mobile" number becomes that much more flexible.
florinb602
50%
50%
florinb602,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/22/2015 | 7:46:27 PM
Google FI service
How/where can you actually apply for it (of course assuming that you have a Nexus 6 phone)?
Slideshows
Reflections on Tech in 2019
James M. Connolly, Editorial Director, InformationWeek and Network Computing,  12/9/2019
Slideshows
What Digital Transformation Is (And Isn't)
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  12/4/2019
Commentary
Watch Out for New Barriers to Faster Software Development
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  12/3/2019
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
The Cloud Gets Ready for the 20's
This IT Trend Report explores how cloud computing is being shaped for the next phase in its maturation. It will help enterprise IT decision makers and business leaders understand some of the key trends reflected emerging cloud concepts and technologies, and in enterprise cloud usage patterns. Get it today!
Slideshows
Flash Poll