googleUPDATE 03/08/2016: Google Fi no longer requires an invitation to sign up! Today, Android’s blog announced its official goodbye to the invite system for the Fi Network.

Google is well known for coming up with disruptive tools and services, but sometimes their “projects” do not turn out and do not live up to expectations. Earlier this year the search giant announced their new project – Google Project Fi. It is too early to say if Project Fi is a success. Personally I believe that Google has a good idea and it is going in the right direction.

High-level overview: Think of Project Fi as Google’s attempt to shake up the wireless market and encourage people to use more of its services. Google is aiming to change the way people pay for wireless service by creating a simple monthly plan structure ($20 and $10) and refund money for any unused data. How cool is that? Well, the big mobile operators (think AT&T and Verizon) in the USA are not pumped about this. People like me on the other hand – we like and we support the idea!

Project Fi details and specifics:

  • $20 monthly buys you unlimited domestic talk and text, unlimited international text, low cost international calling, low cost calling when abroad (20 cents per minute over cellular, cheaper via Wi-Fi), and coverage in 120+ countries.
  • Data is priced at $10 per gigabyte per month and you get a refund for all unused data. Purchase 5 gigabytes for $50, but only use 2.5 gigabytes then Google refunds you $25.
  • The price is right, no denying, but can you trust it? Google says “Your data is secured through encryption when we connect you to open Wi-Fi hotspots. It’s like your data has a private tunnel to drive through.” 
  • Your device automatically connects to the fastest network available whether it’s Wi-Fi or one of the partner’s LTE networks.
  • You can get data-only support for tablets on Google’s own MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) network. Instead of spending billions to create its own network, Google is relying on Sprint and T-Mobile’s infrastructure.
  • The following devices are ready to activate and work on Google Fi network:
    • Nexus 7 – K009 (US LTE)
    • Nexus 9 – 0P82300 (US LTE)
    • iPad Air 2 – Model A1567
    • iPad mini 4 – Model A1550
    • Galaxy Tab S – Model SM-T807V
  • The new Nexus 5X and 6P work with Project Fi and right now Google is offering a $50 discount. Offer expires December 30, 2015.
  • There is no base charge for maintaining a line like phones have. That simply means that you can go months without using data on your tablet and you will be charged $0.00.
  • For right now the only way to activate a tablet is by adding it to an existing Fi account.
  • Calls and text messages can be completed over Wi-Fi networks for extended coverage. Transition between Wi-Fi and cell networks is also seamless.