Google has decided to team up with American wireless carrier US Cellular in expanding the current coverage of its Project Fi mobile service. As explained by Evan Jacobs, one of the product managers for Project Fi, via a blog post published this week, Google is planning to deploy the extended coverage to all users in the next few weeks. On top of the coverage expansion, users can also expect improved connection speed and consistency in network quality.
Google had first rolled out its Project Fi mobile service back in April of last year. At the time of its introduction, various industry watchers saw Project Fi as an effort by Google to shake up the entire wireless industry by offering a mobile service with very affordable plans. Project Fi’s branding lies in its willingness to combine cellular coverage (provided by partners such as T-Mobile, Sprint, and now US Cellular) with any existing local Wi-Fi network. It helps that Google has developed a piece of technology that allows the Project Fi mobile service to ascertain which connection is best for the user, basically letting people switch among networks effortlessly, especially if one type of connection proves to be inadequate.
By partnering with US Cellular, Project Fi’s network should allow for more flexibility. Previously, the mobile service took advantage of networks provided by major US wireless carriers T-Mobile and Sprint. But as noted by Jacobs, even though multiple cellular networks are readily available on Project Fi, the quality of connection may vary depending on certain factors, such as the specific proximity of buildings and other structures, the nearness of cellular towers, and geography.
When Google first introduced Project Fi, the mobile service was only made available to a limited number of users, specifically those acquired an invitation to join (it had to be requested directly from Google). But in March early this year, Google decided to do away with the invite only system, and allow all eligible users to avail of Project Fi. There were some caveats, of course -- first of all, in order to quality for the mobile service, users must be based in a location supported by Project Fi. Google gamely provides assistance for those who are not sure if their location is covered. The second requirement is that users must have a working Gmail account. Moreover, they must either have a recent Nexus device, preferably any one of the Nexus 6, Nexus 6P, or Nexus 5X devices. Lastly, interested parties must be at least 18 years old.
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