Google Fi, previously known as Project Fi, is one of the more unique options when it comes to wireless carriers. It is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) that utilizes a combination of Sprint’s, T-Mobile’s and U.S. Cellular’s networks, which means the user gets superior coverage compared to what any of those networks could offer on their own. The carrier is simple to set up and although it doesn't have the largest phone selection, it is known for very high user satisfaction.
Plan Pricing on Google Fi
Since many consumers choose their cell phone service plans in large part based on price, that will be the first item covered. Unlike many other carriers, Google Fi doesn't have any unlimited data plans available, which means it’s a better option for those who use a small to medium amount of data. Power users who go through substantial mobile data every month will likely be better off turning elsewhere to avoid reaching a limit on their data. Compare Google Fi plans using Wirefly.
Google Fi’s pricing is very simple and easy to understand. Fi Basics, which is what its service plan is called, costs $20 for the first line. Every additional line is $15, and the maximum number of lines per plan is six. Data costs $10 per 1 GB. One nice benefit with Google Fi is that the customer gets credited for the data that they don’t use in a month. For example, if they’re paying $40 per month for one line and 2 GB of mobile data, but they only end up using 1 GB of data, then Google will credit them $10 for that unused 1 GB. Plan prices will be a bit higher once taxes are taken into account, as those typically run about 15 percent. Google Fi doesn't require a contract, which means the user has the option of canceling at any time without any sort of penalty.
Compared to the major carriers, Google Fi is an affordable option. On an individual or family plan where each line is using about 4 GB to 5 GB or less of mobile data, Google Fi will generally cost less than Sprint or T-Mobile. For individuals or families that use higher amounts of data per line, Google Fi will cost more than those carriers. For low amounts of mobile data per month, there are cheaper MVNO options out there.
For a carrier to offer cell phone service throughout the United States, it almost always needs to set up contracts with at least one of the four major carriers – Verizon, AT&T,Sprint, and T-Mobile. Those carriers have the most towers nationwide, and it would cost a huge amount of money for a carrier to build a tower network of its own all over the country.
Even though Verizon and AT&T have MVNO contracts, they can be difficult for MVNOs to deal with, and that’s why carrier startups trying to jump into the industry go to Sprint and T-Mobile first. To its credit, Google Fi is the first of its kind, as before it came out, no MVNO had brought together the networks of Sprint, T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular. This was no small feat, either, because T-Mobile uses GSM technology, whereas the other two carriers use CDMA technology. Those two technologies are incompatible with each other. With Google Fi, the user can also use Wi-Fi for texting and calling, and seamlessly transition through Wi-Fi ones without having dropped calls.
Google Fi is far from the only carrier to offer Wi-Fi calling, and it’s also not the only carrier to have contracts with both Sprint and T-Mobile. Ting does, as well, even though it’s different in that a user can’t access both networks from one device. What Google Fi does best is provide a wide range of features.
When Google Fi came out, it only had contracts with Sprint and T-Mobile. Adding U.S. Cellular was a big boost, because that carrier has strong coverage in rural areas, while Sprint and T-Mobile sometimes do not.
Google Fi essentially has all the strengths of those three networks with none of the weaknesses. It’s by no means perfect, though. There are still some areas where only Verizon and AT&T have strong coverage, such as northern Wisconsin. In those areas, Google Fi will only be able to provide 2G speeds, which are very slow.
Using Google Fi
A drawback with Google Fi is that despite its three networks, its phones don’t continually compare the quality of those networks to see which is the best option. Instead, they only do those checks when one network drops. This can result in a phone staying with one network even though another network would provide much better coverage. One way the user can get around this is through the Signal Spy app.
Jumping from network to network can be done by entering a dialer code, which makes the device switch to the network indicated in the code. There aren't any caps on speed, and phones on Google Fi can match those on Sprint or T-Mobile. One feature Google Fi lacks is HD voice calling.
If a phone is connected to a strong Wi-Fi network, then it will use Wi-Fi calling by default. Google Fi also accesses Google’s hotspot database and automatically connects to those when they’re available. The customer isn't required to use Wi-Fi, but it’s a good idea since data isn't unlimited and they can receive a credit for using less data than they purchased.
Google Hangouts, a popular app, is used for calls and texts across devices. When either a Gmail or G Suite account is enabled for Google Fi, it can use Hangouts from phones, tablets or computer browsers, and then the account can call or text through the Google Fi phone number. There’s a similar feature, Digits, available through T-Mobile, but Hangouts is definitely the superior option. With Google Fi, there’s voicemail transcription, and the transcripts are sent via text message.
Google Fi allows customers to purchase phones directly from Google or bring their own devices. However, the phone selection is very limited. The customer can purchase the Pixel 2 XL, the Pixel 3, the Pixel 3 XL or the Moto G6, or bring one of those phones if they already own it. Google Fi also works with a lot of other Android phones, and works with some iPhone models now too, although they caution that the technology in the iPhones is not designed to take full advantage of the Google Fi Network.
There is a bit of a workaround if the user activates a Google Fi SIM card in a Pixel, and then switches it into another phone. People have made reports about this, with some even using iPhones with Google Fi. The issue is that the user won’t be able to jump from network to network if they do this. They’ll be missing out on one of Google Fi’s biggest advantages.
Fantastic Customer Satisfaction Ratings – But Are They Accurate?
When it comes to customer surveys, Google Fi does extremely well. Users have ranked Google Fi as superior to Verizon in terms of coverage and faster than T-Mobile. There’s a discrepancy, though, because tests don’t support this. Users are essentially rating Google Fi as far better than its performance really is. There are a few potential reasons why this is occurring.
Google Fi is about as user-friendly as it gets. It has an excellent management apps, which puts the apps of other carriers to shame. The typical carrier app is awkward and hard to use. Google Fi’s app puts all the important information front and center, and it lets the user make adjustments with ease. If the user wants to contact support, the app lists estimated response times if the user calls, emails or accesses live chat. And Google has some very helpful forums related to Google Fi, as well.
Another important point to note is that Google Fi tends to have a tech-savvy userbase. One look through it forums can confirm this. Since Google has many profitable ventures and Google Fi still has a fairly small number of customers, it can provide excellent support to every customer.
Since there are only a few phones that work with Google Fi and they’re all on the newer side, it makes sense that the carrier would score well for speed and coverage. A carrier like T-Mobile has some customers who use recent phones, and others who stick to older models. Those older models don’t work as well because they don’t have the latest technology. Google Fi doesn't have that problem.
Google Fi vs. Project Fi
Google Fi and Project Fi are the same thing. The carrier started out as Project Fi, but changed their name to Google Fi in November 2018.
Google Fi has some minor issues. It’s not the lowest-priced option on the market, it doesn't offer a plan with unlimited data and there are carriers with superior coverage. But its service plan simplifies wireless coverage as much as possible, and both its app and its customer support are topnotch. The coverage will beat that of Sprint, T-Mobile or U.S. Cellular, and depending on the customer’s data needs, it may be the cheaper option compared to the major carriers. For customers who fit the target market, Google Fi is a high-quality cell phone service provider that will likely make them very happy.
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