As rumored, Google on Wednesday took the wraps off its new wireless service, called Project Fi, and it offers a new take on how users pay for data.
Project Fi is invite-only for now, and it offers just one type of plan that costs a $20 a month, plus $10 for every gigabyte (GB) of data, Google revealed in a blog post. The big innovation: Google will refund, in the form of a credit, any money spent on data you didn’t use. That’s a significant change from the major carriers, whose revenues depend on charging a flat monthly fee for big buckets of data.
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Recently, some carriers — T-Mobile and AT&T in particular — have begun offering data rollover, but pay-as-you-go takes data fees into new territory, and could be desirable to subscribers who rarely, if ever, go above their monthly data limits.
Google is able to offer wireless service by being a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) — similar to Virgin Mobile and Republic Wireless — which means it leases network resources from other providers, in this case Sprint and T-Mobile. That lets Google switch from network to network to ensure its subscribers get the best signal. Project Fi will also incorporate Wi-Fi to ease the data burden, switching between Wi-Fi and cellular networks on the fly, and giving users automatic connectivity to over a million public hotspots. Google says it will encrypt data connections to enhance security.
The Project Fi site shows that Google is offering coverage nationwide, although whether or not you’ll have 4G LTE connectivity varies by region, as it also does with the major carriers… see more