Following on from the excitement and popularity that surrounded Google Fibre the internet giants have unveiled plans to run a mobile network in the US, named Project Fi.
Google’s network will aim to set itself out from the competition by bringing together a plethora of resources that are already available and rolling them into a low-cost monthly plan, which will of course place Google’s products at its heart.
The Californian powerhouse is avoiding the need to build their own infrastructure from ground up by renting the services of two of the largest operators in the US, T-Mobile and Sprint, in theory this will result in a higher level of coverage and improved performance for Product Fi adopters.
Google will also piggy back the million wifi hotspots that the company have verified across the States, moving customers between connections to ensure that the strongest and fastest option is always favoured.
Wifi actually plays a key part of Project Fi, with customers being able to makes calls and texts directly through a Wifi connection, without the need for an additional app – this is a move that some UK companies have started to roll out and means that calls and texts can be picked up where there is a Wifi hotspot but no mobile connection (a tube station for example).
Another feature that is being flaunted over here in the UK is the ability for Project Fi customers to use their number across Google services, meaning that you can call and text from a tablet or desktop via Google’s Hangout service – this is a feature that UK-based O2 have been pushing extensively for around a year.
The pricing plans for Google’s Project Fi will be another factor that may turn the head of a number of US consumers, as the company will offer users ‘data refunds’, meaning that they are not charged for data that they do not use.
Data refunds play out via a base rate of $20 for unlimited calls and texts, customers can then unlock data across the US for an additional $10, before adding data for $10 per gigabyte; let’s say a customer preloads 2GB of data for $20 but only uses 1GB, they would be eligible for a $10 data refund.
One caveat of this deal is that it is exclusive to consumers using one of Google’s own handsets, the Nexus 6, for the time being.
Much like any big business rollout, this exclusive offering enables Google to test the waters before jumping in and offering Project Fi across the entire market – it’s likely that they will await feedback from dedicated Google customers (those who rushed out to purchase the latest Google Nexus) to fix any reported issues before rolling the service out to users of other Android devices.
With an interesting pricing model and a raft of features from a trusted name it is likely that Project Fi will take off in a big way, however at this moment in time we will have to wait from the sidelines until Google rolls out the service to other handsets before we can judge the impact this may have on the market.