Google is a web search engine. Google has an email service. Google also provides a web browser. In fact, Google has hundreds other products and services that you may have not even heard of. And in case you didn’t know, the Android operating system used to power your non-iPhone was developed by Google. Need us tell you about their Nexus smartphone? Soon, you may even drive a self-driving car made by Google.
But before that, let’s say hello to Google’s latest product – “Fi” Network. Although it is available in limited areas in the U.S. for the time being, Project Fi could potentially change the present wireless and cellphone services landscape, forever. Through partnership with T-Mobile and Sprint, Google’s Project Fi is also known as Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO). Confuse? Just forget about the technical jargon.
What this means is, Google now provides a new phone service whereby as a customer, you’re promised the highest-quality connection, based on your current location. The service will be intelligent enough to switch from one network to another network. It doesn’t matter what network that is around you. It could be a Wi-Fi spot or a particular 4G LTE network. The Fi technology will choose the fastest available network for you, automatically.
Google has so far identified more than 1 million free public hot spots. Basically, Google’s Fi technology combines the free public hot spots, T-Mobile’s LTE network and Sprint’s 4G LTE network as a single service for you. With Fi service, your phone number lives in the cloud, so you can talk and text with your number on just about any phone, tablet or laptop. This literally means you’re online 24-hours a day, 365-days a year.
If you’re already too excited that you actually orgasm, wait till you read about the plan costings. The basic Project Fi plan costs US$20 (£13.30, RM72.40) a month, which includes unlimited talk, text, Wi-Fi tethering and international coverage in more than 120 countries. The plan also comes with 24/7 support thrown in. And then it’s a flat US$10 (£6.65, RM36.20) per GB for cellular data while in the U.S. and abroad.
Here’s where the excitement kicks in. While you pay 10 bucks for every gigabyte of data you use in a month, you’ll get refund for unused data, and that’s really cool. So supposing you go with 3GB for US$30 and only use 1.4GB one month, you’ll get US$16 refund from Project Fi. So far, no other carrier does that (Republic Wireless did that less than 48 hours ago), and that’s precisely why players such as AT&T and Verizon are jumping mad.
However, there’s a catch. You must own a Nexus 6 to enjoy this services, for now. That’s because Nexus 6 owners can use a special Fi-SIM card that works seamlessly with Google’s verified hotspots. Since there’s absolutely no annual contract required for this service, Google is clearly undercutting and disrupting the present phone plans. A subscription to a basic US$20 + US$10 data plan means it’s between US$15 to US$20 a month cheaper.
Does this experiment make sense? Absolutely. Customers are moving away from the traditionally carrier-dependent platform for talk-and-text to free services offered by apps such as WhatsApp and Viber. Project Fi may not be able to swing significant subscribers from heavyweights such as AT&T and Verizon, but they surely can pressure these carriers to improve their internet services, not to mention the cost of their existing plans, just like how Google Fiber did it.
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