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Computer Technology

Project Fi — Google’s New, Ambitious Cell Service, With A Catch…

 

Project Fi - Fi

Project Fi is Google’s Official Cellular Service

Project Fi is designed to be a very cost-effective, comprehensive, yet simple to use service.  From my experience, signing up was a breeze, transferring my cell number from another carrier was quick & painless, and monitoring my account via the Project Fi website was easy — including billing and support. Any questions I had were only a phone call away, 24 hours a day.

So far, so good, however…

Project Fi at first blush appears to be a wonderful, end-to-end service, but there is one painful catch — it’s still beta. Google has always had a penchant for offering products to the public while they are still technically beta. Usually, it’s no big deal, but Project Fi being beta proved to be too much for me.

My grand plan to give my Nexus 6 to my mother to replace her non-smartphone Tracfone, buy a new Nexus 6P for myself, leave T-Mobile to save on monthly bills, and move both of us to Project Fi, completely bombed after less than two weeks using Project Fi.


Throughout the First 2 Weeks On Project Fi There Were Unbearable Problems

  • When trying to make phone calls, circuits were often busy — resulting in being unable to connect to phone numbers.
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  • Messaging was down systemwide, for days — so no SMS texting could be used.
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  • Billing has limitations — I couldn’t charge my mother’s Project Fi account to my credit card without causing her Google Play account to default to my credit card, even after adding her credit card to her Google Play and trying to make her card the default. Google Fi said it was a limitation of the system at present.
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  • I gave my mother my paid-off Nexus 6 to use on Project Fi, but they don’t currently offer insurance (they said it was a feature they would have at some undisclosed time in the future), so my mother had to go without insurance on the Nexus 6.
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  • Often when I called with an issue, the Project Fi support staff would remind me it’s currently a beta service — after awhile, it sounded like a lousy excuse for one problem after another.
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  • Trying to rely on a beta, aka often broken service, for my production cell service wound up being untenable — both for me and for my mother, who I had convinced Project Fi would be a great cell service.
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  • I bought a new Nexus 6P based on glowing reviews, but to expressly use on Project Fi.
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  • Due to the nonstop Project Fi problems, I sent my Nexus 6P back to the Google Store, took my Nexus 6 back from my mother, went back to T-Mobile (and settled for paying much more per month, but to be using a true production service, not a beta service), and my mother went back to her limited, non-smartphone Tracfone and Tracfone cell service.

 Key Project Fi Features (Wonderful in Theory)

  • Automatic Wi-Fi connections, and Wi-Fi tethering to use your phone as a hotspot.
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  • Extended 4G LTE network coverage through agreements with T-Mobile and Sprint (you can view Project Fi coverage in the US).
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  • Access cellular coverage in 120+ countries.
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  • One simple plan, Fi Basics for $20/month, unlimited domestic talk and text, data costs $10/month per GB.
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  • Service is prepaid, so any data unused Fi will refund the cost; if you use more than expected, you will be charged only amount used.
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  • Currently only available on the Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X and Nexus 6 — with plans to expand to other phones over time.

Project Fi Service

 

About Gary Reiner

thinking, reading, and writing about whatever's going on in the world...

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