SAN FRANCISCO — Google has unveiled its hotly anticipated wireless service Project Fi to prod the telecom industry to make mobile service in the U.S. faster, easier and less expensive.
The Internet giant described the project as an opportunity to introduce “new ideas” and “to push the boundaries of what’s possible.”
Google says it has formed partnerships with Sprint and T-Mobile, which have agreed to carry the traffic for Project Fi.
Phones on the Fi service will switch between the two networks depending on which signal is stronger. Using Wi-Fi networks to route calls and data is also expected to lower subscribers’ cellular bills.
“Project Fi aims to put you on the best network wherever you go,” Nick Fox, Google’s vice president of communications products, wrote in a blog post.
Another key benefit of Project Fi: customers pay only for the amount of data they use each month.
Fi comes with one plan at one price, Google says. For $20 a month, subscribers get the basics: talk, text, Wi-Fi tethering and international coverage. It’s $10 per gigabyte of data after that for cellular data while in the U.S. and abroad. The plan refunds any data you don’t use.
Subscribers can also talk and text from your phone number on any phone, tablet or laptop.
Commenting on the news in a blog post, T-Mobile CEO John Legere said: “Project Fi is going to make people think differently about wireless—and I love that. Anything that shakes up the industry status quo is a good thing—for both US wireless customers and T-Mobile.”
Fi has been in the works for about two years. This is Google’s first move into wireless industry but its second move into telecom. It offers broadband Internet service in a handful of cities in the U.S. The competition in those markets has pushed rivals such as Comcast and AT&T to speed up their Internet service.
The biggest drawback: Fi is only available on the Nexus 6.
“In the near term, Project Fi will only be available on Nexus devices given the challenging set of hardware and software requirements to enable the Fi Network experience,” Google spokeswoman Chelsea Maughan said.
You can request an invite at https://fi.google.com/.
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