back to article Hi, Fi: Google JOWL-SLAPS mobile bigguns with $20/mo wireless service

Google has confirmed it will square up to the mobile carrier world with its own service – "Project Fi" – although for the time being this will be a limited pilot program. Fi, which was murmured about by the Wall Street Journal and others this year, is the Chocolate Factory's attempt to shake up the world of mobile data, much …

  1. John H Woods Silver badge

    Wow!

    The Americans sure pay for their data: I use anything from 10 to 30GB per month for £15 in the UK; Hell, I even get some calls and texts thrown in! $10/GB? And it's competitive? Please tell me it's a misprint!

    1. jamesb2147

      Re: Wow!

      Not a misprint, we just like our Chocolate, and enjoy paying for it!

      This is actually really interesting news. It's a hybrid of the business plans of Ting (variable month-to-month pricing without penalties), T-Mobile (free international texts and data), and Apple (special SIM card). It's also literally been a discussion since at least the original iPhone, when Jobs allegedly considered creating an MVNO for his network of iThings. That plan was probably scrapped when he had trouble even getting a single carrier to agree to Apple's *other* conditions for carrying the iPhone, like control over software updates, and prepurchasing millions of the suckers at a time.

      1. Decade
        IT Angle

        Re: Wow!

        It's a hybrid of the business plans of Ting (variable month-to-month pricing without penalties), T-Mobile (free international texts and data), and Apple (special SIM card).

        Not to mention Republic Wireless. In fact, a few days ago, Republic Wireless announced that they intended to start testing a cell phone plan that pays you back for data you don’t use. The concept renderings show that they might give you control over which processes are allowed to use cell data.

        In the meanwhile, Republic Wireless already has WiFi to cell handover, and $25/month (before taxes) gives unlimited minutes and texts and data at 3G speeds. That’s only 500MB on Google’s plan. $40/month gets unlimited 4G on Republic Wireless, but only 2GB on Google Fi. I’m not especially tempted by Google.

        The downsides of Republic Wireless are that it’s Sprint-only, you have to buy a Republic Wireless phone with a Republic Wireless firmware that is several months behind Google and Motorola’s firmware releases, handover is not actually seamless in my experience, and there’s practically no roaming. I’m willing to overlook a lot, though, because I’m personally on the $10/month (before taxes) no-data plan. That’s half of Google Fi before data.

        1. Decade
          Paris Hilton

          Re: Wow!

          Republic Wireless… unlimited minutes and texts and data at 3G speeds… $40/month gets unlimited 4G…

          Ugh. Republic Wireless still advertises “unlimited,” but they actually limit it to 5GB now. It’s in the small print. Still, more data for the money than Google, and the no-data plans are cheaper.

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: Wow!

            >It's a hybrid of the business plans of Ting (variable month-to-month pricing without penalties), T-Mobile (free international texts and data), and Apple (special SIM card).

            The difference is, Google isn't doing this to make money directly. Google is doing this to put pressure on the established network operators to give users a better deal on data (and therefore use Google's core services more).

            I I find most interesting is the flexibility: Going to work? Grab your normal smartphone on the way out of your house. Going camping? Grab the toughphone with the big battery. Going out to get really really drunk? Grab the cheap, lightweight semi-expendable phone.

            1. big_D Silver badge

              Re: Wow!

              @Dave126 except there is no data in the basic package... And it will only be available (currently) on the Nexus 6. (According to the official Google blog)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wow!

      I'm scoffing at the Wi-Fi calling phenomenon. Where I live I have my own locked down Wi-Fi, and a couple of weak signals from neighbors, also with secured Wi-Fi (most routers must be including password protection by default these days if normies are using it).

      In fact, what's with this "million free, open Wi-Fi hotspots we've verified as fast and reliable"? Is this the ripened fruit of the Google Maps drive-by scandal?

      1. Jim Mitchell

        Re: Wow!

        I doubt these are residential Wifi hotspots. I suspect Google has paid Cablevision, etc, that operate large networks of hotspots for access to their networks. Cablevision (optimum) claims to have 1 million:

        http://wifi.aiprx.optimum.com/home-internet-service/wifi-service.jsp?bsp=wifi&aitrk=wifi&s_cid=ai_wifi&teng=go&geng=c8707_Optimum_WiFi_EC_NP_Optimum_WiFi&aeng=6&keng=optimum%20wifi&meng=p

    3. bazza Silver badge

      Re: Wow!

      The Americans sure pay for their data: I use anything from 10 to 30GB per month for £15 in the UK

      Yep, recently had a conversation with an American along similar lines. He couldn't believe it, properly gobsmacked! I told him that that's what you get when you win a revolutionary war of independence, that they only have themselves to blame for their weak and feeble government...

      What they need over there is a good dose of UK / european style (and very nearly communistical) market regulation!

      Mind you, if you think $10/GB is a lot, you should see what they pay in Japan. And if you go there leave roaming data on, be prepared for an apocalyptically sphincter tightening bill. £2000 in two weeks is not unusual for a busy business trip. If you ever go there be sure to rent a SIM at the airport with a decent data allowance, or better still pre-arrange one (£150 / week unlimited data is achievable).

    4. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Wow!

      @John, my first thought as well, my private phone is 19€ a month, unlimited calls, unlimited texts, unlimited data (2GB full speed limit, then throttled).

      $19 with no data and $10 per GB sounds like a very poor deal.

      And unlimited international SMS? What is the difference? An SMS is an SMS, I've never had a contract (since 1993), where sending an international SMS was more expensive.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    creepy

    Now google can listen to your calls and sell information about what you discuss in your most private conversations. And they want you to pay them for this intrusion? No thanks!

    1. Dr Stephen Jones

      Re: creepy

      Google already knows where every Android user is and if they have just visited their secret girlfriend.

      This just takes care of the non-Android users.

      1. rcp27

        Re: creepy

        How does this take care of non-Android users, when it only works with a Nexus 6 handset?

  3. Barry Rueger Silver badge

    I'm torn....

    On one hand, I really don't want any more Google tentacles in my life. I'm already trying to extract myself from as much of the Googleverse as is practical.

    Still, as a victim of the Canadian cel phone triumvirate I would be VERY interested in this.

    Right now I pay $50 CDN/month, which includes TWO GIGABYTES of data. Adding another couple of gigs would cost me half that much again.

    If I wanted a "free" phone I would have to cancel this plan, and open a new one which would - I kid you not - increase my monthly spend to $100 for exactly the same package.

    Needless to say I'm now among those who buys phones outright and who will hang on to this grandfathered plan until the execs at Telus are long dead.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm torn....

      Soylent represent.

  4. Grade%
    Alien

    ...his sails unfurled

    Darmak and Jalad at Tanagra.

    I read this as a NA-ite and have to say, I like this gibberish! Fi!

  5. Christian Berger Silver badge

    Germany has a 3.99 Euro/month plan

    But they will shape your line down to 56k after the first 500 Megabytes or so. However since coverage is spotty in Germany anyhow, it doesn't make much difference whether you could theoretically transmit 56k or 10M.

  6. ilmari

    Nexus6 only because of the voice/sms over wifi, I think. The rest could be done for any cellphone with Google-operator SIM card.

  7. Big_Ted

    One thing not made clear

    As the phone connects to free wifi hotspots I assume the data usage is only when connected to and using the cell operators network.

    If not then are they saying they will charge you for free data usage on free wifi ?

    In Comparison BT Mobile offer non broadband customers a SIM only 12 month contract for £25, thats for unlimited calls and texts plus 20 GB of data, plus unlimited connection to BT Wifi with over 5 million hotspots and BT Sports. I have it and don't need home broadband or phone any more. Shows how bad a deal you get in the USA.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Its surprising Google don't provide a free wifi service that has only Googles services like gmail, search, Youtube etc. This would make any of Googles existing competition invisible and help cement Googles dominance.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      That might bring Google afoul of various Monopoly Commissions. Also, such a service couldn't be advertised as 'internet'. Thirdly, Google make money from people visiting the sites of companies who advertise on Google; an advert for BobsCarRental.com would be useless if the user couldn't visit it. Lastly, people remember the horror of walled gardens like AOL and CompuServe.

      Other than that, you plan's a good un!

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      This won't happen because it would mean either Google foots the data bill (YouTube videos) with carriers dictating the price; or Google would have to build its own network.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      We used to have one of those in the UK...

      It was called Three. When 3G first appeared, ISTR that the only network that had decent speed was Three, however, because they had a walled garden only on their handsets it made it pretty pointless.

      Once Voda/O2/Orange released full-fat 3G with internet access, it pretty much forced Three to do the same.

  9. Bob H

    If they come to the UK as the rumours suggest then I'll take it. I'm bored of all the roaming issues and coverage issues I get. The Nexus 6 is a bit big, so I hope they add support for my Nexus 5.

  10. Sporkinum

    Expensive, if you don't already own a Nexus 6, the only phone it works with. They will sell you one for $650, or maybe you could get one on Ebay for $500.

  11. Alistair Silver badge
    Coat

    googleplexworkx

    FD: ($70/month, unlimited NA wide calling, unlimited NA wide sms, 2Gb data, and pics in sms count as data folks)

    Living up north of the Land of the Free Corporations, and feeling more and more like they've bought and paid for all of our politicians, as attractive as the bundle might be, and like BarryR comments above, it sure is attractive, I'm still not interested in the plan. I've been trying to sever myself from googleplexity.

    Mind you, I *might* just scarf a nexus 6. Just because my 4 year old phone is 4 years old. Sad isn't it that our techie bits have such *buybuybuybuy* short lifecycles these days?

  12. PJF
    FAIL

    WiFi calling...

    The past couple/few months, I've been getting ads/spam from my local cable co. about their wifi phone, in the NE US.

    @ $10/month, (30 for non consumers) and a $100 (300 non consumer) moto G, you can yack, txt, d/l as much as you like (in their hot-sparseness)....

    No coverage @ work, (most of my calls/txts) and I WILL NOT open MY personal/home WiFi to world+dog+++!

    linky - https://freewheel.com/

    .

    Granted, goggle, would also have cell reception - IF you/I could get a signal.

    Working around A/C motors, in high frequency (Hz), inside a proverbial "brick sh.. house," with the associated noise - I'd be happy if I could hear and/or feel you call, no less hear you..

    @ the tone, please.....

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