What is Google's Project Fi and How Does it Work?

Andreas Rivera
business.com writer
Mar 01, 2018
Image Credit: SFIO CRACHO/Shutterstock

Could Google's phone network be a viable option for your company phone?

Google has stepped into the mobile phone business with the launch of its mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), a phone carrier service that licenses the use of other carriers' networks.

Google Fi runs on T-Mobile, Sprint and U.S. Cellular, switching between the different networks to maintain the strongest connection. Google Fi is compatible with certain phones and devices, primarily the Google Pixel and Motorola Nexus lines of phones.

Billing is based on a flat rate of $20 per month for unlimited talk and text. Data is charged by how much you use, starting at $10 per GB. If you use less than what you paid for, the remainder is put into a credit that's applied to your next bill.

Project Fi recently launched a feature called Bill Protection: After using 6GB of data for $60 on a single device, the rest of that month's data is unlimited. Google states that after 15GB that users may experience slowdown, but also notes that less than 1 percent of users go over 15GB per month.

An additional five lines can be added for $15 per month, each. These lines all share from the same pool of data, with the required amount for Bill Protection increased with each line added. Certain tablets, including the iPad can also be added to the data plan. The website has calculator to show you how much you'd pay each month with the amount of data you use and number of lines on your plan. [Read related story: Best Business Phone Systems]

Is it good for business?

As of right now, Project Fi doesn't have a specified pricing plan for businesses. However, that doesn't mean you won't find some value in signing up for an account for business purposes. Certain features can make Project Fi a good investment for businesses, especially ones that require employees to travel.

International travel: Perhaps one of Project Fi's most valuable features is that data used abroad is the same domestically. There are no extra fees or data caps when traveling in a qualifying country. Texting is also unlimited and calls are typically charged at 20 cents per minute, with different rates in certain countries. This feature is available for more than 170 countries and territories.

If you or other employees frequently travel abroad for business purposes, this phone plan can save you money by getting rid of the need to buy expensive international plans for your phone or local SIM cards with constraining data caps.

Save money if you're frequently within range of Wi-Fi: If you're in need of a business phone, but don't need a lot of data because you're constantly in range of Wi-Fi, Project Fi's pay-for-what-you-use mentality could make your phone bill the cheapest it's ever been. At the base price of $20 for talk and text, your bill can end up being as cheap as $25 if you only use 0.5GB of data, not including taxes. Google prorates its data, so they won't round-up your data usage.

Easy sign up: Signing up for a Project Fi account takes only minutes, as opposed to spending an hour on the phone with sales representatives with the major carriers. Input your basic information and after a quick credit check, and you're in. There is no complicated contract signing process, and no cancellation fee if you decide to drop it. If you have a compatible phone already, they will ship you their special SIM card, or you can select from a range of phones on Google's Shop site.

Free Wi-Fi hotspot: Unlike many carriers, Project Fi doesn't charge any extra fees or impose caps when using a phone as a Wi-Fi Hotspot. The data used by your other devices through your phone is applied as normal to your data pool.

Potential cons

There are some things to consider before jumping into Project Fi as a business account, which again doesn't have a specified business plan.

Maximum number of lines: Project Fi is limited to six lines per account. If you need more than that for your office, you'll need open completely different account and pay the initial price along with taxes. This makes it more ideal for small businesses that only need one or two company phones.

Limited phone options: Project Fi is only compatible with a limited list of phones. Apple's iPhones are not compatible as are most other major phone brands. If you're fine with purchasing a new phone and adding a payment plan to your monthly bill then it shouldn't be a problem, but if you're not a fan of the compatible phones or were hoping to save money by using a previous phone, Project Fi is unlikely to be a fit for you.

Andreas Rivera
Andreas Rivera
Andreas Rivera graduated from the University of Utah with a B.A. in Mass Communication and is now a staff writer for Business.com and Business News Daily. His background in journalism brings a critical eye to his reviews and features, helping business leaders make the best decisions for their companies.
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