Google’s plan to unite the world under it’s affordable Project Fi cellular service plan is slowly coming to fruition.
Today, Google announced that Americans traveling in Europe will have uncapped access to cellular networks. Previously, Project Fi offered overseas data but capped it at 2G speeds. Today’s announcement allows US users to have full speed access to 4G networks abroad.
This is made possible with Google’s partnership with T-Mobile and Three, one of the largest cellular carriers in Europe. Today’s announcement added 15 countries to Project Fi’s service, bringing the total of supported countries up to 135. Unfortunately, Project Fi service is still only available in the US for now, though today’s announcement may point to European availability eventually.
How Project Fi works
Project Fi is different from traditional carriers in that it offers service for a flat rate of $20 (about £13, AU$25) per month for talk, text, Wi-Fi tethering and international coverage. If you need data, it costs $10 (about £6, AU$12) per GB of data. Google will actually give you back money for unused data to be used for next month’s carrier charges. If you go over your data cap, you’ll only be charged for the amount you used. For example, going over 350MB results in a $3.50 charge. Best of all, there’s no contract so you can leave any time.
Google’s carrier also uses unique technology to seamlessly hop between Wi-Fi hotspots and cellular coverage. By default, Project Fi makes calls over your home Wi-Fi, and will transition seamlessly to a wireless carrier when you move out of range. This helps you avoid blowing past your data cap. As a result, Project Fi only works with three phones at the moment: the Nexus 6, Nexus 5x and Nexus 6P.
For more about how Google’s cell network works, check out our Google Project Fi guide.
Pushing the competition
While Google still views Project Fi as an experiment, it shows other carriers that it’s possible to charge reasonable prices for world-wide data. T-Mobile also offers unlimited data overseas, but caps speeds at 2G. However, the uncarrier is currently offering customers unlimited 4G data in Europe between July and August, just in time for summer vacation.
Other competitors, like AT&T and Verizon do not currently offer free overseas data but offer packages. AT&T charges $40 (about £30, AU$52) for unlimited texting, $1 per minute talk, and 200MB of data. Verizon also offers a similar $40 international package, but gives customers 100 minutes, 100 sent texts, unlimited received texts and 100MB of data. Both of these plans pale in comparison to Project Fi’s affordability.
Google says it has no plans to expand the service to other phones, but we’re hoping the company will at least bring the service to countries outside the US.
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