Google has been operating their own MVNO under the Project Fi brand now for three years and I have been using it since May 2016 (read my first piece back in 2016 here). The drawback of the service for a longtime was that you had to use it on specific Android devices (used to be Nexus only).
Google today announced that the new name of the service is Google Fi and it is now open for many phones including Apple and Samsung. There is also today only deal where you can get the price of your purchased phone back in Delta, Airbnb, Hotwire or Southwest gift cards excluding taxes.
You can access Google Fi here.
Here’s the announcement:
Here are the phones available from Google (you can get the price back in travel gift cards):
Note that you need to buy the phone today, activate it within 15 days of receiving and have the service for minimum of four months ($120++). Read the fine print.
Google Fi pricing:
You pay $20 for unlimited US calls and text. Then you pay $10 for 1GB of WORLDWIDE data in 170+ countries that is prorated (the reason why I have signed up for it).
You have data bill protection kicking in at 6GB ($60) and you can then use it at the same price for 15GB before Google will throttle the speed down. International roaming calls cost 20 cents per minute everywhere.
Here are the supported countries:
Only Nepal and Vietnam are the two countries that are not supported by the service that I have been to recently.
I don’t use the domestic calls or text in the US ($20) but do use the worldwide data that I rely on taking care of me EVERY DAY.
Previously, I had to buy number of SIM cards for many countries and regions but the Project Fi pricing (now Google Fi) is low enough that it is just not worth it anymore wasting time at the airports when you can go online immediately after landing.
You can get lower phone call pricing by using number of services but nothing beats able to use real service when you need one. 20 cents per minute is low enough price that at least I don’t care if I need to call to fix an issue with a ticket or make a business call. For Personal calls I tend to use Whatsapp or Messenger (free over data).
The Google Fi data can also be used for tethering (not blocked). Nothing beats able to get work done at the airport lounge when their WiFi is so bad that it is practically unusable or when the hotel internet connection is down.
The gift card deal for phones purchased today is very good. They haven’t subsidized phone purchases previously at all that may have slowed down the rollout. The beauty of Google Fi that you are not locked in for a contract (only two months if you participate to the gift card deal) versus year or two with traditional operators.