Google has confirmed earlier rumors that it was planning to launch its own wireless service. Project Fi is a virtual network that provides calls, texts, and data like other carriers, but the main feature of the service is that it will drastically simplify and potentially cheapen the user's bill, by asking customers to pay for the basic service and only for the amount of data they use in the month.
Running on top of Sprint and T-Mobile's wireless networks, Project Fi will automatically switch between the carriers and Wi-Fi hotspots, depending on which provides the user with the fastest service. Smartphones using the Project Fi software will be able to automatically connect to more than one million free Wi-Fi hotspots, with connections encrypted when on the public connection, and Google promises calls will seamlessly switch between hotspots and cellular service without user intervention.
Users will also be able to benefit from not having to use their smartphone to make or receive calls or texts. Devices supporting Google Hangouts, including computers and other mobile devices, can connect to the user's account and use them for calls and texts instead.
There are two components to the cost of the Project Fi plan. The Fi Basics includes unlimited domestic talk and texts, unlimited international texts, low-cost international calls, and Wi-Fi tethering for $20 per month. Users then add data to the plan at a flat rate of $10 per gigabyte, with unused data allowances credited back to the user for their next bill. In months where the subscriber goes over their paid data allowance, an extra charge will be applied to the next bill, at the same flat rate.
Initially, only the Nexus 6 will be usable with the Project Fi SIM card, with customers able to buy the smartphone either outright or in monthly installments added to their bill. Google is charging $27.04 per month for 24 months for the 32GB model, while the 64GB version will cost $29.12 per month, or $650 and $700 as up-front charges respectively. Existing Nexus 6 owners can sign up to use the service with their device.
At the moment, Google is operating Project Fi on an invitational basis, but has set up a signup page, to which it will send out more invitations to registrants every week.