How reliable is Google's Project Fi

Google is becoming a mobile operator with Project Fi and could shake up the market quite a bit - the end of roaming is near.

Google is becoming a mobile operator. What has been circulating as a rumor for a few weeks is now official. With Project Fi, Google is opening up another field that they want to shake up with new ideas and corresponding financial strength: the mobile communications sector.

Google cooperates with Sprint and T-Mobile

The idea behind Project Fi is as simple as it is ingenious. Users pay US $ 20 a month and get access to Google's new Fi network. This consists of more than a million WiFi hotspots that can be used for surfing and making calls. For 10 US dollars per gigabyte (up to 3 gigabytes are possible) you get access to the LTE networks from the two large US cellular providers Sprint and T-Mobile. This makes it possible for users to automatically switch back and forth between WLAN and LTE connection so that they always have the fastest network available.

The costs don't seem very cheap, but it is quite common in the US for customers to pay $ 60 or more a month for their mobile phone contracts. For the USA this is actually an attractive price structure, in Europe it would still have to be revised - provided the service ever makes it across the Atlantic.

Two further details that distinguish Google's Project Fi from the competition are, on the one hand, that the unused data volume is credited and, on the other hand, the possibility of using the service to the full extent abroad without incurring roaming charges.

The future of the project is uncertain

In theory, Project Fi is a very exciting competition to the usual mobile communications offers, but in practice there are some points that cast doubt on whether Google can actually make a difference in the mobile communications industry and especially in terms of tariffs.

Probably the biggest limitations are the territorial limitation to the USA and the limited usability to only one compatible device. The fact that Google is initially only starting the service in the USA is a shame from a European point of view, but ultimately understandable, because such a service requires a lot of planning. Deals have to be concluded with mobile network operators so that nationwide use is possible.

Whether this is currently the case, however, can be doubted, because the specified one million WLAN hotspots, which are classified by Google as fast and reliable enough, are distributed over 120 countries in which the service can be used. And even if that number were only distributed in the USA, this is not exactly a high density of hotspots in such a large country. For comparison, Deutsche Telekom alone has around 300,000 hotspots in Germany. And then the service can only be used with the Nexus 6 at the beginning. Other devices are to follow, but initially the possible user group is deliberately kept very small.

"Roaming has no future"

Personally, I'm skeptical that Project Fi will catch on. Not because I don't think the service is good, but rather because the limitations are too great and the user base will initially be too small to actually have an impact on the industry.

If Google succeeds in expanding the service quickly and increasing the number of users properly, it is still unclear how the two mobile communications partners Sprint and T-Mobile will react, because after all, Google is taking away potential customers and sources of income from them. No matter how it turns out, EU Digital Commissioner G√ľnther Oettinger is sure, "Roaming has no future„.

Teaser & Image "Project Fi" by Google

Daniel Kuhn

is a Berliner by choice and has worked from there as a tech editor since 2010. Initially, Google's Android OS was completely inoperative, but the career changer and notorious self-taught person is increasingly looking into the question of what we do with the smart mobile devices, why, and how secure our data actually is. Member of the Netzpiloten Blogger Network.

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Keywords: google, communication, mobile communications, project fi, roaming