TechWire

Google Project Fi

Google has been keeping itself busy – and keeping traditional telcos on their toes as well – with quite a few connectivity projects, ranging from Google Fiber to Project Loon. Google is a company looking to connect everyone. One of the latest ventures is Project Fi, which is Google’s foray into mobile networks. Google’s Fi Network basically acts as a separate operator, to which your phone can connect and use – to make calls, SMS or browse the internet.
So how does one sign up for the Fi Network? Well, for the moment, the service is only available in the US and in areas where the Fi Network has coverage, and sign up is also limited by an invitation-only policy, at this early stage.

Access Network

Connectivity to the Fi Network is through Wi-Fi and the LTE networks of mobile operators Sprint and T-Mobile. Google has an agreement with these operators to use their existing network infrastructure, acting as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO). The FI Network switches between the better of the two operator networks, ensuring that you get the best possible network connectivity (if 4G is not available, you will be switched to 3G or 2G).

When on the Fi Network, you will automatically be connected to free, open Wi-Fi hotspots that Google has verified as fast and reliable. This is convenient, as whenever you’re on Wi-Fi, you’re not charged for data usage. As per the Project Fi team, there are more than a million of these hotspots around the US.

If you are concerned about security on open Wi-Fi networks, Google has ensured data is secured through encryption using Virtual Private Network (VPN).

Just another MVNO?

Google never follows the norm, and neither does it’s Fi Network Plan – the Fi Basics for $20/month includes unlimited domestic talk and text, unlimited international texts, Wi-Fi tethering to use your phone as a hotspot and access cellular coverage in 120+ countries. Data (charged if you use it over a cellular network) has to be purchased as an extra package, with 1GB of data costing $10. [1]This is a departure from the contract-based and more expensive plans offered by other operators in the US (makes you glad you don’t have pay those data rates in SL).

This is a departure from the contract-based and more expensive plans offered by other operators in the US (makes you glad you don’t have pay those data rates in SL).

Google has also come up with an innovative package which credits cash towards your next bill for any unused data from your monthly package.

fi

Devices

The Nexus 6 is the only smartphone currently supported by Project Fi’s early access network. The Nexus 6 works with a separate SIM that enables access to multiple networks, and has a cellular radio unit designed to work with different 4G network bands/types in the US and abroad, as required for the Fi Network.

The specially designed SIM can store up to 10 network profiles, which enables seamless toggling between different networks.

Another innovative step is that the phone number works with more than just your phone. Google stores your phone number in its data centers, which allows you to connect any device that supports Google Hangouts (Android, iOS, Windows, Mac or Chromebook) to your number.

Making Calls

When on the Fi Network, your calls can be made over Wi-Fi with no separate app required, and your call will automatically switch between cellular and Wi-Fi networks based on the signal quality. If you are using any other device, you can make calls or message using your number in Google Hangouts. It should be noted that international calls over Wi-Fi will have an extra charge.

Conclusion

Google’s ultimate goal is to push people to spend more of their online lives using Google products, because when that happens, it brings more traffic to its search engine, YouTube, and other services such as Gmail and maps.

It will be interesting to see how the Fi Network will perform once it is opened up to more subscribers. Key to making the project Fi Network tempting to users will be the offer of high-speed data without being charged (on Wi-Fi). It remains to be seen if a high number of users can be sustained by the available open Wi-Fi networks. Google will also have looked at, or will be looking at, ways to optimally manage providing services to high data using/streaming subscribers as well as casual subscribers over its multi-network platform.

Mobile operators may also benefit in the short term by selling more network capacity to Google. However, if all goes well with Project Fi, Google could be pushing more people to using its networks, generating more ad revenues and creating a shakeup of the mobile network’s pricing model.

 

 

 Project Fi
Google has been keeping itself busy – and keeping traditional telcos on their toes as well – with quite a few connectivity projects, ranging from Google Fiber to Project Loon. Google is a company looking to connect everyone. One of the latest ventures is Project Fi, which is Google’s foray into mobile networks. Google’s Fi Network basically acts as a separate operator, to which your phone can connect and use – to make calls, SMS or browse the internet.
So how does one sign up for the Fi Network? Well, for the moment, the service is only available in the US and in areas where the Fi Network has coverage, and sign up is also limited by an invitation-only policy, at this early stage.
Access Network
Connectivity to the Fi Network is through Wi-Fi and the LTE networks of mobile operators Sprint and T-Mobile. Google has an agreement with these operators to use their existing network infrastructure, acting as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO). The FI Network switches between the better of the two operator networks, ensuring that you get the best possible network connectivity (if 4G is not available, you will be switched to 3G or 2G).
When on the Fi Network, you will automatically be connected to free, open Wi-Fi hotspots that Google has verified as fast and reliable. This is convenient, as whenever you’re on Wi-Fi, you’re not charged for data usage. As per the Project Fi team, there are more than a million of these hotspots around the US.
If you are concerned about security on open Wi-Fi networks, Google has ensured data is secured through encryption using Virtual Private Network (VPN).
Just another MVNO?
Google never follows the norm, and neither does it’s Fi Network Plan – the Fi Basics for $20/month includes unlimited domestic talk and text, unlimited international texts, Wi-Fi tethering to use your phone as a hotspot and access cellular coverage in 120+ countries. Data (charged if you use it over a cellular network) has to be purchased as an extra package, with 1GB of data costing $10. [1] This is a departure from the contract-based and more expensive plans offered by other operators in the US (makes you glad you don’t have pay those data rates in SL!).
Google has also come up with an innovative package which credits cash towards your next bill for any unused data from your monthly package.
Devices
The Nexus 6 is the only smartphone currently supported by Project Fi’s early access network. The Nexus 6 works with a separate SIM that enables access to multiple networks, and has a cellular radio unit designed to work with different 4G network bands/types in the US and abroad, as required for the Fi Network.
The specially designed SIM can store up to 10 network profiles, which enables seamless toggling between different networks.
Another innovative step is that the phone number works with more than just your phone. Google stores your phone number in its data centers, which allows you to connect any device that supports Google Hangouts (Android, iOS, Windows, Mac or Chromebook) to your number.
Making Calls
When on the Fi Network, your calls can be made over Wi-Fi with no separate app required, and your call will automatically switch between cellular and Wi-Fi networks based on the signal quality. If you are using any other device, you can make calls or message using your number in Google Hangouts. It should be noted that international calls over Wi-Fi will have an extra charge.
Conclusion
Google’s ultimate goal is to push people to spend more of their online lives using Google products, because when that happens, it brings more traffic to its search engine, YouTube, and other services such as Gmail and maps.
It will be interesting to see how the Fi Network will perform once it is opened up to more subscribers. Key to making the project Fi Network tempting to users will be the offer of high-speed data without being charged (on Wi-Fi). It remains to be seen if a high number of users can be sustained by the available open Wi-Fi networks. Google will also have looked at, or will be looking at, ways to optimally manage providing services to high data using/streaming subscribers as well as casual subscribers over its multi-network platform.
Mobile operators may also benefit in the short term by selling more network capacity to Google. However, if all goes well with Project Fi, Google could be pushing more people to using its networks, generating more ad revenues and creating a shakeup of the mobile network’s pricing model.

Reference
[1] https://fi.google.com/about/faq/#plan-and-pricing-1
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tech/tech-news/Inside-Googles-Project-Fi/articleshow/47161570.cms

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Nafli

A technology enthusiast engaged in the Telecom industry, working at Dialog Axiata. Entered the Telecom Industry as a Network Planning Engineer and is currently working in Technology Delivery.

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