What is Google’s Project FI?

Last April, Google discreetly launched Project Fi in the United States, a boundary pushing mobile network that incorporates the advantages of both wireless internet and the coverage of several mobile networks combined.

Currently, most countries rely on several major phone operators, for example the UK has O2, Vodafone, EE and 3. The issue with this is that one single network cannot guarantee blanket coverage of phone signal all over the country. So to deal with this problem, Project Fi has teamed up with US mobile networks Sprint and T-Mobile to offer a more extensive range of coverage.

But that’s just a back-up. Project Fi prefers to use WiFi for network connection, so if you’re near a hotspot then your calls will be transmitted through the WiFi connection over a network connection.

The transition between networks is smooth, automatic and designed to give you maximum speed and clarity. Within the home or office, where walls and doors can prove an obstacle for mobile networks, WiFi is the fastest and most stable connection. Outside of hotspot zones, the phone will automatically seek out the strongest network connection and switch to that, all without any user input or even awareness. Encrypted information also maintains privacy when your phone enters a public WiFi zone.

The other main difference of Project Fi to current mobile network design is the pricing. The base price of Project Fi is $20 (£13.60) per month, offering unlimited calls, worldwide unlimited texts and data tethering, and then for data you pay $10 (£6.80) per gigabyte on top of that. But the real sunshine here is that you only pay for what you use. So say you paid $20 for 2GB of data. If you only used 1GB, then $10 would be returned to you as credit off your next bill, but if you went over that 2GB then you will pay for the exact amount you went over – $1 for each 0.1GB. Stress-free bills!

For business, the ideologies of Project Fi are a godsend. For one thing, who knows how much data you will require on any given day? With Project Fi there are no boundaries to restrict your data usage before it gets super expensive and you can even save money if you use under your predicted amount. But more than this, Project Fi’s final trick will streamline day-to-day business. The Project Fi network can be logged into by an app on any supporting device, meaning you can use the same number no matter which device you are using. This means you can be easily reached by all clients right across the board, without the added concern of checking a particular phone for different business relations. Combine this with maximum network coverage and you will never be un-contactable ever again.

So how has this innovative network been received? Trials in America have been largely positive in their outcome, for while the technology is somewhat complicated, the user experience is simple and unobtrusive. But can this work in the UK?

There are no specific plans as of yet to bring this over to Britain, but if they do then this could be revolutionary to mobile networks. On top of the unique benefits already listed, it could push current networks to cheaper and more efficient dimensions. O2 and Vodafone have already been working on combining their infrastructures, but imagine a super network made up of O2, Vodafone and BT’s Openzone network…

The only issue is their pricing plans. We here in the UK are blessed with cheaper network plans than the US, and that current pricing model is unlikely to be cheaper for any of us at the moment, despite its tailored design.

The concept, however, must be lauded and taken note of. For businesses this could mean faster, more widespread connection, with a more economical data model where businesses just pay for what they use. The world is becoming more fast-paced and competitive, and Project Fi could finally mean that mobile networks can keep up.

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