Project Fi is Fi-a-licious

posted by Jeff | Monday, February 20, 2017, 10:37 PM | comments: 0

Back in December, when I decided to unnecessarily purchase a Pixel phone, I wrote about how we were also switching from AT&T to Google's Project Fi, the pseudo-carrier that actually works on the networks of T-Mobile, Sprint and US Cellular (and WiFi if you've got it). There's a lot of talk in the press right now about the sudden unlimited data wars now between the big carriers, which are actually not a terrible deal, but we're still making out pretty well on Fi, and this is why.

We're not big data users. I work from home, Diana works part-time, and we're pretty much always around WiFi. Our local cable company has access points almost everywhere, too, so I find myself on WiFi even when I'm not looking for it. We're not going out of our way to really measure our cellular data usage, but we didn't use much when we had 15 gigs pooled to play with on AT&T. Now that we've had a full month both on the new service, using about 1.4 gigs combined, we paid all of $56 for the two lines, including all taxes and fees. That's not bad. On AT&T, we would have been paying about $95 when it was all done.

The WiFi calling has been a huge plus. Florida houses are practically Faraday cages, because they're concrete on the lower floor and lined with foil. It doesn't matter who your carrier is, the signal isn't good unless you're by a window. Google's network foo generally works well in that sense, though there have been a few odd times where the signal was too weak and it didn't fallback on WiFi, so I've missed one call. It was spam anyway. Sometimes, I just put the phone in airplane mode and turn on the WiFi at home, which works very well, and the call quality is a miracle. Oh, it's nice to use Android's native visual voicemail, too, for those annoying times when someone leaves a message. The transcription is surprisingly accurate, too.

I have to mention the international support. It just works. We were in the Bahamas a few weekends ago on a Disney cruise, and at Castaway Cay, we had a nice strong 3G connection that was more than adequate for posting selfies on the beach and backing up photos. The Fi app greets you on the new network, tells you what the rates are (unlimited texts, 20 cents/minute for voice calls, data at the same rate as the US). That's pretty cool. I was very impressed. And again, even in that vacation situation, we still paid the $56 for the month.

I have hit some spots that weren't super strong for cellular signal, but they were rural places where no network is great. When we were on the far side of the dunes at the Canaveral National Seashore, it was tough to get a signal, but it's unsurprising because of how far "out there" you are. Everywhere else, like downtown Orlando, Delray or even The Villages has been fine. WDW is covered pretty well too, though they have free WiFi everywhere.

Overall, we've been really happy with the service. I like the little widget their app comes with too, with a circular data usage meter. Almost a week into this month and we've only used .18 gigs. I realize for big data users, this is likely totally inadequate, at $10/gig, but this suits us fine. I think competition is finally driving prices down, though I wonder how that will go during the 5G rollouts a few years from now.

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