Skip to Content

Google’s New Wireless Service Should Make Verizon and AT&T Squirm

Google is working with Sprint and T-Mobile to put you on the best available LTE network at any given time.
April 22, 2015

Google announced its new wireless service, Project Fi, on Wednesday. It will do something really smart: automatically route your data between available Wi-Fi networks and the 4G LTE networks run by its Fi partners, wireless carriers Sprint and T-Mobile, depending on which is the strongest wherever you are at the time.

If this works well, it could make it easier for people to get and stay connected over speedy networks, without having to worry as much about signal strength and dead zones on a specific carrier’s network. It could also make it cheaper and more efficient to run wireless networks by punting some traffic automatically over to Wi-Fi hotspots.

Another part of Fi that may be appealing to users is its simple, inexpensive billing structure. There’s no annual contract; rather, Google says it will charge $20 a month for unlimited calls, texts, Wi-Fi tethering, and coverage in over 100 countries (though you’ll have to pay 20 cents per minute for calls outside the United States), and it will charge $10 per gigabyte of data (you get a credit each month for any data you don’t use).

If this all sounds appealing, don’t get too excited just yet: for now, Fi is available by invitation only, and you’ll need Google’s Nexus 6 smartphone to use it even if you snag an invite. (Google says the Nexus 6 has a special SIM card that allows you to get on several networks and “has a state-of-the-art cellular radio tuned to work with different network types.”)

Still, the idea of wireless carriers working together to make it easier for you to communicate–and, in fact, to make it so you don’t have to think much at all about the technology making it possible for your texts, calls, and Periscope livestreams to get where they need to go–is intriguing. And whether or not Fi moves beyond its initial stage, this should make the two big U.S. wireless carriers who aren’t involved, Verizon and AT&T, squirm a bit.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

A Roomba recorded a woman on the toilet. How did screenshots end up on Facebook?

Robot vacuum companies say your images are safe, but a sprawling global supply chain for data from our devices creates risk.

A startup says it’s begun releasing particles into the atmosphere, in an effort to tweak the climate

Make Sunsets is already attempting to earn revenue for geoengineering, a move likely to provoke widespread criticism.

10 Breakthrough Technologies 2023

Every year, we pick the 10 technologies that matter the most right now. We look for advances that will have a big impact on our lives and break down why they matter.

These exclusive satellite images show that Saudi Arabia’s sci-fi megacity is well underway

Weirdly, any recent work on The Line doesn’t show up on Google Maps. But we got the images anyway.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.