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Old 08-09-2016, 09:09   #1
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Experiences with Google's Project Fi

I have been experimenting with Google's Project Fi cellular service, and thought I would pass along some of my experience.

Project Fi is attractive to cruisers because it offers reasonably priced voice, SMS, and cellular data in more than 120 countries, including the Caribbean islands where we cruise. You can find out more at
fi.google.com


The short summary is that this is “By Americans, for Americans” and not really useful for those of us who live outside the US.


Google is very upfront about the fact that they only support two specific Google-branded cell phones: a Nexus 5X or a Nexus 6P. You can buy one of these phone from the Project Fi website, at a meaningful discount, but they only ship to US addresses.


Second, in order to apply for service you need a Google account that was created within the US. I solved this problem by creating a new account on one of our infrequent visits to see our daughter in the US.


As for the hardware, it says quite clearly on the Project Fi website that you can use an existing Nexus phone, and simply insert a new SIM card. Given the hassles of shipping and customs, it seemed easiest to source a Nexus phone from a local provider. The discount Google offers would be offset by not paying customs duty.



This was a big mistake. It turns out that there are two versions of each Nexus phone. One sold in the US, the other sold in the rest of the world. The “ROW” phones are not supported and do not work with Project Fi. Oops. This is actually disclosed in a Project Fi FAQ, but it is buried several layers down and extremely easy to miss.


As a final nail in the coffin, even if you get a US-sourced phone, you can only activate the service if you are physically located in the US.


If you are based in the US, or visit there often, I think this is a very reasonable option for cell service. For those of us who are there only occasionally or not at all, it is really completely useless.
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Old 08-09-2016, 09:25   #2
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Re: Experiences with Google's Project Fi

Thanks for that interesting report. Disappointing.

The good news for those cruising Europe is that all roaming charges will be abolished next year inside Europe. I have a Finnish prepaid data SIM that gives totally unlimited LTE data for 0.85 per day. No throttling or anything even if you use several gigabytes a day. If it really happens that I'll be able to use it on these terms Europe-wide, then it seems this problem is solved.

Sent from my D6633 using Cruisers Sailing Forum mobile app
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Old 08-09-2016, 09:36   #3
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Re: Experiences with Google's Project Fi

I just switched to google fi a couple months ago. I'm US based and have been very happy with the service so far. I have used cheaper US carriers before. I was only paying $12-17 per month with Republic Wireless. Now I'm paying $25-35. The huge advantage for me is I plan on travelling extensively and that you can use data in 130 countries without additional charges or switching out a sim card. Albeit, I think the data is limited to 3G speeds. Still worth it IMO.

With this service just starting it will be interesting to see how it changes in the coming years.
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Old 08-09-2016, 09:46   #4
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Re: Experiences with Google's Project Fi

Be aware that the new EU rules only apply to 90 days per year outside one's home country. They don't want to allow a race to the bottom that let's people pick the cheapest provider in the EU and then use it all year in their home country.
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Old 08-09-2016, 11:31   #5
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Re: Experiences with Google's Project Fi

this is good news my nexus 5 will be no longer supported by the new android OS and it has been getting glitchy looks to be a viable deal if looking at a new nexus phone anyway. I am state side and travel in some of the countries listed and i am a fan of nexus phones. Good find now for the hours of research....
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Old 09-09-2016, 09:15   #6
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Re: Experiences with Google's Project Fi

Quote:
Originally Posted by DMCantor View Post
I have been experimenting with Google's Project Fi cellular service, and thought I would pass along some of my experience.

Project Fi is attractive to cruisers because it offers reasonably priced voice, SMS, and cellular data in more than 120 countries, including the Caribbean islands where we cruise. You can find out more at
fi.google.com


The short summary is that this is “By Americans, for Americans” and not really useful for those of us who live outside the US.


Google is very upfront about the fact that they only support two specific Google-branded cell phones: a Nexus 5X or a Nexus 6P. You can buy one of these phone from the Project Fi website, at a meaningful discount, but they only ship to US addresses.


Second, in order to apply for service you need a Google account that was created within the US. I solved this problem by creating a new account on one of our infrequent visits to see our daughter in the US.


As for the hardware, it says quite clearly on the Project Fi website that you can use an existing Nexus phone, and simply insert a new SIM card. Given the hassles of shipping and customs, it seemed easiest to source a Nexus phone from a local provider. The discount Google offers would be offset by not paying customs duty.



This was a big mistake. It turns out that there are two versions of each Nexus phone. One sold in the US, the other sold in the rest of the world. The “ROW” phones are not supported and do not work with Project Fi. Oops. This is actually disclosed in a Project Fi FAQ, but it is buried several layers down and extremely easy to miss.


As a final nail in the coffin, even if you get a US-sourced phone, you can only activate the service if you are physically located in the US.


If you are based in the US, or visit there often, I think this is a very reasonable option for cell service. For those of us who are there only occasionally or not at all, it is really completely useless.

NEXUS6 too

data only card works in a NEXUS9

have them both
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Old 09-09-2016, 09:28   #7
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Re: Experiences with Google's Project Fi

Quote:
Originally Posted by DMCantor View Post
Be aware that the new EU rules only apply to 90 days per year outside one's home country. They don't want to allow a race to the bottom that let's people pick the cheapest provider in the EU and then use it all year in their home country.
Indeed, but if you have SIM cards from a couple of different countries this will be no problem.


Begs the question, however, about "races to the bottom"???? Normal people call that -- competition! Shows that for all the great things about the EU, there are a few deeply screwed up things about it, too. Claims to be a single, open market, but guess what . . .
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Old 09-09-2016, 13:26   #8
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Re: Experiences with Google's Project Fi

They have this on the signup help page:

https://support.google.com/fi/answer/6172582?hl=en

Here’s what you need to use Project Fi:

<snip>
2. Eligible Location.
<...>
Project Fi is available only to people who live in the U.S.

<snip>
4. Home address in the U.S.



I used Fi throughout my PNW (Washington + BC) cruising this summer. It worked great, but my bill was higher than normal because I consumed a lot more data while cruising (there was almost never working WiFi, so I used a hotspot to blog), compared to my cellular data use at home (where I'm almost always on WiFi).

I think the ideal use right now is the US smartphone user who sometimes travels internationally, wants the convenience of not having to buy new SIM cards, and is on WiFi a decent percentage of the month.
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Old 10-09-2016, 14:31   #9
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Re: Experiences with Google's Project Fi

We have been on Project FI for almost a year now, we are land based, and my largest bill has been $32. if you don't use all your data you get a refund for the unused, since we are mostliy using wi fi, it works out to be much less expensive, not so much if you're a data hog
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