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Old 29-06-2019, 06:52   #1
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t-Mobile v. Google Project Fi-- which one works best

Ocean Jedi uses the t-mobile data sim in a wirie antenna to get 2G connections. i read that its about 126 kps, but one article says you can upgrade to 256 kps without much more cost. I really don't want to pay per gig because i use Microsoft office 360 with is a real data hog when it come to email.

My question is as follows: would i be better off with a Google Project Fi data sim. I usually sail the Caribbean, but we are going to the Mediterranean for a few years, so which gives me the fastest speed data, at the normal subscription rate. assume i use a ton of data per month. Also, can i buy the google sim in Europe or do i have to wait until i return to the states.

thanks.
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Old 29-06-2019, 07:15   #2
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Re: t-Mobile v. Google Project Fi-- which one works best

Hi there,

To start off, I have no connection to either company - just a lowly user.

Google Fi will not send you a sim card overseas. If you have a mail forwarding service, that might work, but it could be a pain waiting for the sim to bounce addresses. Speedwise, I've gotten full 4G everywhere.

But for me, Google Fi is a backup. It can cost up to $80/mo for the full speed 15GB, and then it slows considerably. It's generally cheaper in the med to go with european mobile carriers if you're using tons of data. Vodafone is 15EUR for 7GB and phone. I think it's around 8EUR for an additional 7GB, but then they have daily data caps of 3GB of use per day. Basically, read the fine print and see what works for you.

Good luck, but as with most things boat, you'll need to fine tune your decision based on your specific needs. I hope that helps.
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Old 29-06-2019, 07:29   #3
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Re: t-Mobile v. Google Project Fi-- which one works best

Thank you. i still live in the US. I expect to fly home to visit family and friends every few months. travelling the world is only a part time job for me. lol.
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Old 29-06-2019, 10:41   #4
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Re: t-Mobile v. Google Project Fi-- which one works best

We recently purchased 2 google fi phones and the boat is in French polynesia. We always had the problem over the last 15 years of cruising is having to get a new sim card when we return to the US for a visit. Now having a US number and being able to move country to country and having the same number for family or kids to contact us is high on our list. Plus immediately having internet via the google fi phone when we enter a new country is a plus. We also have a local phone / sim card so locals can call us but its pay as you go and not very expensive.

Something to think about

Good luck with your choice
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Old 30-06-2019, 09:17   #5
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Re: t-Mobile v. Google Project Fi-- which one works best

When we cruised the Medd, we bought a local MiFi and local sim card. It worked very well, and we had as much WiFi data as we needed....and we could renew/add to it as needed. Because all of the Medd is on the same freq band (diff from the US), all we had to do when we moved to a new country was to buy a local system data SIM, put it into the MiFi, and we were good to go. Another solution, that works good in most all countries and worked very well for us in the Caribb-now), is the SkyRoam system. Buy the disc (approx $120), then we bought the unlimited plan (by the month)....it, too, worked very well for us. But I have never used it in the Medd. FWIW
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Old 01-07-2019, 13:37   #6
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Re: t-Mobile v. Google Project Fi-- which one works best

I had a very bad experience with Google Fi. Around Christmas 2018 Google was running promotions on their Fi service, so after checking whether my phone (Samsung Galaxy 7) was compatible with Google Fi (it was) I decided to switch.

Unless you have a late-model Google phone (Pixel), Google's claim that the phone switches carriers in the US depending on your location is completely false. With a Samsung Galaxy 7 phone, Fi only connects to T-Mobile's towers (I installed an app that tells me what tower the phone is connecting to and whose service it is, so I know this for a fact). Anyway, if you are satisfied with T-Mobile's coverage in the US, you should be ok with this aspect.

However, I was traveling abroad and I actually got Fi because I wanted to connect to what Google claims are their local partners. I was never able to connect to the cellular services abroad. To let Google know of my issues, I contacted their support when I could connect to hotel/coffee shop wi-fi. Google's support really sucks! Their support centers are in India. I'm from India and proud of my Indian heritage, but if I were to meet some of these support personnel face-to-face, I would probably strangle them. Google has no physical help centers where you could make your way and have them troubleshoot whatever it is that's wrong. Online support can only go so far. A few times I received instructions on what I had to do to troubleshoot the issues -- I followed the directions carefully -- multiple steps that took long -- but still I did it all. No luck.

After returning to the US, I contacted my previous cell carrier -- they were able to get my old service back in all of 5 minutes and everything worked just fine.

To summarize: if you want Google Fi to really do its job, get one of Google's Pixel phones (but don't be using the camera on that phone -- the internet is replete with stories of camera issues on the Pixels) and you should be ok.
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Old 01-07-2019, 14:04   #7
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Re: t-Mobile v. Google Project Fi-- which one works best

We have used both in the Eastern Caribbean. T-Mobile usually works, at a relatively slow data speed, and has the advantage of no extra cost for data, no limit on the amount of data. The speed is barely tolerable. It is supposed to work everywhere, but we have had periods of zero connectivity in the French-speaking islands. Google Fi works everywhere and is relatively speedy, but it is always $10/gigabyte. Google Fi is certainly much cheaper than Orange on Guadeloupe or Martinique.
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Old 01-07-2019, 14:08   #8
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Re: t-Mobile v. Google Project Fi-- which one works best

Quote:
Originally Posted by ppvora View Post
I had a very bad experience with Google Fi. Around Christmas 2018 Google was running promotions on their Fi service, so after checking whether my phone (Samsung Galaxy 7) was compatible with Google Fi (it was) I decided to switch.

Unless you have a late-model Google phone (Pixel), Google's claim that the phone switches carriers in the US depending on your location is completely false. With a Samsung Galaxy 7 phone, Fi only connects to T-Mobile's towers (I installed an app that tells me what tower the phone is connecting to and whose service it is, so I know this for a fact). Anyway, if you are satisfied with T-Mobile's coverage in the US, you should be ok with this aspect.

However, I was traveling abroad and I actually got Fi because I wanted to connect to what Google claims are their local partners. I was never able to connect to the cellular services abroad. To let Google know of my issues, I contacted their support when I could connect to hotel/coffee shop wi-fi. Google's support really sucks! Their support centers are in India. I'm from India and proud of my Indian heritage, but if I were to meet some of these support personnel face-to-face, I would probably strangle them. Google has no physical help centers where you could make your way and have them troubleshoot whatever it is that's wrong. Online support can only go so far. A few times I received instructions on what I had to do to troubleshoot the issues -- I followed the directions carefully -- multiple steps that took long -- but still I did it all. No luck.

After returning to the US, I contacted my previous cell carrier -- they were able to get my old service back in all of 5 minutes and everything worked just fine.

To summarize: if you want Google Fi to really do its job, get one of Google's Pixel phones (but don't be using the camera on that phone -- the internet is replete with stories of camera issues on the Pixels) and you should be ok.
To be fair Google is quite clear that the service switching feature works only on specified phones and spending even 5 minutes researching that on the internet would only confirm it. If you're using the service "off label" in a configuration Google hasn't tested, which you appear to have done, it's not reasonable to expect it's both going to work everywhere and you'll get full support. If you use it as intended it works great. If you use any service from any provider on an unsupported phone you have to expect your results may vary and support will as well. Can you imagine the kind of training I'd have to provide you, heritage irrelevant, to be able to answer any question a customer might have about a universe of literally thousands of possible phones? We're not paying Google enough to hire the kind of people who can do that!
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Old 01-07-2019, 15:28   #9
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Re: t-Mobile v. Google Project Fi-- which one works best

I've had Google Fi since 2016 and have had no problems, great connectivity and great customer service. Granted, I have a Pixel phone so I cannot comment on how well it works with other phones. I also have not taken it out of the country yet, but the published countries in which the Google sim card works for the same basic rate is extensive, including all of the Caribbean. You also only pay for the data you use in a given month, $10.00 a GB. If you use less than 1 GB of data in a given month, your base price is $20.00 + 1GB = $30.00. After 6 GB, data are essentially free up to 15GB, then it slows down. But even then, you can speed it back up if you agree to start paying $10.00 a GB again. By the way, the Pixel cameras are regarded as some of the best, and that has been my experience. The other nice thing about Google Fi is that they will give you a duplicate sim card for free that you can put in a hotspot or cellular modem.
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Old 01-07-2019, 17:32   #10
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Re: t-Mobile v. Google Project Fi-- which one works best

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Originally Posted by Jerry Woodward View Post
I've had Google Fi since 2016 and have had no problems, great connectivity and great customer service. Granted, I have a Pixel phone so I cannot comment on how well it works with other phones. I also have not taken it out of the country yet, but the published countries in which the Google sim card works for the same basic rate is extensive, including all of the Caribbean. You also only pay for the data you use in a given month, $10.00 a GB. If you use less than 1 GB of data in a given month, your base price is $20.00 + 1GB = $30.00. After 6 GB, data are essentially free up to 15GB, then it slows down. But even then, you can speed it back up if you agree to start paying $10.00 a GB again. By the way, the Pixel cameras are regarded as some of the best, and that has been my experience. The other nice thing about Google Fi is that they will give you a duplicate sim card for free that you can put in a hotspot or cellular modem.
I'll add that I just discovered I could pull the SIM out of my cheap Verizon prepaid jetpack and throw the GoogleFi data SIM in and it worked immediately, didn't even need to reset the APN! Keep in mind you do need a Fi native phone to initialize the free data SIMs once before you can use them.
As a further user report I've used the GoogleFi since it launched and been all over Europe, South America, and the Caribbean and had pretty much flawless voice and data. The only exception was Belize, they've got some kind of govt phone monopoly there that puts an otherwise emerging country into the technological dark ages.
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Old 02-07-2019, 08:30   #11
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Re: t-Mobile v. Google Project Fi-- which one works best

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Originally Posted by redneckrob View Post
To be fair Google is quite clear that the service switching feature works only on specified phones and spending even 5 minutes researching that on the internet would only confirm it. If you're using the service "off label" in a configuration Google hasn't tested, which you appear to have done, it's not reasonable to expect it's both going to work everywhere and you'll get full support. If you use it as intended it works great. If you use any service from any provider on an unsupported phone you have to expect your results may vary and support will as well. Can you imagine the kind of training I'd have to provide you, heritage irrelevant, to be able to answer any question a customer might have about a universe of literally thousands of possible phones? We're not paying Google enough to hire the kind of people who can do that!
When I signed up for Google Fi, I went through all the steps on their sign-up website to make sure that my phone passed their hurdles to be compatible with their Fi service. Once I've been through those steps, it's not clear to me what you mean by using the service "off label". I'd really like to understand that as I may try this again in the future.

I'm not a Google hater -- in fact I have a substantial amount of Google stock that has rewarded me amply -- I just simply stated facts. It's no fun to land in a foreign country with the expectation that you will connect to the local cellular services to find out that that's not true.
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Old 02-07-2019, 08:43   #12
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Re: t-Mobile v. Google Project Fi-- which one works best

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Originally Posted by redneckrob View Post
I'll add that I just discovered I could pull the SIM out of my cheap Verizon prepaid jetpack and throw the GoogleFi data SIM in and it worked immediately, didn't even need to reset the APN! Keep in mind you do need a Fi native phone to initialize the free data SIMs once before you can use them.
As a further user report I've used the GoogleFi since it launched and been all over Europe, South America, and the Caribbean and had pretty much flawless voice and data. The only exception was Belize, they've got some kind of govt phone monopoly there that puts an otherwise emerging country into the technological dark ages.
If you visit this page: https://fi.google.com/about/international-rates/ Google clearly states that Belize is covered under their international plan. So...one would think that Google is well aware of the fact that Google Fi doesn't work in Belize. What if you signed on to Google Fi just because you were visiting Belize?
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Old 02-07-2019, 12:15   #13
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Re: t-Mobile v. Google Project Fi-- which one works best

We have had both T-Mobile and Google Fi phones in the western US and all over the south Pacific. In both cases using phones purchased from the carrier. Google Fi was the clear winner in all locations, better data speeds, better coverage, especially in rural areas. (Google Fi does use multiple carriers on the west coast, that may be different than PA as in post 6) It is very nice to keep a US number for some things.

Having said that, it is also good to have a local number in the country you are in, so we always get a local SIM in a different (older) phone. Locals can then call you back without long distance charges . The data rates are usually lower as well once you get a handle on the local data plan idiosyncracies.

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Old 02-07-2019, 17:29   #14
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Re: t-Mobile v. Google Project Fi-- which one works best

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Originally Posted by ppvora View Post
If you visit this page: https://fi.google.com/about/international-rates/ Google clearly states that Belize is covered under their international plan. So...one would think that Google is well aware of the fact that Google Fi doesn't work in Belize. What if you signed on to Google Fi just because you were visiting Belize?
Actually that's a recent and positive change, before it said it didn't work and indeed it didn't!
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Old 02-07-2019, 17:41   #15
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Re: t-Mobile v. Google Project Fi-- which one works best

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Originally Posted by ppvora View Post
When I signed up for Google Fi, I went through all the steps on their sign-up website to make sure that my phone passed their hurdles to be compatible with their Fi service. Once I've been through those steps, it's not clear to me what you mean by using the service "off label". I'd really like to understand that as I may try this again in the future.

I'm not a Google hater -- in fact I have a substantial amount of Google stock that has rewarded me amply -- I just simply stated facts. It's no fun to land in a foreign country with the expectation that you will connect to the local cellular services to find out that that's not true.
They have a comparability checker prominently featured on their site ( https://fi.google.com/compatibility) and for your phone it clearly has a big X vice the green check mark next to the feature "Even more security and network reliability
Switch among networks for an even more reliable connection, secure your data with a Fi VPN, and more"
It's been prominent since day 1 with them that you need their phones to get the network switching feature, it's part of their marketing strategy so they have no incentive to do otherwise. They're just using the service to establish their hardware and OS business, not make money reselling cell service!
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