My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Google's Project Fi Network – How @Google Fi's @Sprint and @TMobile MVNO will force @ATT and @Verizon to join their VoLTE Forces


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Google's Project Fi Network – How @Google Fi's @Sprint and @TMobile MVNO will force @ATT and @Verizon to join their VoLTE Forces

Google has announced what many have expected and have been hoping for but few realized they would do in this dramatic fashion.

I’m of course referring to Google Fi, Google’s own Wireless service based on a cross between an MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) and Wi-Fi Hotspots as reported in “Google's wireless service expected to launch soon, report says”, published April 21, 2015 by Richard Nieva, CNET News and “Google launches its own mobile Network for Nexus 6 owners”, published April 22, 2015 By Chris Welch, The Verge.

Their plans, announced in an official Google Blog post entitled “Say hi to Fi: A new way to say hello”, Wednesday, April 22, 2015, Google Official Blog will see Google launching their Network with the help of the two (2) lower tier Telecom Networks in the US of A, Sprint and T-Mobile.

Google Fi is only available on the Google Nexus 6 smartphone, as you need special hardware and software to switch between 3G and 4G LTE Telecoms Networks and Wi-Fi Networks. Google Fi takes advantage of free Wi-Fi Networks as well as Cellular Networks for Voice and Data Services depending on which one has the strongest signal at the time in your area. 

Then the service seamlessly switches between these services, keeping you connected via whichever Network is available for one low monthly fee. So how will this Google Fi work with only the Google Nexus 6 smartphone? Also, will AT&T and Verizon join with the Google Fi Network?

Google Fi Network Launched – How to join Sprint and Verizon MVNO

First, you'll have to have a Google Nexus 6 smartphone, which has the specially built in hardware and software that can seamlessly switch between using Wi-Fi Networks or T-Mobile or Sprint for Voice and Data Services in Google Fi’s MVNO Network as explained in the article “What the hell is an MVNO, and why is Google building one with Fi?”, published April 22, 2015 By Ben Popper, The Verge.

To get onto the Google Fi Network, you first have to live inside of the US of A or be an American or Jamaican with access to a femtocell or attocell for either T-Mobile or Sprint as noted in my blog article entitled “When in Roam (ing) carry a attocell - SnapDragon and The Tourist”.

You also need to have access to Wi-Fi Networks in the US of A, albeit technically you can also mimic than in Jamaica or elsewhere in the world using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) as explained in my blog article entitled “Surfing the Internet Anonymously using VPN - How to use Streaming Set Top Boxes over VPN”.

You then have to request an invite from your Google Nexus 6 smartphone via Google’s Project Fi Invite Page. Then the customer is assigned a Google Fi Number to make calls.

Project Google Fi  - Flat rate monthly Voice, SMS and Data Bundle that’ll shake up American Telecoms

This Google Fi number  is the same number that they’d use on the Hangouts App that already allows Americans and Internationals the ability to make free International calls as reported in my blog article entitled “How to make free Google International Calls with Google Hangouts – Free Calling for Laptop, Google Android and iOS”. 

The Google Fi Network is a monthly contract with no yearly contract option, making it very flexible option for Google Nexus 6 users to consider. The Monthly charges work out US$20 a month and you get the following:

1.      Voice Calling
2.      SMS
3.      Wi-Fi tethering from you smartphone
4.      International Calling coverage in 120+ countries

Additionally you pay a flat fee of US$10 per Gb of Cellular Data while in the US of A and travelling internationally. Since this is a monthly contract, you buy allotments of Data based on your predicted Monthly usage:

1.      US$10 per month for 1GB
2.      US$20 per month for 2GB
3.      US$30 per month for 3GB

3 Gb is a lot in any country and it definitely beats Data Plans in Jamaica like the recently launched Digicel Zero as detailed in my blog article entitled “Digicel launches Digicel Zero - How @Digicel_jamaica is testing VoLTE vs @WhatsApp's Free Voice Calling to boost smartphone sales”,  which means you'll natural have some leftovers each month. Google Fi doesn’t offer Data Rollover, but rather credits you the amount of Data that was unused from your plan to your Credit Card.

That’s going to be a huge draw initially, albeit I suspect that Google Fi might change that policy to a rollover soon enough as Americans start to max out their Data Plans.

Effectively, you only pay for what you use, albeit in practice, this may be unlikely, as you'll easily burn through that Data Allotments with downloading or using Video Calling Apps such as Twitter's Periscope, Meerkat or even Facebook Messenger Video Calling Feature as noted in my blog article entitled “@Facebook Messenger Free Video Calling - @Meerkat and @periscopeco's new competitor as @Digicel_Jamaica defends against @WhatsApp”.  

Google Fi vs other Network Carriers - Why AT&T and Verizon will soon join forces with Google Fi

Before you run out to buy a Google Nexus 6 smartphone in order to and jump onto this new Bandwagon, you have to get an idea of what the charges are on the other Networks (read AT&T and Verizon's Networks) for their Voice, Text, SMS and Data Bundles and how they compare to the Google Fi Networks   as noted in the article “Google Project Fi plan vs AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint”, published May 8th 2015 by  Mike Stenger, TechRadar.

Take a look at this handy comparative chart comparing Google Fi Voice and SMS Bundles to other US Networks and judge for yourself.

Then look at this comparative chart comparing Data Bundles to other US Networks and judge for yourself.

Hands down, Google Fi will be a winner. Too bad AT&T and Verizon's Networks are not on this winning team and the Google Fi Network is limited to only the Google Nexus 6, as you can't just get an App and use this service.

Interestingly too, once you accept a Google Fi Network Invite, you will have to kill your Google Voice Service as mentioned in the article “Uh oh! Project Fi guts many of Google Voice’s features during setup process”, published May 6, 2015 By Kyle Wiggers, DigitalTrends and “Signing up for Project Fi will destroy your Google Voice account”, published May 6, 2015 By Chris Welch, The Verge.

To me this comes as no surprise, as Google had begun the process of merging Google Voice with Hangouts since March 2014 as reported in my blog article entitled “Google merges Google Voice into Google+ Hangouts - How to make Free US and Canada Calls with Google Voice in Hangouts App”.

Google Voice, which was launched in 2010 as detailed in my blog article entitled “Google and Google Voice - The World is Not Enough”, is finally being killed off quietly. However, if is being given new life, rising like a phoenix in the form of a MVNO Network that is Google Fi.

Only time will tell if this idea of Wi-Fi Calling with an MVNO twist will catch on and whether or not AT&T and Verizon, who already have their own VoLTE Plans, will join in this US and International Flat Rate Calling MVNO Melee of Telecom Networks.

Most likely, fearing being swamped by competition from the two smaller carriers, I predict AT&T and Verizon will merge their VoLTE Networks and take advantage of their superior coverage to offer a competing service rivaling Google Fi.

Even more interesting, is whether or not our local Telecom Providers Digicel and Telecom Provider LIME will also join in to support Google Fi. Most likely they will have no choice but to accept Google Fi, as they’ve yet to take action against Google Hangouts, being as Google services, like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, create a reason for Jamaican to buy smartphones in the first place.

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