My mobile hosting experience with Project Fi so far

I left Verizon Wireless in a huff this spring. I’d been on the service since 2011 or so on one of their plans for the deaf which knocked down the standard monthly price to just under $60 but charges for any and all calls that your phone makes. Add to it the number of voice mails that I received and what it would cost for a person to review them… It was an annoyance, as was forced-on-me apps by the service. I won’t list a data-cap complaint because I did not tend to use my Samsung Galaxy S III for web browsing or social media / data heavy apps; TXT/SMS, photography and offline apps were more useful for me and using Wi-Fi was a work-around with data anyway.

It was because my Galaxy was aging that I wanted to get out and move forward. I was reminded by my older brother that Google has a mobile entity of its own called Project Fi. I had two friends tell me they used Project Fi and it worked for them – utilizing Wi-Fi for data knocked down prices. The prices were there already seemed low enough: $20 base rate (phone + TXT/SMS) and data at $10 a gigabyte… And money saved from unused data each month. It sounded like a good chance to take…

And it’s proved to be just that for me in the six months of use.

I bought at Nexus 6P through the company – big damn phone, but it was the cheaper of the options – and got things up and running. My very first month bill was at max price which came out to $55 ($20 base rate, $30 paid for 3 gigs of data and then taxes/fees to top it off). That’s four bucks less than what I routinely paid for VZW service. It’s also the most I’ve ever paid for service in a month with Project Fi.

I’m not out and about that much and I don’t use heavy data when I am. I’m at home and utilize the Wi-Fi service around the house and that knocks data use to next-to-nothing over the Project Fi network. We’re talking hundredths of a gig (megabytes of data). Those small amounts of network-data do end up on bills, but they’re pennies, nickels and dimes on top of the $20 base rate (and $4-and-change in taxes and fees). It’s a great feature, saving cash on data you’re not using.

Let me warn those who consume data heavily on mobile network hosts: If you go over the limit you choose to have on your Project Fi account (and yes, you can choose how many gigs and it will be part of your projected monthly fee) you will be charge $10 for each gig over the limit. I haven’t come close so I can’t tell you if you just have to go a single byte of data over your limit… It’s there, though, as well as the ability to get data warnings from Project Fi when you get close to your limit.

Here’s the thing that led to me posting about my time with Project Fi – I only paid just under $7 in the month of September 2017. The charge reflects the taxes/fees as well as data use (and I had to use the Project Fi 3G network for about 3 days with thanks to Hurricane Irma and the loss of cable telecommunication services by way of it. The bill should have been nearly $27 (minimum data use even though I was on their network with apps and on the web) but the base cost was wiped out. Why? It turns out that other spending on Google can factor in; I made a donation late in September to Google Philanthropy as it was being promoted to coincide Hurricane Maria coverage on the web site. A $20 dollar donation to something they presented as linked to Maria and… Well, an already cheap bill for a smartphone was reduced to nothing.

I still get random voicemail calls but with thanks to where the Android OS is now, I can see when the calls are nothing but garbage (3 second voicemails tend to be that) and those of substance? There is a setting to have those calls transcribed, so a person in my situation (stone deaf at current, hard-of-hearing most of the rest of the time) is able to get an idea who called over what. Mind you, dictation isn’t perfectly done by Android but it’s worthwhile in its accuracy.

Project Fi isn’t beloved by everyone and neither is the Nexus 6P, but from what I’m experiencing in my daily use I’m fine with it, happy with it and encourage others to at least look into it for yourself. It’s not going to beat those who are content with unlimited data plans or those who trust the long-running, mighty mobile communication companies. It does serve its purpose, though and does it well in my experience with it.