I am just about to embark on a global adventure kite surfing at some of the worlds most beautiful locations but like most, I like to stay in contact with friends, family and also have the web in my pocket. How do you do this without spending a fortune on multiple cellular providers, astronomical international roaming fees or even worse, using unsecured public WiFi access points.
I have used many cellular providers around the world over the years but I can’t speak more highly of Google’s Project Fi service. This service comes with a few constraints but the benefits certainly outweigh them.
How it works
Google’s Project Fi service works across multiple cellular networks and communication standards to provide you with the fastest speeds no matter where you are in the world. So this means it automatically connects and switches between multiple cellular providers (3 in the US — Sprint, T-Mobile, and U.S. Cellular) and millions of WiFi hotspots (uses secure encryption via VPN) to provide you with your coverage. It is by far the simplest multi-network global provider of cellular in world to my knowledge.
Now this service doesn’t work on every phone (currently only available on HTC Pixel, LG Nexus 5x and Huawei Nexus 6p) but it is by far the best frequent travel cellular provider there is on the market. It provides you with cellular service in 135+ countries and you pay the same price no matter which country.
The base price is $20/month and then $10/GB for data. You initially set an amount of data you might consume a month and if you’re under your monthly data allotment, they credit the money back to your account. And if you’re over, there are no penalties, you get charged at the same rate of $10 per GB. Also, if you don’t use a whole GB or for example, if your data budget is 2GB and you use 1.265GB, you’ll get a $7.35 credit.
One of the great things about this service is that it will always try and connect to the strongest and most reliable connection and that normally means WiFi hotspots. When connected to one of Project Fi’s millions of global WiFi hotspot the data you consume is not counted towards your data allowance. It’s free! The only time data is counted towards your allowance is when using cellular. The little icon on the top of your screen notifies you which network you are on.
You can also use the Project Fi service as a mobile WiFi hotspot or tether to it for all your other devices anywhere the service works in the world. So even if you are an iPhone user I would suggest you pick up a Nexus 5x for $249 and set it up with Project Fi as a wifi hotspot. That way you can use WhatsApp, Facebook, Messenger, Google etc… anywhere in the world.
Pros and Cons List
Below is a brief list of the pros and cons of using this service.
Works in 135+ countries
Data consumption is only counted on cellular networks not on WiFi hotspots
Secure connection when on public hotspots
Can pause the service at no cost for 90 days via the app
Can be used as a mobile hotspot for devices at no extra cost
One SIM card needed and only one monthly bill
Cheap if using small amounts of data
Get credited for the data you don’t use
No over charging for going over your data allocation ($10/GB)
Family/Group plan available for an additional $15/user/month
Free travel goodies at selected airports
Only available on 3 Android devices at this time (Pixel, Nexus 6p & 5x)
Can have reduced speeds in some countries
Data prices can be high if using a lot of data each month
You need a US based Google account/address to setup