Project Fi is a mobile virtual network operator owned by Google, providing wireless phone and data services using Wi-Fi and cellular networks belonging to Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Three.
At the highest level, Project Fi is a phone carrier offering from Google. It works by giving you mobile data service on three mobile networks, which your phone will intelligently switch between — it also uses Wi-Fi to make calls and send texts whenever available. Project Fi is a “prepaid” carrier, meaning you pay upfront for your service in the trailing month, which is the opposite of a traditional carrier (Verizon, AT&T, etc.) that bills you after you use the service.
Project Fi is focused on simplified billing. You pay $20 per month for unlimited talk and texting, and a flat rate of $10 per gigabyte of data used. At the start of each month you simply estimate how much data you’ll use and pay for that amount — at the end of the month you’ll receive either a refund for data you didn’t use, or pay a little extra on the next bill for data overages. You’ll always pay at the same $10 per gigabyte rate, though, no matter what.
You can also set up a “Group Plan” on Project Fi for up to six people to share a single account and billing source. With a Group Plan, all of the same features of an individual plan apply, but you save a bit of money per person. Billing is handled centrally by the account administrator, along with data limitations for each user (if needed). Individuals can come and go from a Group Plan as they wish, without any contract.
Project Fi is available for the Pixel XL, Pixel, Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X and Nexus 6. You can also use a data-only SIM card with any tablet that supports the T-Mobile network.
Project Fi works with a special SIM card — and a little software on your phone — that can authenticate you on T-Mobile, Sprint and U.S. Cellular, and switch between them on the fly based on a variety of factors. Because it can also use Wi-Fi for calls and texts, you can keep using your phone in places where mobile data isn’t that great. Extra software called a “Wi-Fi Assistant” will automatically connect your phone to open Wi-Fi access points when you’re out of the house, reducing your data usage without any intervention on your part.
To see if you’re covered by Google’s Project Fi, just visit fi.google.com/coverage and enter your location (state, city, ZIP) on the map — and no matter where you search, you can always zoom and scroll around to see what the surrounding area is like as well.