Google Launches Network-Neutral Project Fi MVNO

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Project Fi will switch between Wi-Fi and partner operators’ 4G networks to deliver best connection

Google says its Project Fi Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) will ensure customers are constantly connected to the best available network, whether it is Wi-Fi or cellular, and on any device they choose.

The company has released details about its long awaited MVNO and its so-called ‘network of networks’, which automatically connects users to a Wi-Fi hotspot or the 4G or 3G network of its operator partners depending on which offers the strongest signal.

The service will launch in the US this autumn, with Verizon and Sprint serving as network partners, as well as a catalogue of free open hotspots. Google promises all data will be encrypted and that users will only be switched between networks when “absolutely necessary” to preserve battery life.

Google Project Fi

Google Project FiProject Fi will only work with the Motorola-manufactured Nexus 6 at launch as it is currently the only handset with the hardware and software capable of supporting the service. Calls and texts can be made on both Wi-Fi and cellular networks, with a user’s phone number stored in the cloud to allow communications on a laptop or tablet.

“In today’s mobile world, fast and reliable connectivity is almost second nature. But even in places like the US, where mobile connections are nearly ubiquitous, there are still times when you turn to your phone for that split-second answer and don’t have fast enough speed,” said Nick Fox, vice president of communications products at Google.

“Or you can’t get calls and texts because you left your phone in a taxi (or it got lost in a couch cushion for the day). As mobile devices continually improve how you connect to people and information, it’s important that wireless connectivity and communication keep pace and be fast everywhere, easy to use, and accessible to everyone.”

The cost of Project Fi is $20 a month (£13.34) for calls, texts and Wi-Fi tethering, with each gigabyte of data costing an additional $10 a month (£6.67). However any unused portion of the data allowance will be refunded. 3G data roaming is inclusive in 120 countries, as are texts, with calls costing 20 cents per minute. Roaming outside of these countries is prohibited to “protect” users from bill shock.

Project Fi is one of a number of network initiatives at Google, including Google Fiber and Project Loon, the latter of which aims to provide affordable Internet access through high altitude balloons.

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