Google Fi: The complete FAQ

Google Fi: The complete FAQ

Google Fi may sound like some weird sort of initiation ritual (“Whoa, what happened to Rick? I heard he got Googlefied!”) — but if you can get past its silly-sounding name, the Google-owned wireless service can both save you money and step up your smartphone security situation.

Make no mistake about it: Google Fi — known as Project Fi up until 2018 — is a pretty unusual proposition. And it absolutely won’t make sense for everyone. If you fall into a certain style of smartphone usage, though, it can eliminate a lot of the downsides that typically come with a traditional wireless plan.

So how does Fi actually work, and could it be right for you? Let’s tackle it question by burning question and figure that out together.

What exactly is Google Fi — or Project Fi, or whatever you want to call it?

Google Fi is technically what’s known as an MVNO, or mobile virtual network operator. That’s a fancy name for an entity that provides wireless service — y’know, the thing that allows you to make and receive calls and use mobile data from that shiny rectangle in your pocket — without actually owning the network infrastructure behind it.

In other words, it’s kinda like a high-tech landlord. It doesn’t have its own network like AT&T or Verizon; instead, it has an arrangement with those same sorts of carriers that allows it to tap into their networks and repackage access to those pipes under its own brand and arrangement.

What networks does Google Fi actually use, then?

In the U.S., Fi uses a combination of T-Mobile, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular. That’s one of its distinguishing features, in fact: When you use Google Fi with a phone that’s designed for the service, it’s able to seamlessly switch you between those networks based on which one has the strongest service at any given moment.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.


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