March 13, 2016

Project Fi, Here I come.

"Wow, you've been with AT&T since atleast 2006, possibly longer since my system only goes back that far..." said an AT&T Contract Specialist during an intro conversation when I told them I am going to cancel my plan with them.

I've been with AT&T for a long time, since the Cingular/BlackBerry 8500 series days... by my estimation, I've been with them for approx. 12-14 years.  Since the iPhone 3G era, I've primarily kept an unlimited data plan of $25 + $5 SMS plan for as long as I can remember.  AT&T grandfathered me in the unlimited data through its EDGE, 3G, UMTS, 4G, HSPA, HSDPA and the eventual LTE bandwidth evolution.  I managed to leverage free tethering via Google Nexus Devices and was okay paying approx. $75/month after all the bullshit fees and taxes thrown at us consumers.  All was "well" until my Nexus 6 arrived and suddenly AT&T's provisioning for tethering kicked in; I had to let go of my unlimited data plan for "choose your data" plan.  In the interest of saving some money, I opted for a 2GB plan w/ rollover and was paying about $65/mo. after fees.

I had heard about Google's Project Fi from my company's ex-CTO when he was invited to join early on.  I received an invite shortly after but sat on my ass because I was too lazy to be bothered with.  Recently, I have been thinking a lot of all of the recurring monthly expenses (cable, cell phone, parking, etc. etc.) and when I read about Project Fi is now open to public, I started to look into the benfits and decided that I'd give it shot.

By now there are tons and tons of reviews on Project Fi, so this post is not intended as a review for Project Fi, I will only go over the rational that I went through which help me decide it could work for me:

  • In the past, I preferred AT&T being that it is the best GSM network within the US, and works aboard; Google knowing T-Mobile or Sprint's network along cannot compete in terms of coverage so they combined the ability to switch between the two... I figured it's worth a shot in terms of coverage... we'll see.
  • I travel abroad once a year and have lots of friends and family aboard; Project Fi works well with 120 countries.  From the US, you can text internationally for free.  While abroad, data is charged the same as domestic at $10/GB and calls are around $0.20 per minute.  Compared to the AT&T international Data plan  of 200MB at $30 and the 50 SMS for $10 I was paying, this is a huge benefit.  I like knowing that I have this flexibility.
  • Monthly fee is determined by me; and I aim to do so at $30 ($20 basic + $10 @1GB Data); I have Wifi at my residence and work; and I live in one of the most WiFi abundance city in the world.

Now I know going with Project Fi changes the way I fundamentally operate, I no longer have the bragging rights of "unlimited data" to stream and do crazy mobile things independently.  I also happened to be paying for a couple of ISP plans on my own dime plus where I work, I have access to WiFi.  As a consumer, I have to wise up or pay the ultimate price since every company out there seems to think its okay for a consumer to repeatedly paying for ISP services (ie. don't get me started on car commercials that boast about cars have 4G LTE wireless network built me).

Its worth while noting that this is one of Google's recent (and noble) attempt at disrupting the telecom ecosystem; this reminds me of the early 2000's Google where they just come in and say lets reinvent the way we do things (ie. Google Maps, Google Talk, Google Reader, Google Voice, NEXUS phones for $300, etc, etc.).  I miss this Google, please give me more of this Google.

Before I go, I want to mention a couple of things worth noting; Project Fi seems to be an evolution to the Google Voice system; if you decide to sign up, you can choose to use your existing Google Voice number (if you have one) or you can port in your own phone number.  If you choose the latter, Project Fi will tell you that you will forfeit your existing Google Voice number.  Have no fear, because the wisdom of Internet told me that you can forward that number to a different Google Account (which I did).  That said the porting process was pretty easy as well.  1. You enter all of your existing telecom information on Project Fi while you wait for your Project Fi SIM card to arrive, 2. Call your telecom to tell them you want cancel your plan, plan to spend some time here as they will try to plead with you by offering $5 offer or some other insulting amount, 3. Once your SIM card arrives, plug it into your NEXUS device (oh, by the way, it only works with Nexus devices for now) and for me, within 1 hour, the number was ported and I was ready to rock!

Last tip!  One of the best reviews I came across thus far was from Venture Beat.  They tipped their readers off on some poor indoor call quality as it relates to the default Wifi-Calling feature which can be turned off.  So please do that and enjoy the calls!

So far, everything is going to plan.  I will report back if I have more things to say (or to gripe).

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