It's official. Google is now a mobile carrier.
On Wednesday, the company announced Project Fi, a new wireless service intended to shake up the telecom market. Developed in partnership with T-Mobile and Sprint, Project Fi promises to put consumers on the network that's best for them at any given time. Google claims it switches seamlessly and securely between Wi-Fi and LTE to ensure fast, consistent speeds — even during calls.
Google is offering Project Fi with a unique pricing system that covers the basics — talk, text, Wi-Fi tethering, and international coverage — for a flat fee of $20 per month. And it's charging $10 per GB of cellular data while in the U.S. and abroad. Subscribers can purchase as much or as little data as they choose, with Google crediting unused data back to their accounts. It's an adaptable approach unique among wireless carriers and one that may well encourage consumers to purchase additional data up front. Which serves Google's real goal: to get consumers spending more time online and more time using its services.
Currently available by invitation only, Project Fi initially will work only on Google's latest Nexus 6 phones and, because the Fi phone number will live on the cloud, will be accessible on tablets and laptops as well.
Brendan Klinkenberg is a tech reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco.
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