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Think twice before you doubt Project Fi now

by Justin Herrick | February 4, 2018February 4, 2018 10:00 am PST

The existence of Google’s wireless service has always been an interesting topic in the wireless industry. Project Fi doesn’t force you to pay for anything you don’t need, but that also means anyone who uses a lot of data in a single month ends up with an expensive bill. Well, that was actually true until 2018. Now there’s Bill Protection.

Its name tells you everything. Bill Protection keeps all of the great qualities that have long come from Project Fi while preventing your bill from running high. Google says it combines simple pricing with an unlimited plan’s flexibility.

Let’s say you use 8GB of data this month. Normally that’d set you back north of $100. For years, Project Fi’s premise has been that you’re paying $20 per month for unlimited calls/texts and $10 per gigabyte. It’s not so great considering a carrier like T-Mobile will give you an unlimited plan for $70 per month with taxes and fees included. Customers on the magenta-colored network don’t see their data speeds reduced unless they hit 50GB, which is highly unlikely for the vast majority of us.

The new approach taken by Project Fi is similar. That same 8GB from our example will cost just $80 thanks to Bill Protection. Google caps your charges at $80 once more than 6GB of data has been used.

Deprioritization, the proper name for a threshold inducing throttling, does indeed exist. No carrier in the U.S. feels any customer should freely use as much data as they please. But Project Fi’s threshold isn’t so bad. Once you hit 15GB of data in a month, then your speeds drop to 256Kbps until the next billing cycle arrives.

The threshold isn’t set in stone, either. Project Fi will gladly restore your data speeds to full capacity if you wish to return to the $10 per gigabyte structure beyond 15GB.

Something holding back people like myself has been value. Before Bill Protection came around, there was no way I could justify paying for Project Fi when T-Mobile’s unlimited plan was one price with few limitations. Although I don’t use much data away from a Wi-Fi connection, it still felt like I was paranoid about my usage. Bill Protection rids me of that concern.

Of course, Project Fi isn’t for data hogs. Never was, probably never will be. Google’s focus is on the consumers who want access to a high-speed network (or three, in this case) without spending a lot of money if they don’t have to.

Merely by allowing Bill Protection to do its job, Google successfully widened the service’s appeal. Penny-pinching consumers can save money but have wiggle room, and erratic consumers have a safety net available. Families, too, benefit from a big pool of data to split sans the bill getting outrageous.

Project Fi might just be perfect for you with these latest changes in place. It’s not the best plan around for everyone, but at least Bill Protection makes it attractive for more people. As long as you don’t use a ton of data every single month, you should set. Google’s wireless service will give you access to three nationwide 4G LTE networks, let you roam country-to-country without extra fees, charge you only for what data you use, and protect you from facing an absurd bill if you happen to need a little more data than usual.

Google could be on to something here. Assuming these value-driving improvements show up consistently over time, Project Fi might find itself growing faster than ever before.


Justin Herrick

Justin is easily attracted to power buttons. His interest in technology started as a child in the 1990s with the original PlayStation, and two...

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