Google today announced improvements to Project Fi for those who travel internationally. According to the company’s estimate, Fi customers now have access to high-speed data in over 97 percent of the places Americans travel internationally. Fi may still only be available in the U.S., but its benefits continue to expand beyond the country’s borders.
Project Fi is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) launched by Google over a year ago with plans starting at $20 per month (data costs an additional $10 per GB per month). This means the service relies not on Google’s own mobile network, but on existing networks provided by carriers, as well as Wi-Fi connections when they’re available. The catch is that Fi requires using a Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, or Nexus 6, as these are the only phones the service supports for performing the handoffs between connections.
Google believes that because of issues of speed, only 20 percent of Americans choose to use cellular data when traveling internationally, opting to rely on a local SIM card and/or Wi-Fi hotspots. But despite what the company implies, of course speed is not the only thing that deters users — cost is also a factor.
Google is addressing both concerns by letting all Project Fi subscribers access high speed data in over 135 countries (up from 120 countries previously) at the same $10/GB that Google charges in the U.S. Furthermore, Google has added international carrier Three to the Project Fi network so it can offer speeds “at least 10-20X faster than before.”
Once again, Google is showing U.S. carriers the direction they need to take in order to offer better service in a competitive way. The pricing is easy to understand, and the features perform exactly as you’d expect.
Last, but not least, for the next week Google is also offering $150 off the Nexus 6P when you buy and activate the phone with Project Fi. The timing of this deal is not coincidental; rumors of the upcoming Nexus devices have been raging for months, so you can expect more Nexus discounts for the rest of the year.