Mobile Networks. As an industry, it’s getting a little crowded. By launching their own mobile network however, Google think there’s room for one more. Available as of this week in the US, Project Fi is adding another branch onto Google’s ever increasing technology conglomerate.
Rather than start from scratch and build its own infrastructure, Project Fi will harness the existing power of two 4G networks, namely T-Mobile and Sprint, to bring mobile data to Project Fi’s customers. A number of already functioning wireless hotspots will also be used to get customers online. Currently only available to Nexus 6 owners, early adopters in the US can sign up to an Early Access Programme online today.
So, in a market awash with competition, how might Google’s offering stand out from the crowd? Project Fi is taking an alternative look on the way customers pay for their data. Project Fi will, at launch at least, only have one flat data plan. You pay $20 (£13.30) for unlimited calls and texts, and a further $10 for every gigabyte of data you use. Nothing ground-breaking so far. However, at the beginning of each month, you choose the amount of data you wish to have in that month (to the nearest gigabyte). At the end of that month, you’ll be compensated for any of that data you didn’t consume.
Project Fi example:
$20- Unlimited Texts and Calls
$10- 1GB of data
500MB of unused data at the end of the month= a $5 reimbursement.
The good news doesn’t stop there. Project Fi will not include any annual contracts, and also includes unlimited international texts. Your allocated data will even work abroad (in 120 countries, including the UK) at exactly the same rate.
It seems Google have got the right idea as they look to enter yet another new market. Their plan is simple and, certainly on the face of it, looks like it could save a lot of consumers some significant cash. Initially rolled out to a selected few, Google are taking a cautious approach to a feisty market. The renting of competitors mobile infrastructure is further evidence for their reigns in approach. Limiting Project Fi to a mobile virtual network (MVNO) will restrict Google’s scope for mobile growth. Depending on the capabilities of rivals’ equipment leaves them hampered in any genuine attempt to influence the market.
Google are also wise to ring-fence their mobile network to the US before heading overseas. A certain continent-wide union has been sniffing around Google’s business for some time now. The EU recently filed an anti-competitive complaint against Google’s search engine practices, as well as opening a similar investigation into their mobile platform, Android. US laws on private monopolisation of markets are a little more lax than that of the EU. Launching Project Fi in Europe may have rocked an already unsteady boat. Their experimentation is best served exclusively in the US.
That’s not to say we won’t be seeing Google mobile over here at some stage. Along with their expanding US fibre broadband service, Google Fiber, Google will no doubt house ambitious plans to see the world connected to their online networks both at home and on mobile sometime in the future.
Retailer to Networker
For now though, the UK will have to be content with (yet another) new entrant into the mobile network market. Best known as the number one mobile phone retailer in Britain, Carphone Warehouse are now looking to provide you with a network to go with your smartphone. Named iD, the new network will launch in May intent on offering customers the features that they want. A certain number of similarities exist between iD and Project Fi. For one, iD will be a MVNO, harnessing the capabilities of the Three network to serve its customers. iD will also offer the most comprehensive range of countries (22) with free-roaming capabilities, exceeding the 18 that Three currently offer.
Also likely to draw in punters is the promise of 12 month contracts. A number of consumers are turned off at level of commitment required in a fixed 24-month contract. For those of us who want a little more flexibility, iD could become their network of choice.
Things are hotting up in the mobile market. With telecommunications giants Sky and BT set to take their battleground onto mobile in the coming months, the industry is getting increasingly hectic. Not to be down heartened, Carphone Warehouse, and further down the line Google, are after their slice of the mobile pie.