Western Courier

Google’s Fi: The next big thing

Jacob Tomlinson

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If you pay for your own phone service, pay attention. If you don’t, pay attention anyway because you will, more likely than not, eventually pay for your own phone service. To give you a sentence worth of background for this article, my contract with Sprint is up this month, so I decided to search around for other phone plans just to see what was out there. The following is my experience.

Major phone companies, like Sprint and Verizon, for example, offer a few different options for purchasing a phone and obtaining the level of phone service that you would like. In my experience, I wanted to get the “small” data package from Sprint, which is unlimited talk and text, and 3GB of data per month at a rate of $30 per month. After figuring out that this data plan would work for me, I decided to go with the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge smartphone.

Now, at this point, if you are making all of these decisions online like I was, Sprint gives you three purchase options on the phone. You can (1) purchase the phone at full price, (2) purchase the phone at a discounted rate (about half-off) with a 24-month contract, or (3) purchase the phone over the course of a 24-month period through monthly installments — every month your bill will be a bit higher because you are making payments on your phone.

Given these options, I thought purchasing the phone at a discounted rate would make the most sense. I didn’t mind being in a 24-month contract, I didn’t want to add to my monthly bill and, on its face, it seemed like I would be getting a great deal.
I was wrong.

After deciding on how I would pay for the phone (at a discounted rate with a 24-month contract), I arrived at the checkout screen where I could add things like a screen protector, phone case, insurance options and the like. After only choosing an insurance plan (which was $11 per month) I scrolled down and, to my absolute disbelief, found my monthly
payment to be $86 per month before taxes.

How in the world could my monthly bill be $86 per month if all I wanted was the $30 data package and insurance plan that was $11? Sprint (and other major phone companies alike) charge a monthly access charge. For me, it was $45 per month. Why? Because I had opted to pay for my phone at a discounted rate. After talking with customer service for a half an hour trying to figure out what a monthly access charge was and why it was $45 per month, I was left without a definite answer. I was told, however, that if I switched how I would pay for the phone (either monthly installments or purchasing the phone at full price), my monthly access charge would be reduced to $20 per month. Regardless of this, over the course of 24 months I would pay roughly between $1950 and $2100 depending on how I wanted to pay for the phone.

Needless to say, I searched around for other options. This is where the happy ending to my sad story comes into frame. I came across Project Fi (just wait, I’ll explain it) and immediately knew it was for me. Project Fi is essentially Google’s version of a phone company. They use cell towers from Sprint, T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular to provide 4G LTE service to the individuals using their service.

The price? It’s $20 for unlimited talk and text, and $10 for every GB of data you use. Say, for example, you are like me and want 3GB of data a month; the bill will be $50 per month before taxes. Better yet, Project Fi only charges you for the data you use. Yeah, read that again. That means if you only use 2GB of data in a month and your plan is for 3GB, you get a $10 credit on you next bill. It works the same way if you go over your limit; you only pay for what you use with no overage fees.

 Truthfully, there are only two downfalls to Project Fi. The first is that you only have the option of using two phones: Google Nexus 5x and Google Nexus 6p. However, if you like either of those (like I do), Project Fi might be a fit for you. The second is that Project Fi only lets you sign up for their service if they know they can provide good service for you. But, come on, is that really a drawback? All of this said, Project Fi has to be the next biggest thing in the realm of phone service and these major phone companies should watch their backs.

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Google’s Fi: The next big thing