Errata Security discusses Google’s Project Fi.
An “MVNO” is a virtual mobile phone company — they don’t have any of their own network backbone or cell towers, but just rent them from the real mobile phone companies (like AT&T or T-Mobile). Most mobile phone companies are actually MVNOs, because building a physical network is expensive.
What makes Google’s MVNO interesting:
- Straightforward pricing. It’s $20 a month for unlimited calling/texting, plus $10 per gigabyte of data used during the month. It includes tethering.
- No roaming charges, in 120 countries. I can fly to Japan, Australia, and France, and still use email, Google maps, texting — for no extra charge.
In-country phone calls are free, but international phone calls still cost $0.20 a minute — unless you are on WiFi, in which case it’s free. Again, this is a feature provided by other mobile phone companies and MVNOs.
In short, Google is really doing nothing new. They are just providing what you’d expect of a 21st century phone service without all the pricing shenanigans that other companies go through in order to squeeze extra money out of you.
Plus you get to choose what area code you’d like your number to be in.