August 23, 2017
I’m going to start out with the fact that I have been unhappy with Verizon for more than two years. I have put up with their crappy overall attitude toward customers for too long. As a customer of about ten years, I was never happy with their customer service but my phone always worked everywhere so I just accepted it even though nearly every other wireless company had better plans.
I don’t make a lot of money so I tried several times this past year to get them to find me a less expensive plan. I even said I was willing to have less data. Their answer was actually to try to sell me a larger data plan for more money, telling me that my current low data plan was obsolete, grandfathered in, and would not be available. Either way, I was at a turning point. No matter what I decided, I would have to commit to a new two year contract if I stayed with them and made any change to my plan.
I asked them to give me one reason why I should stay with them when other carriers are so much cheaper. The only reason they could come up with was, and I swear this is an exact quote, “You get what you pay for. You’ll get awful coverage if you switch.”
All of this and Verizon’s selfish, greedy position on Net Neutrality have totally soured me on them, which wasn’t a far journey from the place they had already pushed me. They have fought ceaselessly against a free and open internet and against their classification as a Title II common carrier and now seem to have the full support of the FCC.
The many instances just this week alone show their obsessive quest to control internet communication and disrupt the health of the internet as a whole. They act as if I should be praying at their feet to receive all the slaps in the face they give. I believe I am getting out just in time (if not too late). Good riddance Verizon and screw you Ajit Pai!
Update, 9/21/2017: Now Verizon is cutting off customers for using a couple of gigabytes per month.
Anyway, it was time to end this abusive relationship. The end of the billing period was near and a new billing period would be starting soon. I thought I should find a substitute before closing my account so I decided I would stay for one more month. This was two days before my billing cycle ended. Then, I got a text message from Verizon telling me that I used 90% of my data (I have reasons to believe that is not accurate, but how I know this is not important for now). Ten to fifteen minutes later I got a text that I was out of data. They forced me to buy 1GB (non-rollover) at $15 for overage two days before the end of the billing period.
I could not opt out… I called to tell them I don’t want anymore data for the one usable day left in my billing cycle. Ya think they cared… Nope! The data does not rollover so what I actually had to pay was $15 for about 80MB that I used that next day before the billing cycle reset.
Geeze! Next time you screw me, be gentle! That was the moment I made the decision.
So leaving all that unpleasantness behind me…
I had been checking out many carriers and plans — I’ll spare you the entire list– but in the search I kept finding myself running upon articles on Google Project Fi and some reviews.
At this point I would like to make it very clear that no one pays me for my opinions nor am I affiliated with Google. I just want to share my (mostly) positive experiences with Project Fi. So, on to my review of Google’s Project Fi.
I first heard about Fi a year ago and thought, “Meh…” but this time I was really listening. The reviews were great but everyone said it is different… I am one of those people who fears change, so I avoided switching until that last straw from Verizon made it an obvious thing to try. Project Fi does not force you into a two year contract so it’s worth giving it a chance.
Quick caveat: At the moment, you must have a Nexus or Pixel phone to use this service (more on that in a bit). — Update, 9/21/2017 : This limitation looks to be changing soon with Moto X4.
I originally really didn’t want to have to buy a new phone but I did the calculations and even with having to buy a new phone, I was still saving money from switching off of Verizon. My monthly bill would be a lot lower and I calculated that switching from Verizon would save enough to have the new phone paid for in about 13 months.
So, I switched… I got the required Pixel phone with 0% interest for 24 months. Not so bad.
The prices for service are pretty good. $20 for basic cell service (unlim. Voice/Text) and $10/GB for as much or as little data as you need. Any data you don’t use gets reimbursed 100% on your next bill. Project Fi will connect to Google verified WiFi hotspots so a good portion of the time you will probably not be using your plan data at all. This billing cycle that is just starting, I get $6.57 back because I paid for 2GB last billing cycle but didn’t use it all. You can also have multiple phones or other devices on your account (they share the data). If you use a lot of data the cost can be kind of high, though not unreasonable.
If you want unlimited data, Google Fi might not be the best option for you. Some carriers have plans that are better if you need 4GB or more per month but for those who use less, this plan might be great. They now have unlimited for $60 (no commitment) — See update below.
UPDATE: Feb 3rd, 2018 — Google Fi just added “Bill Protection” which kicks in automatically at 6GB. You are on unlimited at that point. This means that the most you will ever pay for data is $60 ($10/gig). You still only pay for what you use. So on those months that you need unlimited, you get it for $60 — but for any months you aren’t using >6GB it goes back to paying for what you use. It’s having unlimited only for those months you use it but not being locked into a fixed contract. It’s automatic, so you never have to worry about it. Win-freaking-win!
The Fi app is very clear and easy to read and you know exactly what you are being billed for; How much you use is spelled out day by day and the customer support is unmatched. I had to call them a few times and they are really nice and attentive.
Now about the requirement to use Nexus/Pixel.
As of the time of this writing, you have to have a Google Pixel or Nexus phone to utilize Project Fi’s network switching which automatically switches your phone to the strongest connection available at the time. Google has partnered with T-Mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular which the phone will choose between or will switch to VOIP if a WiFi connection is available. At my house, I am usually connected to Sprint but mostly everywhere else in my city I am on T-mobile. There are hotspots verified by Google in many places and your phone will connect using an encrypted VPN when it detects one of those hotspots.
I got my phone, switched it on, and followed some on-screen prompts. The phone said switching my number from Verizon might take 8 hours but my new phone was actually accepting calls in about 15 minutes.
The data connection is amazing! My phone connection is actually faster than my home internet connection most of the time when I’m on T-Mobile’s network. Sprint is pretty fast as well but from my experience, not as fast as T-Mobile (at least in my area). My home connection is faster than Sprint.
In every case I tested, Google Fi was an order of magnitude faster than what I was getting on Verizon. I have also been using Fi for about a month and have not found any spots where I don’t have a signal. Great, so far. Individual experiences vary depending on your area, of course and you should check the coverage map before joining.
Now, I did mention “my (mostly) positive experiences with Project Fi” in an earlier paragraph. There was a problem — I was told originally when I signed up that I could still use my Google Voice number. Well that’s kinda true (mostly true but with an asterisk). Someone at Fi either gave me bad information or misunderstood what I was asking because I was told that signing up to Fi would not affect my Google Voice number.
Project Fi basically has at its heart some reformulation or variant of Google Voice so… Yes, you can keep your Google Voice Number. *It becomes your Fi number. That would be ok except I had a phone number to transfer to Fi from my Verizon phone and I also used Google Voice for business. That broke my business phone until I could transfer that number to a different Google account. But here’s where the real problem with that is… They don’t support having multiple Google Voice accounts ringing your phone and since your phone number is now a Google Voice number you can only have one.
I had my Google Voice number for years and it was already being used by my clients. I had to find a workaround and Google did not have any answers for me other than “submit a feature request.” It sucked to find this out in this way but with some quick thinking, I was able to forward my business Google Voice number to my Skype number and install the Skype app on my phone. Problem solved. I now get my business line forwarded from Google Voice through Skype to my phone. Yay!
Overall, this was a fast, seamless, and thoroughly pleasant switch. I am happier about cell phones than I have been in a long time. I realize that Project Fi is not ideal for everyone but for those who need this kind of plan, I think it’s a strong replacement for the Big Four carriers. The most satisfying part is giving Verizon the boot! I hope that many people switch away from Verizon. I don’t care if you use Project Fi or some other carrier, just do yourself a favor and ditch Verizon. If they keep treating people like crap and expecting those people to bow down to them like gods, I think they will loose customers.
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