Google Project Fi – The devil is in the details

Google Fi LogoAs I continue to look for further information on Project Fi until my invite arrives, there are a few things that you need to know –

Several articles are reporting that Project Fi will only work with the Nexus 6 phone, period. That is and isn’t true. At this point, Google has only announced that the Nexus 6 will work. That applies to when the service first starts up. Once Google has Project Fi running the way it should, it is reasonable to expect that more phones will join the list.

The next question why the Nexus 6 ? The first thing I would suggest is taking a good look as the specifications for the phone. At this point, I should start referring to the Nexus 6 as a data device instead of a phone. Look at the list of LTE bands and other cellular frequency ranges supported and compare that to comparable phones. What caught my attention was that some of the supported bands appeared to be unique to CDMA carriers. Compare this to other phones that are currently available and you will start to see what I have.

The Nexus line serves as Google’s hardware reference platform. Google is showing the hardware vendors what type of phone they expect to work best with Project Fi. Some country specific changes might occur as service goes beyond the US.

Now to a question that had even me curious – why were Sprint and T-Mobile selected for the initial rollout ? Look past the obvious that they are smaller than the big two carriers. They are the first to start supporting Voice over LTE (VoLTE). By streamlining the amount of equipment required on each tower for each provider, the cost to operate is lower. In an ideal world, our monthly bill should also be less.

Some concerns have come up over Google’s use of open (unencrypted) hotspots. In this situation, the phone will establish a VPN connection to protect the data traffic. It is reasonable that at some point, you will be able to specify your own VPN tunnel instead. While specifics haven’t given, it is reasonable that more information will be available later.

With the phone checking for the best signal between Sprint, T-Mobile and WiFi, battery life be an issue. This will be something that it will take some testing by the initial users of Project Fi and some tweaking of the firmware to optimize. Being able to not have to worry about call drops will be nice.

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