Analyst: Google Fi's new group plan 'another arrow' to take on Cricket, MetroPCS

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Google’s Project Fi MVNO isn’t yet much of a threat to existing prepaid service providers. But its new group plans bring it one step closer to competing against brands such as Cricket Wireless and MetroPCS, Current Analysis said.

Google earlier this week announced new plans that enable users to add up to five additional lines for $15 each, marking a $5 discount from its $20 monthly base price. Like Google Fi’s individual plans, the new offerings include unlimited talk and text; users pay for data as they use it at a rate of $10 per gigabyte.

The offering bests similar plans from Boost Mobile, Cricket Wireless and MetroPCS, Current Analysis noted, each of which allow only five users. But those carrier brands shouldn’t lose much sleep over Google’s new MVNO offering yet, the firm said, because “Project Fi still does not present a substantial threat to existing carriers.”

Indeed, while Project Fi may eventually emerge as a disruptive force in wireless, it must overcome some significant hurdles. The service is available on only a handful of phones, including newer Nexus models and the recently announced Pixel, and unlimited-data plans from established carriers are sure to be more attractive to heavy users.

However, the group plan does give Google “another arrow in its quiver when it comes to establishing itself as a serious competitor to major prepaid and postpaid brands,” Tammy Parker of Current Analysis wrote in a research note. The introduction of a group plan was necessary to take on those larger service providers, according to Parker, and Google can use the launch of the Pixel to promote its MVNO.

Google’s “willingness to get on board with multi-line plans shows Project Fi is willing to meet rivals on common ground, raising its competitive positioning,” Parker wrote. “Furthermore, its management interface for the group plan should give rivals some ideas for making it easier for their own customers to manage the activities of members on their plans. Prepaid rivals that limit their group plans to five consumer lines should consider upping their consumer allowance to at least six lines.”

For more:
- see Google’s Project Fi group plan announcement

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