Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) Project Fi MVNO appears to be experiencing huge demand for the service as the company said it will likely be late July or early August before everyone who requested an invitation will get one.
The Project Fi service uses Wi-Fi hotspots for calling and data in addition to cellular connections from Sprint (NYSE: S) and T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS). Currently, the service only works with the high-end, Motorola-made Nexus 6 smartphone, which sells for $650 unlocked. Google announced the service a month ago.
"Over the past few weeks, we've been happy to bring the first customers onto Project Fi and the initial feedback has been very positive," Google said in an email to those who had requested invitations, according to multiple news outlets. "We're sending invites as quickly as we can, while ensuring a high-quality experience. Given the number of requests we've received, we currently estimate that it will take until mid-summer to get to everyone."
The search giant said it will provide a way for people to check the status of their invitation requests in the next few weeks.
Google said it has developed new technology that intelligently connects customers to the fastest available network at their location, whether it's Wi-Fi or an LTE network. Project Fi automatically connects users to more than 1 million free, open Wi-Fi hotspots that Google says it has verified as fast and reliable and that Google will encrypt once a user is connected. If a customer leaves an area of Wi-Fi coverage, Google says the calls will seamlessly transition from Wi-Fi to the cellular network.
For $20 per month plus taxes and fees, the service offers access to around 1 million U.S. Wi-Fi hotspots and unlimited domestic voice and texting, as well as unlimited international texting and low-cost international calling in more than 120 countries. Customers pay an additional $10 per GB for data. Importantly, at the end of the month, Google will credit users for their unused data, so that users only pay for what they use.
MVNOs like Republic Wireless, Scratch Wireless and FreedomPop that use a Wi-Fi-first model have said they do not see Project Fi as a competitive threat. Instead, these companies say that the search giant's entrance into the wireless market is a validation of the Wi-Fi-first concept. Executives at Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) and AT&T (NYSE: T) have said they will take a wait-and-see approach to gauge how consumers respond to Project Fi.
- see this The Verge article
- see this 9to5 Google article
- see this PhoneScoop article
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