Looking to replace Project Fi


There are several things about Project Fi that are making the switch to another carrier difficult.  I’d appreciate anyone’s insights.

Here’s what works great:

Integration with Google Hangouts.  While I initially thought that voice over WiFi would be the killer feature, instead it is the seamless integration with Google Hangouts on my PC that I have found the most compelling.  Specifically, SMS/MMS messaging is consistent and seamless between phone and Hangouts client. Plus I can send/receive voice calls from my PC, too.  As the battery life on my Nexus 6p has slowly (and continually) degraded over time, I find this feature invaluable.

Let me give you an real-life example. I am a contractor working at a company that recently removed ALL physical phone handsets. They use Skype for Business with Cloud PBX to makes calls on their computers. As a contractor I do not get a phone number, although I do have Skype for Business access.  Today, I grabbed the wrong cable (micro-USB instead of USB-C) and my Nexus 6p is about to die. Fortunately, I have Hangouts on my laptop and can make calls using my headset.

Pay for Actual Use. Back when I switched to Project Fi, I gave up a 30GB shared family plan with AT&T.  While it was, at the time, a pretty good plan for the pricing, my family of 4 was not using enough data to justify the price. Three of us moved to Project Fi and one to Cricket (he didn’t want to give up his iPhone). Our monthly charge dropped dramatically. And when we do have overages, the charges are not exorbitant and we pay pro-rated only what we actually use, rather than having to purchase another entire tier of data.

International Coverage. I don’t use this often, but when I do it’s great knowing I don’t have to worry about adding/removing international roaming.

Support. We’ve found Fi support to be stellar.  My daughter broke her screen a few months in and they were able to replace her 5x with a refurb model for a very reasonable fee. That unit recently turned out to have the bootloop problem and they replaced it for free. 

Here’s what’s making me want to switch:

Phone Choices. When we signed up for service with Fi, the 5x and 6p were the offered phones. I would have been open to purchasing a higher end phone for myself, but the 6p and 5x were great mid-level phones that I had no qualms giving to my family.  The switch to the Pixel line, definitely targeted at higher-end users, is much less attractive.  My Nexus 6p is beginning to wear out and the Pixel line is not an exciting alternative to me for the price.

Actual Data Use. Through a variety of circumstances our data use has increased, while the increased competition between the carriers has decreased bucket plan and unlimited pricing.  I’m still saving a bit compared to the big three, but only because I’m more careful than I would otherwise be.

So, here’s my quest: I would like to find a solution or a set of solutions that would allow me to use my current cell number (which ends in “00”) and send/receive texts/MMS and voice calls from my computer.   It would be great if Skype would allow me to port my number and then I could use it.

Any suggestions?


Comments (14)

14 responses to “Looking to replace Project Fi”

  1. Polycrastinator

    T-Mobile. If you have reception in your area (which most places do, these days, it's a lot better than it was even a couple of years ago), I think they'll cover all your bases:

    PC based calling: T-Mobile now has a "DIGITS" service which virtualizes your phone number. You can log into their web console and make calls/send texts, or install their app on a tablet or even another phone.

    Pay for actual use: Well, er, they're cheap an unlimited.

    International Coverage: 3G speeds are included, as are voice minutes.

    Support: I've found their customer support to be really good.

    Phone Choices: Decent selection although not brilliant IMO, but you can just bring your own device (I use an iPhone, my wife bought a Pixel from Google for her phone).

    • timothyhuber

      In reply to Polycrastinator:

      Thanks, I didn't realize that their DIGITS service included calling from computer.  This could be my answer.

      • offTheRecord

        In reply to timothyhuber:

        Another option is to transfer the number from Fi to Google Voice (if that option is available to you). That way, you keep the number and you still get many of the cross-platform benefits, such as SMS and voice calls from your PC (using Hangouts). With Google Voice, all you need is a data connection, so you can make Google Voice calls and SMS over WiFi or cellular data.

        • timothyhuber

          In reply to offTheRecord:

          That's a great idea. I must confess I had not considered this given my past history with Google Voice (way back in the GrandCentral days) and then the years of no activity. I know they recently updated the platform. I'll have to check it out. Thanks.

    • Darmok N Jalad

      In reply to Polycrastinator:

      Yeah, we've been on T-Mobile for many years now, and I'll agree that coverage really improved in 2016 for me. It has always been good in the city, but the Band 12 rollout made for great improvements between big cities and towns. Just make sure your phone supports LTE Band 12 and you will likely be just fine.

      We pay $100/mo (no extra fees or taxes) for two unlimited smartphone lines and 10GB of LTE tethering. I think they get cheaper as you add more lines after two.

      As a side note, a coworker and I took a road trip to some remote areas recently, and he was on Sprint. There were some dead zones for both of us, but my coverage was considerably better than his. He said Sprint is only good in town for him. I suppose that will vary by area though.

      • timothyhuber

        In reply to Darmok N Jalad:

        Of course, I have the good fortune to live in Danbury CT, right between Hartford CT and the Stamford/Bridgeport CT area which rank as #123 and #124, respectively, on RootMetric's latest ranking of mobile service in the 125 largest metro areas.

    • timothyhuber

      In reply to Polycrastinator:

      So I made the jump to T-Mobile last week. Picked up a Note 8 and got a rebate back on an S8 for my wife. Digits is hit and miss and doesn't seem to reliably sync text messages. I'm sure it will get better. WiFi Calling coverage on the device is great.

      I will say, I have been blown away by the quality of VOLTE, which Project FI didn't support. Call quality is incredible.

  2. maisieacton10

    I'm confirming that Project Fi support that you will be unable to fit the SIM card from the Nexus 6 into the new phones, assignment service uk is an important factor in project Fi and everybody should have to allow and disallow certain phones on certain networks. It's a rollback of portability for sure..