New Delhi: Earlier this month, Google announced its plans to make international roaming free. On Wednesday, the search giant launched its own mobile phone network in the US that switches between WiFi and cellular networks to curb data use and cut down on the phone bills.
The Google-run network, dubbed Project Fi, is only available through invitation and currently supports only the Google Nexus 6 phones and will be hosted through Sprint Corp and T-Mobile's networks. The network is supported in 120 countries without roaming charges.
Project Fi service automatically switches between the two networks and more than one million open, free WiFi spots, depending on which signal is the strongest. The service will cost users $20/month plus $10 per gigabyte of data used. For the unused data, users will get their money back.
Google says that when a user is not on WiFi, the service will automatically move between whichever of their partner networks is delivering faster speed, so that users get 4G LTE in more places. All the connections will be encrypted and stored in the cloud, allowing users to have flexibility of device usage.
Project Fi will enable low-cost calling in many countries and data access at 3G speeds without additional charges.
Although there are fears that Google's own wireless network will disrupt the wireless industry, research director at Gartner, Brian Blau, says that as the service will only be available on one device and has limited carrier coverage, it won't make Google a major wireless industry player.
He opines that if Google is able to provide features such as being able to provide transition from network connectivity to WiFi and differentiate itself from the traditional carrier providers, there is a possibility that it could become a major wireless player in the future.
With Project Fi, Google will be able to promote better its own services including its popular search engine, maps, Gmail, and YouTube. The company believes that it will be able to monetize the user interest for these services by making them stay online for longer periods.
(With inputs from agencies)