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KY-FI: Using Project Fi in the Bluegrass

This is the first of a multipart series about the use of Google's new Network of Networks in the wilds of Kentucky. Project Fi looks to be a homerun in big cities, where Sprint and TMobile have solid coverage. Tom will find out how well it works in a more rural setting, and whether carting around the massive Nexus 6 is a reasonable compromise for $20/month unlimited talk and text.

By Tom Waggener

I come from a long line of men who hate the phone company and suspect that any and all charges incurred by phone usage are some manner of theft. The cellular age has been no different, and I have continally searched for the least offensive phone company available. Least offensive being cheapest, while allowing the most freedom, and occasionally listening as I get irate with customer service about a problem I clearly created.


For the last 2 years, I have been on Ting, an MVNO that uses Sprint and AT&T towers, and it has been good for the most part. My biggest problem with Ting is that it is really not for heavy users of any sort, and I talk on the phone a lot. This has lead to an anxious frugality towards phone use, with me constantly chasing the best way to route calls via Google Hangouts and/or Google Voice, and frequently overthinking my cell phone usage while travelling.

Googles Project Fi on paper sounds perfect for a phone-company-hater like myself. It primarily relies on a traditionally non-phone-related network: wifi (thus the "Fi"). Google's new "network of networks" defaults to wifi for everything whenever possible, which is great for them because wifi calls and data cost them nada. When not on wifi, or when leaving wifi, it "seamlessly" hands off to either T-Mobile or Sprint towers to maintain the call/Facebooks/Words with Friends. I use literal air quotes because the "seamless" seems like a stretch. I will be fervently testing this technology in my blog/long term review.

If this is your first introduction to Google's Fi, here are a few things you need to know, some of which I already said:
  1. It works on wifi, Sprint and T-mobile. So it combines the three worst cell providers in the US to make them a VERY strong 4th.

  2. It only works on the Nexus 6, codenamed "Shamu" because it could be used to bludgeon a whale to death. It's big. Really, really big. And you can't use any other phones, so don't even think about it (I will try). It is great for a small tablet that doubles as a phone. A Tab-hone, if you will. Phonelet? I don't know--there must be a name for it, but it seems like a tough one.

  3. It costs 20 bucks a month for all the talk and text you can eat. You also pay 10 bucks a gigameg. Whats better, if you sign up for 2 gigajoules and only use 1.7, they refund you 3 dollars, unlike the really evil phone carriers, who take and keep your money regardless of your usage, and occasionally tack on a ridiculous fee just to boost their yearly profits. (Really: time.com).

  4. It's Google. THEY OWN YOU. This can be seen as a positive or negative thing. I like to see it as a positive, since Google can predict what I am going to do next and sometimes make my day more efficient by reminding me of where I parked the car, my wife's birthday, or Googlemas, that joyous day of the year that I kneel facing west and pay homage and tithe to Google.

So strap in for a fun-filled ride into the crazy corners of darkest tech land with lots of references to phones, bars, signals and "power gaming". I'm pretty new to it as well, so the content is pre-dumbed-down.

Next: KY-FI: No Project Fi day 1


This story was posted on 2015-08-16 09:18:28
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KY-FI: More screen, more magazine



2015-08-16 - Shelbyville, KY - Photo by Pen.
So far, the biggest drawback to Project Fi is the sheer size of the phone required. Project Fi only works on the Nexus 6. It's a mixed blessing. The phone dwarfs pockets and cupholders, but all that screen real estate makes web browsing and Netflix-watching easier than ever. Here, the phone is compared with the iPhone 4s, which was discontinued less than a year ago.

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KY-FI: Just how big is the Nexus 6?



2015-08-16 - Shelbyville, KY - Photo by Pen. A dramatic re-enactment of any comparison between the Nexus 6 and smaller phones.
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