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KY-FI: No Project Fi day 1

This is the second 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 reads the fine print and finds a reason to delay his activation, but things go well after a quick adjustment. Read the previous installment: KY-FI: Using Project Fi in the Bluegrass

By Tom Waggener

I jumped on the invite list as soon as I found out about Project Fi, and immediately started looking for a used Shamu... er, Nexus 6. I wasn't super excited about the biggest phablet on the market (more on that later) but I loved the idea of a multi carrier, super inexpensive phone that defaulted to wifi whenever possible.

I acquired my small tablet (it's just too big to be called a phone) and I got my (first) invite in the mail the next day, and then quickly backed off due to one tiny issue in giving up my Google voice number for Fi. Project Fi enabled numbers apparently can't be used with the Obihai, a device which we use at work to route Google Voice calls to an real, old-fashioned telephone. Its incredibly convenient, and a real, honest to goodness handset in lieu of a smartphone at work is really nice. So, I quickly signed up another gmail account so that I could get a new number to use with Project Fi.

It took about three days to get the new invite, but once I received it, I was up and running on Project Fi within an hour. The transfer was smooth, and porting my cell number from Ting took less than an hour. Standard carriers will take longer, sometimes days, most likely because they are money hungry, vindictive and spiteful, but I'm just speculating. It really shouldnt take too long to get your own phone number.

24 hours and things so far are ok, but I really can't say too much as of yet. Data was really sparse today but 1) my first day of service was the giant AT&T outage that affected all the cell towers in Kentucky and 2) it seems like every time I fire up a new phone on an MVNO there is a day of fussiness while the towers of the big four grudgingly allow it to use their precious resources. Again, this is pure speculation, but I assume it is because they are money hungry, vindictive and spiteful bastards, hell-bent on taking my money for a service that should arguably be free to all red blooded Americans. If our forefathers wanted us to be charged for cell service, then why did President Bell invent the telephone?

I will say that by the end of the evening I was picking up strong LTE all over Shelbyville, enough to stream YouTube videos of other people unboxing their Nexus 6's. Of course, over wifi it's as strong as anything else.

Day 2 started out much the way I had hoped, with LTE showing up pretty much any time I was not on wifi. My completely unscientific assumption that it takes a day or two for a new MVNO sim card to settle into the towers remains anecdotally true, based on my limited experience.

I haven't done any speed tests, though. I guess I should point out that as a cell phone tester, I spend the bulk of my days on wifi.

This makes me an ideal candidate for Fi, but I do need to make sure that the cell service is there when I need it, like when i have a breakdown on my bike in the middle of nowhere, or when I'm getting attacked by a bear, and I need to Google "what to do when you're being attacked by a bear". So far I should be able to call someone about the bear attack, but I also need the be sure I'll have the ability to look up the phone number. Is 411 even a thing anymore?

Coming soon: Coverage is good, but the phone is HUGE.

This story was posted on 2015-08-18 12:00:00
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