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Google's Mobile Network Opens Up Across the US

Tim Maytom

project fi phone graphicGoogle's experimental mobile network Project Fi has been opened up to consumers in the US, enabling anyone who wants to join the service to sign up for it, where it was previously controlled by an invite and waiting list.

The project launched 10 months ago, and uses a combination of infrastructure from existing networks T-Mobile and Sprint, as well as available wi-fi signals, automatically switching between all three to seek out the fastest connection speeds and strongest signal.

In order to register for the network, users must own a Google Nexus 6, 6P or 5X handset, but Google is incentivising people to make the switch by dropping the Nexus 5X's price by $100 (£70) for the next month when users also sign up to Project Fi.

Once subscribed, users pay $20 a month for unlimited talk and texting, plus $10 per gigabyte of data used. However, Google issues refunds at the end of the month for unused data, so if you paid for 2GB and only used 1.3GB, you'd get $7 back.

While Project Fi is only available to customers in the US at the moment, the network works internationally, with 15 per cent of current customers having used it abroad, in over 100 countries, with data charged at the same rate as in the US.

According to Google's data on current customers, over 50 per cent are connecting to public wi-fi hotspots at least once a week, and use an average of 1.6GB of data per month, with 90 per cent of customers citing the ability to easily monitor their data usage as a motivator behind joining the network.

"We launched Project Fi as an invitation-only Early access program to make sure we could deliver the best quality of service to our first customers," said Simon Arscott, product manager for Project Fi. "While Project Fi is still in its early stages, we're excited to welcome our next wave of customers and look forward to growing and improving together."