We’ve heard quite a bit about Google’s plans to become a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) over the past few months. The project, which is operating under the codename Nova, will “[push] the boundary of what's next” according to Sundar Pichai, Google’s SVP of Android, Chrome, and Google Apps.
When we last discussed Google’s wireless service, it was reported that it would initially be limited to the Nexus 6 smartphone. Launching a Google-based wireless service in a limited fashion with a device that features hardware and software custom tailored by Google makes sense for a company that is just looking to get its feet wet in the wireless market.
Today we’re learning more about Google’s wireless service, and unsurprisingly, that information is coming from an unofficial firmware image for the Nexus 6. Android Police was able to examine the firmware and learn quite about Google’s MVNO service. The first big takeaway is that the Nova codename will likely give way to the official name of Project Fi.
Android Police notes, “The strings used throughout the app exhaustively use the name Project Fi in reference to the app, the service, and even phones used with the service (e.g. ‘…your Project Fi phone’).”
Interestingly, Project Fi is taking a different approach to charging users for data. Unlike existing carriers which charge you for, let’s say a 6GB allotment of data per month whether you use it all or not, Google would actually refund you for the unused portion of your data plan at the end of each billing cycle. So if you were, for example, to use only 2GB of your 6GB data plan, you would receive a refund for the unused 4GB portion.
There also are no traditional overage fees should you blow past your monthly data allotment; you simply pay the usual per-gigabyte rate for data. Project Fi also takes the unusual step — for an MVNO — of allowing multiple lines to share data on a single account.
Overall, Project Fi sounds like an interesting take on traditional MVNO services and Nexus 6 users appear to be in for a real treat once it goes live. The real test, however, will be how Project Fi stacks up if and when it is opened up to all smartphones users across the U.S.