Project Fi Is In Motion
As of the writing of this post, my last cell phone bill was $300.
As of the writing of this post, I have five phones on this account: Mine, my wife’s, my daughter’s, and my two in-laws. Two phones are Android, two are iPhones, and one is a flip-phone. All but two are “paid off”. We have “700 minutes” of talk and unlimited domestic texting. My wife and I, longtime carrier users, are grandfathered into a truly unlimited data plan. My daughter and in-laws have 3GB of data per month each.
$300 per month.
So we’re switching to Google Fi. That’s about $20 for the plan, and a total of $50 for our data selections (3GB for me, 2GB for my wife). I purchased a 32GB Pixel phone, broken out into payments of about $28/month over two years. Our total bill will be around $112 a month.
My in-laws will be moving to another carrier because they get better reception at home with that other service.
My daughter will be set adrift on her own account at our current carrier because she refuses to give up her iPhone, and she still has to finish paying the extortion fee that the carrier demands in place of the traditional phone subsidy. We can break that down to about $85/month until she’s done paying off her phone in 2018, at which point she’ll only cost $60.
This process has been a massive headache. There are four groups of users involved: My wife, who is free of contractual involvement, her parents who are also free but who want to move to another carrier, me, who has a few months left on my current contract, and my daughter, who has a whole year left on hers. There’s early termination fees and massive dollar payouts in order to get out from under the conditions, and my wife needs a new phone because her’s is broken — should she get a cheap phone and ride out the rest of the contracts, or get a whole new phone and lock ourselves into this carrier for another two years?
I’ve gone back and forth with carrier reps over the past few days to try and suss out the specifics in order to forge a way ahead. I have a letter telling me that I can cancel my contract without the ETF because they’re raising the price of my grandfathered data plan, so I hope to use that. The reps confirmed that my daughter can stay where she is with a lesser plan and we won’t have to pay the $400+ to buy out the rest of her phone. My wife and in-laws can move at any time, so thank goodness for small favors.
But we’re not out of the woods yet. Google is handling the transfer of my line and my wife’s line. I am expecting our current carrier to throw me grief about ETF because Google is canceling my contract on my behalf; I’m going to have to wield that “get out of jail free” letter at someone at some time, I know it. And although I’ve gotten reassurances from carrier reps that we can do everything we want and need to do to minimize the pain of this process, I fully expect there to be some kind of massive hiccup that I’m going to have to accept, or get angry with someone about on the phone or in person.
Add to that something that friend mentioned: although Google Fi is a relatively inexpensive service, Google has a track record of supporting projects until they suddenly don’t. What’s stopping them from pulling the plug on Fi in a year? Or two? I hope the fact that it’s a paid service with serious real-world repercussions will force them to push the service forward, but who knows.