Project Fi

One of the areas we are investing in and trying to build a portfolio around is next gen internet access. We have one investment and are close to another. We’d like to build a portfolio of a number of innovative and disruptive approaches to broadband internet access in the next few years.

So any new service that attempts to make internet access easier and better is of interest to me. AVC regular John Revay sent me an email today asking if I’m going to get a Project Fi account. I told him I was thinking about it. Right now it is invite only. I’ve put in a request for an invite and maybe this blog post will help me get to the front of the line.

Here’s what I like about the Project Fi offering:

1) it’s a network of networks. i get to roam on two mobile carrier networks instead of one.

2) it supplements the two carrier networks with over a million “free and verified” wifi hotspots

3) you can get mobile data internationally at the same cost as you pay for it in the US

It’s only available right now on the Nexus6, which happily is what I’m using right now.

So I’m hoping to give it a try as soon as possible. And when I do, I will let you all know how it goes.


Comments (Archived):

  1. William Mougayar

    Ah, it’s by Google. So we’re not sure how long it will stay alive. It sounds a bit elitist as a service.These were my initial impressions, but I might be wrong.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      Yeah, struck me as an Apple-esque move.

    2. Girish Mehta

      It was announced by Google at MWC last month. It is not going to be a large scale business, but they think it matters in order to help move the industry in a certain direction.Crediting of unused monthly data is a good move.

  2. Ric Fulop

    Finally Spint and T-Mobile merge, but this time with no shareholder changes πŸ™‚ Great value for the user. This will erode share from AT&T and Verizon.Take two networks which offer unlimited data. Offer them as a network of networks and now you can change by the GB but there is better coverage so the user wins.

    1. fredwilson

      Great way to think about it!

  3. awaldstein

    New-2-me.Over the last few years many of the projects I’ve worked on have been pioneering something socially new. New behaviors more than solved problems.That’s change a bit. Last mile of connectivity. Last mile of transportation. Health records. All discernible holes in our world.Thanks to you and John for the heads up on this.

  4. Donna Brewington White

    We should be taking bets on how long it takes for your invite to come through.Intro’ing this on Nexus 6 seemed a bit obscure until I realized that Project Fi is from Google.

    1. William Mougayar

      Exactly what I thought as well.

    2. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Ahhhh, that explains all the verified hotspots.

    3. Rich Mullen

      Aside from Google marketing itself, there is supposedly a technology reason why it is currently limited to the Nexus 6, i.e., the Nexus 6 has hardware in it (the SIM card, maybe its reader, and maybe something else) that allows for quick switching between the wireless service and the various wi-fi bands. If its just the SIM card and software, I don’t see why you couldn’t pop that into any mobile device.I love the “network of networks” but I understand that many of the broadband providers have, over the past couple years, provided customers with new routers having security features preventing the side-banding that Project Fi would rely on.I was planning on making the jump, but not sure it makes sense price wise (I don’t currently travel internationally much). Especially because T-Mobile has, at the moment, a two-line totally unlimited plan for $100.

      1. ShanaC


      2. Donna Brewington White

        Thanks, Rich, for more insight into the technology — or at least hardware — constraints. But it seems that this is a significant enough constraint to find a way around it — unless they just aren’t “there” yet or don’t want to be.Of course, I am an excellent example of a non-technical person who sometimes confuses technology with magic. πŸ™‚

  5. JimHirshfield

    “Please write an essay describing why you are the ideal candidate for this product.”Done

    1. fredwilson


      1. JimHirshfield


        1. Chimpwithcans

          Missed out on the A++ due to lack of real meaningful investment in technology over the years?

          1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

            :))) RolfmaoNot something I admit to often

          2. JamesHRH

            While you have been doing what, exactly?

          3. Chimpwithcans

            Note the sarcasm – clearly Fred is an ideal candidate.

          4. JamesHRH

            Missed that – my bad.

      2. LE

        Don’t click on any links you get claiming your signup to project fi has been approved without checking to make sure it’s actually from project fi.

  6. Maxwell Wessel

    Interesting — Been interested in nextgen internet access for a while. A while back at our think tank we were talking about the role this would play in the disruption of traditional media. Any thoughts on whether a Hybrid / Network of Network product will ultimately emerge as victorious vs. net new infrastructure (i.e., Something built off of new towers, tech, etc.?)

    1. Ana Milicevic

      Infrastructure is by default static and our world is increasingly mobile. To support the next wave of connected people we’ll need mobile infrastructure – hence mesh, Loon, satellite internet, etc. Exciting!

      1. awaldstein

        yupinteresting in anyone who is doing forward thinking on mesh so do share any links.

      2. pointsnfigures

        I think infrastructure is in the process of changing. See

        1. Ana Milicevic

          Yes! I’m very interested in wireless power and alternative portable charging stations (e.g. solar). I could tell you some nice war stories from the early aughts that solidified my thinking around this – mainly hails from experience working on disaster response in remote areas, but readily applicable to underdeveloped and developed world alike. In many ways those that are skipping over an entire infrastructure generation (e.g. going straight to mobile minus the landline step) are at an advantage here while the rest of us wait for our old infrastructure to be upgraded.

          1. Douglas Crets

            Wonder if it’s plausible to use drones to deliver wifi equipment that sets up remotely and autonomously for advance disaster response teams and the public. Kind of interesting to think about a drone carrying in a parcel of charged wifi phones and a transponder that beams the signal in.

  7. pointsnfigures

    like how you go from wifi to cell.

  8. Guest

    I dunno Fred, I’m not certain you would understand this product well enough…are you sure you’re the best judge/test candidate?

  9. Ana Milicevic

    I’ve been an enthusiastic user of T-Mobile’s wifi calling functionality (which one could loosely argue is somewhat of a predecessor). The main takeaway was that this type of network that switches b/w wifi & traditional tower-based network is great for data, not so great for voice (especially in areas with iffy connectivity that require frequent switching b/w one network type to another). Interestingly and coincidentally roughly around the same time I’ve scaled down my use of voice on mobile significantly in favor of voip so that makes the experience quite good. For me, disrupting the fee structure while roaming is potentially the biggest gain (and also Fi’s strongest selling point).

  10. LukeH

    I also put in my request for an invite right away. I love the approach and if the service is stable out here in the midwest where I live, it could be terrific. Just concerned that it is a Google experiment and may not be a long term option for those of us not in a Google fiber area.

  11. William Mougayar

    I love the idea of “networks of networks”, but is this a stop-gap, or a clearly differentiated solution? Just overlaying technology on top of something potentially archaic may not be a good long term solution.I wrote this morning that we drowning in The Noise of Availabilityhttp://startupmanagement.or…

    1. SubstrateUndertow

      Yup !In the physical world energy suppliers are facing the “Peak Oil” extraction constraint and in cyberspace the analogue is now the “Peak Attention” extraction constraint.

      1. William Mougayar

        Good analogy.

  12. Douglas Crets

    Do you see your internet access investments happening in developed world or developing world? Developing world has more people, and more people without access. Yet it has some of the most amazing upticks in mobile phone growth…

    1. fredwilson

      Both hopefully


      There is a lot of activity, in both. Incredible things going on in developing regions, just not a lot publicized as much to general public

    3. Russell

      Great question!

  13. Chimpwithcans

    As a foreigner, please would someone answer a noobie question – can you make a normal phone call over wireless in America – Here in Africa we have Cell phone coverage (3G, 4G LTE etc.) for calls and texts, and then we have (mostly private) wifi networks which are all on data.Is this different in the states now?

    1. Chimpwithcans

      To explain – you can’t use your phone number on the data network to make a call – only through skype or whatsapp, not the cell network. Hope that makes sense.

      1. Ana Milicevic

        You can on some carriers like T-Mobile who have wi-fi calling. To you as the user the operation of making the phone call is the same as it would be if you were connected to the cell network.

        1. Chimpwithcans

          Thanks very much.

    2. Russell

      Well come to AVC, and no need to apologise (note the spelling) for being a foreigner around here!

    3. Dan G

      I have a google voice number, and I can make and recieve phone calls, and send and recieve sms, though google hangout on my moto x on airplane mode and connected to wifi


    Pilot Fiber is something that has me excited.

  15. JamesHRH

    ITs funny how certain new offerings makes sense….and some don’t.Google is an easy target, with all the things they go after, but I often think to myself ‘sheesh, I would’t, as a user, want to do THAT with Google.’The Fiber offering and this offering however, are the exact opposite: this feels like EXACTLY the type of thing I would trust them to nail for me.Same as AWS from AMZN.Maybe its because I know that both companies are really, really good at managing their own operating costs & this fits that meme.

  16. Matt Zagaja

    When I saw this and Fred was the first person I thought of. This and the Facebook caller ID app that came out yesterday are both exciting developments that are currently Android early and could entice me to switch.

    1. pointsnfigures

      Yes, thinking of getting an Android phone to try apps like and others that aren’t on iPhone.

      1. William Mougayar

        – their iPhone app is coming-up soon πŸ™‚

    2. John Revay

      Yup – My thought exactly – that is why I dropped him a quick note..:1. He was already on T Mobile2. I think he just got the Nexus 63. Travels overseas4. Likes wi-fi5. Disrupts the Big 2 carriers6. And although I don’t think Fred is as budget conscious as I am…why pay for something you don’t use – re: I think their data plan is essentially pay for what you use, we refund you for what you don’tAll Good! – Essentially if I was designing a service – exactly what I would want.

      1. Douglas Crets

        now i’m intrigued. AT&T not an ideal carrier when you are always traveling in Aia and Africa as I do these days.

        1. John Revay

          I must of misspoke, I unfortunately do not travel much overseas.

          1. Douglas Crets

            No, you didn’t. I was using “you” in the royal sense. You as an when one always travels as I do. Not you.

      2. William Mougayar

        Do you work for Fi? πŸ˜‰

        1. John Revay

          Ha! All of those points just seem to line up w/ what Fred and others here at AVC talk about…I still stuck on Verizon w/ an outdated iOS device.

  17. someone

    could be an interesting long-term play, but for now spending $650 for a Nexus to save $15 per month on a patched-together network of Sprint & Tmo doesn’t sound like a winning customer proposition

  18. taylorwc

    One thing of note on the international data: speeds are throttled to 256kbps and 3G. Their model is awesome but obviously at the mercy of MNO’s on the throttling policy for international data.

  19. Pete Griffiths

    Put my invite in yesterday πŸ™‚

  20. Travis Henry

    Perfect moment for Google to pursue this… I’m sure as hell hurting with a nearly 24/7 stream of SoundCloud & Songza.

  21. Matthew Zadrozny

    “3) you can get mobile data internationally at the same cost as you pay for it in the US”As I think you’ve experienced, T-Mobile’s already offering this in many countries. I’ve had good data, albeit at slightly lower speeds, in Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Turkey, and Taiwan. Only hitch was in TW, where Google Voice got buggy (people can’t hear me when I call over WiFi / network), possibly because they’re going through a third party.

  22. OurielOhayon

    Fred what do you think of project Greenstone by OpenGarden ?

    1. fredwilson

      i’ve always liked Open Garden’s approach (I voted for them to win when I judged their Disrupt battlefield competition)but i’ve never been wowed by their products.

      1. OurielOhayon

        even their latest off-network project? seems promising

  23. Richard

    Does anyone here use a fixed rate plan? The majors don’t advertise them much but they sure seem like a much better deal?The futureTurn on phoneChoose Plan of the day?Uber for carriers, sorry fred πŸ™‚

  24. Tommy Chen

    This deal is only mildly better than T-mobiles offering if you are on a Family plan ($25 for unlimited talk and text + 2.5GB of 4G data per line w/ music streaming exempted). But it’s exciting no less to have any disruption in this industry, even if it just gets competitors to budge a little on offerings and pricing.

  25. BillMcNeely

    noticed the Reference to Network of Networks. General mcCrystal is coming out with a new book called Team of Teams maybe an interested and related read

  26. laurie kalmanson

    free public wifi…

  27. Don Jones

    If anyone can cobble it together, Google can. But the devil is in the details of quality and speed of the service, with low packet loss and low latency.I imagine Verizon/AT&T could position themselves as “quality” services in response to it.

    1. PhilipSugar

      Great comment, but here is the thing when it comes to technology. Sometimes paying for the “quality” is overcome by just having “quantity”.Military example: You can have a really spectacular device (gun, plane, etc) but if it overwhelmed by superior numbers you lose. I.e. AK-47 or RPG’s.

  28. LE

    The ability to use the phone number in the cloud seems to be a nice feature.With Project Fi, your phone number lives in the cloud, so you can talk and text with your number on just about any phone, tablet or laptop. So the next time you misplace your phone, you can stay connected using another screen.Essentially this is an adaptation of what can be done currently with google voice.

  29. Dave Kim

    I’ve been itching to see what Google’s MVNO would look like, and I’m really excited about Project Fi! It’s compelling not only from a tech perspective – hop onto the strongest network wherever you go – but also from a pricing perspective. By giving money back for unused data, it really does make it feel as if Google is on your side.As a current iPhone 6 + T-Mobile user, I was ready to bolt to Project Fi until I realized that it was only available on the Nexus 6. As someone toying with the idea of the Apple Watch (yeah, yeah…), I’m not ready to switch platforms just yet. I didn’t realize how sticky these additional items (e.g., Apple Watch, Project Fi) would make the existing platforms.But wow, if/once Project Fi becomes available on the iPhone, count me in!

  30. Spurres

    Google seems deliberately sparse on details. But this is very interesting direction to watch.

  31. Lucas Dailey

    Agreed, and have one other exciting point to add:4) Pay-as-you-go pricing model. This brings wireless as close to a utility as it has ever been.Glad I have an N6 and looking forward to Fi.

  32. JLM

    .It is a bit of a junkyard dog strategy in that it is an attempt to take all the “lessers” and make them competitive with their “betters.”What is not getting much play is that simple 1Gig service is becoming more and more readily available. In ATX, we have 5.5 suppliers all since Google Fiber announced. These other companies just went ahead and built it.I have 1Gig service that is blazing fast — arguably faster than I can use it — and reliable at a cheaper price than I had its predecessor 60Meg service.This is the power of competition, the good old fashioned capitalistic system at work.What will happen, is that the big guys will continue to ratchet their cost down. Nobody with an embedded base of trained payers is going to let them escape the noose for $10/month.I love the smell of capitalism in the morning.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  33. Richard Kain

    I am surprised that the valuations of the telco incumbents have not tanked in the wake of Google’s moves of Fiber & Fi to commoditize access. Only available on one phone now but you can see the writing on the wall: a standalone-GPS-type writing. Who would become a Sprint or T-Mobile subscriber after this when you’ll get more coverage, cheaper from Google, who will build out their own network over time to add to the cauldron. But maybe they’re in a better position to welcome their new alien overlords than AT&T and Verizon who are going to defend their pricing (and their dividends)…how?

  34. george

    Those are all really great likes but I keep asking myself “why” does Google want to do this, there really isn’t much margin there and I keep coming back to one thing, Data. Capturing user data at the carrier level is a neat way for them to work around their problem with closed garden platforms and mobile apps. I’m pretty sure this is the real motivator…Fully support the network approach and ultimately, it should break down current conventions. However, I do hope users are left with choices and the “option” to protect their personal data.

  35. Mark Essel

    Looking forward to the day our devices can negotiate a variety of wireless data options and purchase the cheapest bits. Good luck with Fi Fred

  36. fredwilson


  37. Pete Griffiths

    Just checked it out, very interesting.

  38. Russell

    Unfortunately I didn’t link up with Veniam when I was in Porto this month. However the general feedback on the Portuguese start up scene was a lot of the recent companies were started by engineers with no commercial experience. Very interesting technically, but some bumps in the road from science experiment to commercial enterprise. Again still second hand feedback, but I heard most companies thus were looking for more funding, and likely a move to London – likely one of several reasons why Veniam’s co-founder Joao Barros is in SF. All that being said, there was a fashion start up that recently hit a $1b valuation (the name escapes me). And there was a recent blog from a berlin VC on the dynamics that continue to likely spell the continued success of the Portuguese start up scene:

  39. pointsnfigures

    love venium’s concept. wish it were in Chicago since we are making a government effort to become the most connected city in the world.