Free International Data Roaming: Our Experience with Google’s Project Fi after 14 months.

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We haven’t written about Google’s Project Fi since we switched three of our phones to their service in December, 2015. During that time, we’ve received a few questions on our experiences with it.

For those who don’t know what Project Fi is, here’s some background:

  • $30 a month (unlimited voice and text from anywhere in the world plus 1GB of data)
  • $10 for each additional gigabyte of data regardless of where you are
  • Unlimited tethering
  • Credit back for any data you don’t use at dollar increments for every 100MB.
  • 3G speed (256Kbps) when roaming internationally
  • No contract

When we wrote about it, we pointed to a few downsides:

  • Slow connecting to networks when roaming internationally (can take up to 5 minutes to connect)
  • Only available on three Android phones
  • Requires a personal Gmail account
  • No family plans

In the last 14 months, we think Google has improved Project Fi.

  • Connecting to networks when roaming is a lot faster now. It’s still not as fast as AT&T, Verizon or T-Mobile, but definitely a lot faster. You don’t have to wait 5 to 10 minutes when you land in a new country for it to find a network.
  • 4G/LTE when roaming – this is great because you can tether for free. We stopped carrying our global mobile hotspot when Google upgraded their roaming speeds.
  • Data only SIMs for an additional $10 – add a data only SIM for your tablet etc for $10/month per 1GB of data
  • While Project Fi does not have a true family plan, you can add an additional line for $25/month. It comes with unlimited voice, text and 1GB of data. Each additional gigabyte is $10/month.

The service is still a work in progress. In our 14 months, we have been to Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Ecuador, Germany, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Martinique, Mexico, Portugal, Sri Lanka, Spain, Sweden and Thailand with our Project Fi phones. Only in Ecuador did we have issues – it worked fine around the airport but as we ascended to a higher altitude in Quito, there was no service. That brings us to the next point, in general, Google’s Project Fi works very well in urban areas, but as your go into the countryside, service is spotty or non-existent.

(If you follow us on Instagram, you know we were also in Mynamar. We didn’t list it above because Google Project Fi does not have any roaming partners in Mynamar.)

Conclusion:

If you travel with any frequency internationally, at the moment, Google’s Project Fi is the best option if you are not married to Apple products. It is better than T-Mobile because Google’s Project Fi will always be in 4G/LTE mode regardless of phone/country combination while T-Mobile steps down to lower speeds quite often.

If you are interested in signing up, use our referral link and save $20. (We will also receive a $20 credit). Thanks in advance if you do use our link to sign up.

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32 Responses to "Free International Data Roaming: Our Experience with Google’s Project Fi after 14 months."

  1. Coach says:

    There’s a typo about group plan… the price of an additional user on group plan is $15 not $25.

    Reply
    • The Flight Deal says:

      @Coach – the $15 does not include any data. so once you add 1GB (which is the minimum), its $25/month.

      Reply
    • Chris says:

      There’s all kinds of typos/misleading information in this.

      The plan is $20/month for unlimited talk and text, then $10/gig. Your argument that you have to sign up for a minimum of 1 gig may make sense for that, but it’s even further undercut by your other mistake saying that “Credit back for any data you don’t use at dollar increments for every 100MB.” That’s wrong. You get it back in penny increments. So, you NEVER pay for what you don’t use, down to the megabyte. So, you’d just get the money back every month.

      Reply
    • James Nelson says:

      Project fi sucks it’s the worst can not separate call I’d on a group plane worst experience ever Don’t do it up get what u pay for cheap bill =cheap service

      Reply
  2. Christie Smith says:

    I’ve been with Project Fi for three months and love it. I traveled to Italy in November and had service everywhere….Including a brief stop at the Paris airport. I’ll never go back to AT&T.

    Reply
  3. Linda Carter says:

    How well does the phone work in the usa? is it a reliable phone service like verizon or at&t, or do you simply use it for traveling out of the country.

    Reply
    • The Flight Deal says:

      @Linda – in the US, it uses T-Mobile, Sprint or US Cellular. It will automatically pick the best signal. We havent had any issues (we are NYC based).

      Reply
  4. JASON K DAVIS says:

    When you say tether for free, it’s not really free right? It counts towards your data correct? Roaming is free but I wanted to clarify the tethering.

    Reply
    • The Flight Deal says:

      @Jason – yes, it comes out of your data bucket. but there isn’t an extra fee to enable tether. data regardless how you consume it will always be $10/GB

      Reply
  5. Ed S. says:

    I *love* Fi. I used to travel internationally with T-Mobile, but after they failed to set up my account properly…leaving me without service over a holiday and requiring several hours with customer support instead of enjoying my vacation…I swore never to deal with Tmo again.

    Since then, I’ve taken Fi with me to major cities in Korea, China, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Panama, Japan, and the Philippines (unfortunately, they didn’t have a partner in Vietnam). The only issue I had was that I once had to reset the APN settings when the service recognized that I moved from one foreign country to another but failed to make a data connection (deleting the APN’s and rebooting the phone fixed the problem.)

    I also use Fi as my main service at home; no problems whatsoever in Northern California or the places I’ve visited since switching (Tulsa, OK and Phoenix, AZ). Highly recommended…and looking forward to using it in Hong Kong in the near future!

    Reply
  6. Alex says:

    Project Fi has family plans now.

    Reply
  7. J-Man says:

    I gave up reading after “We haven’t wrote.”

    Reply
  8. Peter says:

    Project Fi works with iPhones too.

    The greatest advantage is you can suspend and resume service with a click online. As I travel extensively, I just resume service when I’m leaving one country for another and then suspend it once I’ve obtained pre paid sims from the destination country.

    Used it in over 35 countries so far with no issues on my iPhone.

    Reply
  9. Caleb says:

    This article and your replies to comments show you don’t really understand project Fi. $20 plus data cost(1c per MB) there’s no real 10GB minimum. They just have you choose a data amount when you sign up for some reason. $15 for extra lines. Not $25 with extra data. Seriously? The data just adds together for all lines. 5 android phones(Nexus 6, 5X, 6P, Pixel, and Pixel XL). Data sim card is free. Wow this is bad. It seems like you guys just skimmed the project Fi website for your info. That would explain why you said there’s only 3 compatible android devices. I guess you could say there’s 4 if you consider the pixel and pixel XL as one device

    Reply
  10. CJK says:

    Tel Aviv Israel the service works great. While my international colleagues were scrambling around town to buy overpriced SIM cards, I was up and running from the moment I walked off the plane. WiFi calls were sometimes free back to the US, sometimes not. This was a bit strange and confusing, but still way better than buying local SIM cards.

    Reply
  11. Joshua Lillis says:

    “Only available on three Android phones” doesn’t it support 4 phone models now (6,6p,5x,pixel), 5 if you say pixel xl is separate.

    Reply
  12. Romy Clemente says:

    I traveled to Ecuador from Jan. 28, 2017 to Feb. 14, 2017 with my Nexus 6p Project Fi. As soon as our plane landed @UIO my cell picked-up a signal as if I didn’t leave the US. From Quito to Cuenca to Loja I consistently got very good data connections. I will not travel out of the US without my project Fi Nexus 6p!

    Reply
  13. gabor pinter says:

    On N 6 worked fine at London Heathrow airport, but failed in Budapest hu. Fi claimed have support but couldn’t connect to networks even though N6 saw the 3 network. Fi support assistant couldn’t resolve issue forcing me to buy a local SIM and suspend Fi.

    Reply
    • The Flight Deal says:

      @gabor – we haven’t been to Budapest with Fi, but in Sri Lanka, the only way we were able to get data was asking Fi support for the roaming partner code in the form *#*#XXXXXX#*#* where the X is a number. punching that code in the phone dialer will force Fi to connect to the roaming partner instead of relying on the autosearch logic. that has worked for us when we have issues connecting.

      Reply
      • Alex says:

        Went to Mexico with my NEXUS 5X with Fi and had no problems at all. Could it be possible that people that switched to Project Fi using their Google Voice phone number have had a different experience than users that ported their number from another carrier such as Verizon or ATT? I mention it because my friend switched to Project Fi a month after I did (April 2016}. We both had Verizon except I ported my Google Voice number, he ported his Verizon number and he’s kept having to contact support and I on the other hand haven’t really had any issues. He’s switched back to Verizon because of all the issues he had with our area (Dallas, TX) and traveling to Mexico a few times a year to visit family.

        Reply
        • The Flight Deal says:

          @Alex – we had the reverse story – we ported a line from GV over to Fi and that was the phone that was giving us issues with texting. Took a few support chats to get it fixed.

          we also had a Fi phone that didn’t work tethering

          Reply
          • Alex says:

            @The Flight Deal @Everyone – People also have to keep in mind that Project Fi is basically a beta for the foreseeable future. Some people are lucky and have no issues with the service, others have nothing but problems. In the grand scale of phone carriers, Fi is just a baby compared to the likes of Verizon, AT&T, Etc. That’s why they’re able to go the extra miles such as offering excellent customer service (at least in my experience!). They gave out freebies to their users during Christmas season and many other things I’ve read about. I also don’t use Hangouts, I use the dialer and a third party texting app called Pulse. Maybe all those things make a difference? Or it could just be a bad combo of problems between software, hardware, phone, Fi service. Bottom line in my personal opinion and experience with Fi has been nothing but stellar and have been happy since I made the switch from Verizon. I highly recommend 2 apps called Signal Spy and Signal Info specifically made for Fi users. Auto dials hidden codes to force-switch carriers, CONNECTION REPAIR, what band you’re on and the list goes on with lots of other great features and helpful information to make life easier for us fellow Project Fi users!

  14. Dennis J. Benjamin says:

    I switched to Project Fi a year ago. Haven’t even been outside the country yet. It’s the best economical decision I’ve made. My bill hasnt been over $50 a month yet..

    Reply
  15. Sean says:

    I have used fi in Australia. The coverage was great. There was a bit of cross network issues with other people. I could receive text and calls from Sydney based company workers but not Melbourne based ones. I was in Melbourne at the time.

    Reply
  16. Kumar says:

    There is no unlimited tethering. It comes out of your data plan when not roaming and you pay 10/GB when in international roaming.

    Reply
  17. Prasad Enjeti says:

    Project Fi is amazing. I was able to launch Google search in China and teather in London and all over India.

    Reply
  18. Fred Batnes says:

    International data is *not* free. It is $10/GB, billed to the penny, just like domestic data.

    Reply
  19. Nat says:

    Please correct: we haven’t written.
    We haven’t wrote is grammatically incorrect.

    Reply
  20. Kirill says:

    Thanks for the update. Can use this referral code also you’re thinking about getting a Fi plan. 4D146U
    I’ve been on it for 1 month and have nothing but good things to say!

    Reply

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