Fe Google Fi Fumble

by Colin Berkshire

This is a disaster story about Google Fi.

My wife has been a T-Mobile customer for years. They are great EXCEPT for international data where they offer S-L-O-W data. It didn’t used to be so slow. When T-Mobile’s Legere first announced free international data being included in their plans it was fast. Then, it got slower and slower. Today it is too slow for just about anything except to be listed on a sales brochure as a “feature”.

A friend has been lobbying for her to switch to Google Fi. Google Fi has FAST international data in 200 countries. And, it costs nothing different than domestic data. In the US Google Fi operates on the T-Mobile network, with access to the Sprint network if you have an android phone.

Signing up for Google Fi was simple enough, and it installed easily. She has an iPhone 6 plus and we understood in advance that it would be necessary to manually enter some APN settings, which was trivial and worked. After doing this we speed tested her phone and it returned the same speeds as T-Mobile did using a T-Mobile SIM. All seemed good.

After a day the complaints from her friends started rolling in. They couldn’t call her. And, then she realized she couldn’t call therm. Her voice service just sucked. After some quick checking a limitation of Google Fi that isn’t clearly spelled out became apparent: Google Fi does not support T-Mobile’s WiFi calling. Because our home has marginal tower coverage from T-Mobile we depend upon T-Mobile WiFi for in-home coverage. That has worked well. But on Google Fi it doesn’t work at all, and we have almost no service in our home.

It’s completely non-obvious that you lose T-Mobile WiFi calling when you switch to Google Fi.

What is it about the telecommunications industry that keeps everything so broken? Why can’t things just work? It seems that the telephony companies operate from a special place in Hell from which ways to inconvenience customers are dictated.

Proceed with Google Fi with great caution if you use or rely on T-Mobile Wi-Fi.

Related: Putting the Fi Out.