Google Fi is Faux

by Colin Berkshire

I get asked quite a lot about Google FI.

Google FI is a phone service where you pay $10 per gigabyte. This rate is effectively pro-rated into partial gigabytes. The great thing is that you can use your data in any of 120 countries. (If you want voice service this is a flat $20 a month for your home country.)

Google FI is great in two regards: You are connected worldwide for a reasonable price, and, you only pay for what you use. It’s simple, fair, and understandable.

There are three downsides to Google FI:

1) It only works with a few selected devices. I don’t happen to own any of those devices. Bummer.

2) The international speeds kinda suck. They are usually in the range of 256kbps. I can’t imagine why any country or Google would want to limit how much of something you can buy. At $10 a month it should be wonderfully profitable for everybody, since the real going rate for incremental gigabytes of data is about $2 per GB.

3) The $10 rate isn’t that good for heavy users. When i travel I use about 10 GB of data, which would cost $100 with Google FI. My SIM in Thailand gives me 12 GB for $25. My SIM in Hong Kong gives me 10 GB for about $30. It means watching a Netflix movie could cost you $6 to $10.

What I love about Google FI is the simplicity and fairness of it. If they would fix the speed cap and make it work on more devices that would be just great. It could be a perfect service.

The $10 per gigabyte rate should be a winner for Google and the global cellular companies. The incremental cost of gigabytes globally seems to be about $2. So cellular companies could get $2 of the $10, Google could get $2 of the $10, and that would leave $6 of the $10 for whatever. That is, it seems this should be universally profitable for all parties.

I hope that Google FI expands and sets a model for the future.

I really can’t think of an honest reason why Verizon and AT&T and all carriers couldn’t be happy with $10 per gigabyte when traveling globally.