As of today, Google is officially a mobile carrier. Well, technically. Let's backup for just a second. As of today, Google is officially an MVNO.
The entire premise behind Google Project Fi is that as you move around, the coverage of your network provider tends to vary. By tapping into your phone's location services, Fi will be able to intelligently switch from Wi-Fi to LTE, using one of it's two current partners - Sprint and T-Mobile. This dynamic carrier should theoretically mean that you, as the end user, should bear witness to higher call quality, and fewer dropped calls.
The kicker behind Project Fi is how it's priced.
It's a $20/month base fee, and $10/GB pay per use. When you compare it to most two-year terms on any North American provider, it's priced extremely competitively. For example, right now my contract with Rogers Canada is $85/month + taxes for unlimited calling and texting Canada wide with no roaming fees. However, I only have 2GBs of data, which I go over almost every month. I could switch to a cheaper plan using WIND, but that would then mean I lose quite a bit of coverage as soon as I leave the downtown core of Toronto.
And that's why Fi is super compelling - Google is partnering with multiple carriers and giving you the best possible deal for the lowest possible price. What's amazing is that if you don't use your allotted data cap, you won't be charged. So let's say you use your full 4GBs of data, you'll be charged $40, however if you only use 2.5GBs of data, Fi will only charge you $25. The pay-per-use model is really quite compelling when you think about it.
However, there are a few problems when you consider the fact that Google is going the route of an MVNO. Currently, Fi only works with one phone - the Nexus 6. That immediately limits their scope. Being an MVNO means you don't have a huge range, but I don't think that that is the Google's goal here. I think that what they are trying to do with Fi is similar to what they are trying to do with the Nexus program - show the incumbents an example of how things could be better. I doubt that Google really is aiming to overtake Verizon or AT&T in the short term, but rather nudge the industry, similar to how Google Fibre has done in the cities it's become available.
As more and more people flock to affordable plans now that phones are becoming cheaper without too many compromises (i.e. Moto G, E, the Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3, etc), carriers should start to worry. Fi has done what most carriers should have done long ago - turn your cell service into an app. Instead of having to guess how much data you've used, Fi will tell you exactly where you stand in your usage, and that is pure brilliance.
While Fi may never make it to the Canadian market, ala Google Voice, I'm still very much excited to see how this affects the Telco industry as a whole. It's a very interesting time to be a phone enthusiast, that's for sure.