Contrary to what some might believe, Google’s new Project Fi service is not the first of its kind to offer WiFi-first mobile plans with cellular networks as a fallback to handle calls when WiFi becomes unavailable. Republic Wireless has been doing this since 2011 and has amassed a small but likely content 300,000 subscribers. The company faces stiff competition from Google’s new venture though, quite simply because Google has much deeper pockets and they’re more well known, so they have the capacity to put the word out with a far wider net potentially reaching a larger group of people. What has taken four years for Republic Wireless to build, could potentially be achieved by Google in a much shorter period of time.
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With Project Fi now in the mix, Republic Wireless may find it harder to grab more subscribers as Google’s offerings are quite compelling on some levels. Both services also offer a few of the same things though, with Republic Wireless and ProjectFi both offering seamless call handoffs with similar tech between WiFi and cellular networks, and both services offering customers the ability to only pay for the amounts of data that they use as opposed to a set monthly amount for a set price. Project Fi could help to cause consumers to take notice of Republic Wireless more and feel more comfortable about using their service as opposed to other major networks.
The two wireless options are similar on other levels as well, as both companies offer a very limited selection of compatible devices. Republic Wireless offers a few different Motorola phones including the Moto X 2014, while Google’s Project Fi only offers one device at current, the Nexus 6, but has potential to grow this lineup depending on how well the service does. Having such a limited handset offering limits the amount of subscribers, but with Google on board now offering a similar service to customers with a phone Republic Wireless doesn’t currently support, it could cause Republic Wireless to make a decision on broadening its phone lineup, which might only improve customer interest as they would have more device choices. If either company sees substantial success and growth, Google’s push into the market may end up causing other larger carriers to look into deploying the same type of technology and bring about even more competition.