Over the past few weeks and months we’ve heard rumor after rumor of Google getting into the wireless carrier business. This didn’t really come as a surprise to many as Google has already entered the Internet Service Provider (ISP) business with Google Fiber. Much to our excitement yesterday marked the official announcement of Project Fi, a brand new type of wireless carrier that Google has been working on behind the scenes. Project Fi works mostly via 1 million public WiFi hotspots which a Nexus 6 will connect to and switch between automatically. When these hotspots aren’t available the phone will choose between Sprint and T-Mobile’s networks as a backup, ensuring that you’ve got great speeds nearly anywhere you can go.
But Project Fi is very limited right now and it looks like that’s being noticed by the fierce competition in the wireless market. AT&T CFO John Stephens spoke about Google’s Project Fi on an earnings call yesterday and wasn’t particularly impressed with the offering. He said that the new carrier is too limited in the devices it offers to customers, as only the Google Nexus 6 will work on the carrier right now, and seeing as how the distribution of the service is invite only for now it’s not exactly going to be ballooning and taking away too many customers from anyone for a while. Stephens went on to speak about how AT&T offers excellent customer care and a range of devices that Google simply can’t match, citing that these were the real values that people have been looking for over cheaper pricing.
While it’s obvious that Google’s Project Fi is severely limited right now thanks to its unique network design it’s not intended as a full replacement for most people because of its experimental nature. Think of Project Fi as yet another Google beta project, one that’s full of potential but ultimately limited for now because of the invite system and the fact that you can only use a Nexus 6 on the service. Google’s decision to support practically any wireless band available on the Nexus 6 as well as its seamless WiFi hotspot switching abilities now make more sense than ever, and with the pricing structure of Project Fi and its future expansion carriers like AT&T and Verizon may just have something to be worried about in the near future.