A few of my friends have picked up Project Fi, a wireless plan offered by Google. This is an innovative service because you can switch between US Cellular, T-Mobile, and Sprint networks in America. Pricing is also very reasonable.
There’s only one plan, starting at $20 per month. The plan requires a minimum of 1GB of data, with each additional GB costs $10. If you don’t use all the data during your billing cycle, you’ll get a refund based on your usage. For a new subscribers, you can get a $20 credit for signing up and using the service.
The best part for travellers, however, is that all data is the same price. This is whether you are using data in the US or roaming in any of their included countries. But, Google Fi is only supported by selected Google Pixel and Nexus models.
However, Canadians can get Project Fi. You have to jump through a few hoops, but as long as you meet the criteria, you’re good to go. Second, Project Fi theoretically works with any unlocked device. At least it has in my case.
For the longest time, I’ve had T-Mobile service for my travels abroad, because they pioneered international data roaming. I’ve now had the service for three years, and don’t plan on dropping it anytime soon since they added coverage for Canada and Mexico. It also doesn’t hurt that I’ve had a $10 Data Plan and now a $20 Voice and Data Plan with no limits. However, I’ve gotten quite dissatisfied with the international roaming speeds from T-Mobile. Even though nothing has changed, I feel the data quality has gotten worse and worse.
Project Fi Canada – Can Canadians Get It?
Even though Google Fi is targeted to the US, Canadians can still get this service. Here are the step-by-step instructions:
- Sign up for Google Fi with a US-based account in the US (or using a VPN).
- Wait for the SIM to be delivered to your US address.
- Download the Project Fi app on Android.
- Activate the SIM Card with a supported device (Nexus/Pixel)
So to be able to get Project Fi in Canada, you need a US address, a US-based Google Account, and a Nexus or Pixel Device. This is the only way to do it. The SIM can only be delivered to a US address; shipping is free. After activating the SIM card with a Google phone, you can then use it in any unlocked device. The network switching, however, will not work on an iPhone.
All this was pretty effortless for me, but I understand how people might have some difficulties. Hopefully you have a nice American friend. 🙂
Project Fi Canada Review
The speeds internationally are quite good. As per the screenshot below (roaming in Canada on Bell), I’ve gotten speeds anywhere from 2-12 Mbps. It’s sufficient for social media, browsing the web, and using most apps.
Google Fi works with the same carriers and countries as T-Mobile, so coverage is comprehensive. Obviously, the more data you use, the more your monthly bill will cost. It’s not like T-Mobile where you can use an unlimited amount of data internationally for free.
So, Project Fi is perfect, except there’s one drawback. If you’re using an unsupported device like an iPhone, get ready for technical difficulties.
This has happened in a few countries so far. In at least half of them, I had errors with connectivity. In Switzerland, my data wasn’t working, so I had to tinker with the network settings, while in Peru, the primary network didn’t support data, so I had to solve that. It still kept on dropping compared to my friend who had T-Mobile.
This might be just bad luck, but there isn’t much information online either, other than the consensus that “it works internationally when it does.” That isn’t helpful at all. It also removes the seamless nature of using only one sim worldwide. When I land, I just want my phone to work. It’s a hassle if it doesn’t, and in the time I spend trying to figure out what’s wrong, I might as well have just bought a local SIM.
Normally, support for Google Fi is great because all their call center representatives are based in North America. However, when roaming, support is useless as they usually ask to check or reset something on the Project Fi app, which doesn’t work because it’s not even available on iOS. You’re basically on you’re own if roaming isn’t working – but if you have instead a supported device like a Pixel, everything should work fine. In that case, getting Project Fi should be a no-brainer.
Summary – Project Fi Canada
In spite of all of this, I still highly recommend Project Fi, especially for Canadians. This will save you so much money over normal roaming plans. While it isn’t perfect because I have an iPhone, this is still a net positive. I love the speeds offered, and it’s a great addition to how I stay connected while travelling.
It also reduces the hassle in getting a local sim whenever you travel to a new country, especially if you’re only there a short time. While T-Mobile is cheaper as it includes unlimited international data roaming, Canadians cannot get it without a credit check. You can still get Project Fi easily in Canada if you follow the steps above.