Google’s Project Fi hops between Wi-Fi and 4G for best service

Search giant becomes mobile virtual network operator - but only for Nexus 6 owners

Google is launching a mobile virtual network that will jump users between 4G and Wi-Fi hotspots.

Project Fi begins today in the US, piggybacking on networks offered by mobile operators Sprint and T-Mobile, as well as automatically connecting users to more than a million free and open Wi-Fi spots.

The early access programme begins today, and the current service is only being offered to Nexus 6 customers in states where coverage is available.

Nick Fox, vice president of communications products, said in a blog post: "Project Fi aims to put you on the best network wherever you go.

"We developed new technology that gives you better coverage by intelligently connecting you to the fastest available network at your location whether it's Wi-Fi or one of our two partner LTE networks.

"Once you're connected, we help secure your data through encryption. When you're not on Wi-Fi, we move you between whichever of our partner networks is delivering the fastest speed, so you get 4G LTE in more places."

Google claims Nexus 6 is the first smartphone with the hardware and software to support Project Fi, but also says users can switch between devices under the contract.

"With Project Fi, your phone number lives in the cloud, so you can talk and text with your number on just about any phone, tablet or laptop," said Fox.

"So the next time you misplace your phone, you can stay connected using another screen."

Google is offering just one plan for the service, costing $20 a month to cover talk, text, Wi-Fi and international coverage.

Data costs an extra $10 per GB in the US and abroad, but any unused allowance will be refunded.

Read IT Pro's analysis of the Project Fi announcement here.

Qualifying Nexus 6 customers can sign up to Google's network at fi.google.com.

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