Google’s wireless service Project Fi now offers Bill Protection, which a company executive describes in a blog post as “a new take on a phone plan that combines the simplicity of our existing pricing with the flexibility of an unlimited plan.”
Project Fi Bill Protection
Fi customers already are accustomed to paying $10/GB for data. With Bill Protection, when a single user reaches 60 GB usage in a single month, he or she now will pay no more than $80 for the month (including $60 for data and $20 for voice and texts) and can continue using high-speed data for free. If the customer reaches 15 GB, the data speed will be slowed unless the customer opts to pay $10/GB for usage above 15 GB. According to the blog post, less than 1% of current Fi customers use more than 15 GB of data in a single month.
Bill Protection kicks in at different usage points based on the number of people on a plan. According to the Project Fi website, Bill Protection kicks in at 10 GB for two users and the highest monthly charge is $135. Equivalent limits are in place for three users ($170 maximum; Bill Protection at 12GB), four users ($205 maximum and Bill Protection at 14GB), five users ($240 maximum and Bill Protection at 16GB) and six users ($275 maximum and Bill Protection at 18GB).
The advantage of this approach is that unlike with other carriers’ unlimited plans, consumers only pay higher charges in months when they use relatively large amounts of data, Google notes. The example from Google is that a single subscriber using only 1.4GB of data in a month would pay $34. He or she pays $20 for calls and texts and $14 for data (the proration of $60 for 6GB).
Bill Protection, which rolled out in January, is available in more than 135 countries and is supported in data-only SIM cards used in laptops, tablets or cars.
Wireless carriers have a big problem and a big opportunity –and it’s the same basic thing: Content is getting more compelling, more data-intensive and available in more places. Providing subscribers with this content is challenging. The good news is that potent tools, such as unlicensed spectrum, LTE-A and (soon) 5G, will optimize available bandwidth.