Google shows overseas data doesn't have to cost a fortune

Google Nexus 6P

Google's plan to unite the world under it's affordable Project Fi cellular service plan is slowly coming to fruition.

Today, Google announced that Americans traveling in Europe will have uncapped access to cellular networks. Previously, Project Fi offered overseas data but capped it at 2G speeds. Today's announcement allows US users to have full speed access to 4G networks abroad.

Project Fi most visited countries

This is made possible with Google's partnership with T-Mobile and Three, one of the largest cellular carriers in Europe. Today's announcement added 15 countries to Project Fi's service, bringing the total of supported countries up to 135. Unfortunately, Project Fi service is still only available in the US for now, though today's announcement may point to European availability eventually.

How Project Fi works

Project Fi is different from traditional carriers in that it offers service for a flat rate of $20 (about £13, AU$25) per month for talk, text, Wi-Fi tethering and international coverage. If you need data, it costs $10 (about £6, AU$12) per GB of data. Google will actually give you back money for unused data to be used for next month's carrier charges. If you go over your data cap, you'll only be charged for the amount you used. For example, going over 350MB results in a $3.50 charge. Best of all, there's no contract so you can leave any time.

Porject Fi Nexus phone

Google's carrier also uses unique technology to seamlessly hop between Wi-Fi hotspots and cellular coverage. By default, Project Fi makes calls over your home Wi-Fi, and will transition seamlessly to a wireless carrier when you move out of range. As a result, Project Fi only works with three phones at the moment: the Nexus 6, Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P.

For more about how Google's cell network works, check out our Google Project Fi guide.

Pushing the competition

While Google still views Project Fi as an experiment, it shows other carriers that it's possible to charge reasonable prices for world-wide cell service. T-Mobile also offers unlimited data overseas, but caps speeds at 2G. However, the uncarrier is currently offering customers unlimited 4G data in Europe between July and August, just in time for summer vacation.

Other competitors, like AT&T and Verizon do not currently offer free overseas data but offer packages. AT&T charges $40 (about £30, AU$52) for unlimited texting, $1 per minute talk, and 200MB of data. Verizon also offers a similar $40 international package, but gives customers 100 minutes, 100 sent texts, unlimited received texts and 100MB of data. Both of these plans pale in comparison to Project Fi's affordability.

Google says it has no plans to expand the service to other phones, but we're hoping the company will at least bring the service to countries outside the US.

Lewis Leong
Lewis Leong is a freelance writer for TechRadar. He has an unhealthy obsession with headphones and can identify cars simply by listening to their exhaust notes.