Before my last trip to Bangladesh, I had many questions regarding international usage of Project Fi. Unfortunately, Project Fi customer service was clueless on some of those questions. However though, many questions were answered by fellow Project Fi users. For the rest, I wanted to try and find out myself.
So I started my journey with a Nexus 6 and Project Fi service activated on it. As my plane from JFK was descending to Dubai International airport which was my transit hub for the next flight to Bangladesh, I turned the Nexus on with a curious mind. As soon as the Airbus A380 touched down on Dubai runway, I saw the message popped up saying “Welcome to the United Arab Emirates” and I was like, oh yeah things are working as Google said.
I was able to browse the web and place calls via default dialer right away. I also placed calls using Google Hangouts. When I landed in Dhaka airport, I received a similar message that says Project Fi has coverage here too. While in Bangladesh, I made most of the calls using Google Hangouts and was charged WiFi rates which is Google Voice rates for international calls, not 20 cents per minute. I should mention here that most of the times, I had trouble making and receiving calls using default dialer app via cellular connection.
Before I went to Bangladesh, I asked Project Fi support that if I remove the Project Fi sim from my Nexus and use a local operator, since the Nexus is unlocked and ready to be used by other networks, will I be able to re-insert the Project Fi sim and resume the service whenever I want? The support team said no, the service can only be activated in the US. I found this to be wrong. For the first couple of days, I used Project Fi and then I was able to get a local sim card and started using that instead. A couple days later, I popped the Project Fi sim into the Nexus just to see if I can reactivate the service. Sure enough, the Fi got me connected to a 3G network right away. One thing I was surprised to see that everywhere I went with my Project Fi phone I was connected to a 3G network even though no local network operator in Bangladesh offers such a wide spread 3G coverage. That left me wondered which network did Google connect me to, I never could find out. I tried the dialer code “Fiinfo” but it always showed T-Mobile. I also found out that every call I made using Google Hangouts, I was charged the Google Voice rates for international calls.
On my way back to the States, I switched the local sim card with the Project Fi one and continued with cellular simplified international journey. I communicated with family and friends in and out of both countries. Everything was nice and easy. Project Fi made this trip a lot less stressful than last time when I had to pay at the airport to make calls to my family. Some of you may remember how expensive those calls are at the airports.
Finally, we have a phone service that works the same way whether you’re at home or abroad. The 20 cents per minute is still kind of expensive but when I see all the conveniences it provides, I can’t really complain. It’ll be nice to see if Google treats all calls made while overseas as Google Voice international calls regardless of cellular or WiFi connections.