Google Project Fi's Unlimited Data: Good or Bad Deal?

Just about every major wireless carrier now offers an unlimited plan. But subscribers on Google’s Project Fi network have had no such option — at least until today.

Credit: Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Google is adding what it touts as a Bill Protection feature to its pay-what-you-use wireless service. It's not officially an unlimited data plan, but with Bill Protection capping what you're charged each month, the new policy effectively functions as one.

How It Works

Project Fi charges subscribers $20 every month for unlimited calls and texts, then $10 for each gigabyte of high-speed data that they use. Under Bill Protection, Google caps monthly charges at $80 per month while still letting users consume data. That means you can use more than 6GB of data each month while still paying a maximum of $80.

Project Fi subscribers will continue to select how much data they plan on using at the start of each month. If they go over that amount, they'll be charged for the extra data. Use less data than planned, though, and Google continues to issue a credit on the monthly bill for any unused data.

MORE: Best Phone Carrier - Wireless Companies Reviewed, Compared

There are limits to Google's generosity under Bill Protection. Go over 15GB of data a month, and you'll still have a monthly bill that's capped at $80, but Google will slow your data. That's a much lower threshold than what the Big Four carriers attach to their unlimited plans. AT&T and Verizon throttle speeds once you hit 22GB of data in a given month, while T-Mobile users hit their cap at 50GB.

Bill Protection is available for group plans as well, though it works a bit differently. Depending on the amount of lines you have on the account, the threshold when Bill Protection kicks in changes. For two lines, it’s 10 GB, rather than 6 GB. For every additional line after that, simply add 2 GB — so 12 GB for three people, 14 GB for four, 16 GB for five, and 18 GB for six. Google will slow down usage at those amounts for multi-line accounts.

Is Bill Protection a Good Deal?

Bill Protection is undeniably good news for Project Fi power users, particularly those who use a lot of data. It's still not comparable to real unlimited data plans, though, as they don't start slowing data speeds until you've consumed at least 22GB of data. At $70, T-Mobile's Unlimited Plan is cheaper than Project Fi's capped $80 bill, and it lets you use a big chunk of data without slowing speeds.

If you’re curious as to how Bill Protection might affect your monthly costs, Google has built a calculator that lets you plug in the number of people on your plan and your expected usage to determine how much you could save. And if you’re not a Project Fi customer yet, check out our Project Fi review to see what we thought of the service when we tested it last fall.

Adam Ismail is a staff writer at Jalopnik and previously worked on Tom's Guide covering smartphones, car tech and gaming. His love for all things mobile began with the original Motorola Droid; since then he’s owned a variety of Android and iOS-powered handsets, refusing to stay loyal to one platform. His work has also appeared on Digital Trends and GTPlanet. When he’s not fiddling with the latest devices, he’s at an indie pop show, recording a podcast or playing Sega Dreamcast.