August 17, 2015

Google’s recent announcement of invitations to use their beta trial of Project Fi looks a lot like the limited exposure they gave the now cancelled Glass project.

Project Fi is limited to the Nexus 6 phone due to changes that need to be made to firmware for it to be able to switch between carriers. Google seem to be more concerned with selecting the best signal strength from either Sprint or T Mobile. Mobiles networks are running out of capacity due to heavy demands for data. It is likely that even with a strong signal there is no data capacity available so relying on signal strength does not guarantee a good data flow. Carriers will always give preference to voice traffic and data is given a lower priority. If there is no data capacity available the customer will not be able to make a normal cell call as the Google service is data only.

The ability to switch between carriers and Wi-Fi without losing the connection is interesting if it works as suggested however it is unlikely that Wi-Fi will ever be used as a mobile network due to the need to continuously change between Wi-Fi access points every 100 metres or so. This presents an insurmountable technical challenge to move seamlessly between disparate access points. Remember that access points wil owned and operated by thousands of individuals and will have many different IP address ranges. All the effort and development seems wasted as it will not provide any benefit as mobile use will be restricted to cellular networks and static use to Wi-Fi when available. Switching between carriers is not a model that could be easily replicated around the world.

Dangers of using cell phones whilst driving are being heavily promoted and in most countries road rules are being changed to prohibit the use of cell phones whilst driving.

So what benefit does all this new technology provide. On the surface not much! Google have the ability to incorporate firmware changes into the Android operating system but I do not see any benefit in that model. To gain widespread usage world wide their model needs to be as pervasive as Skype. Certainly the current model will not allow that to happen as they are restricted to one phone model and only within US coverage areas. I am surprised that they did not develop a WebRTC version rather than SIP.

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