Yesterday, Google Fi launched an unlimited plan. While Fi labels the new plan as “unlimited,” it has a couple of limitations potential customers should recognize:
- Video streaming will be limited to 480p quality.
- After 22GB of regular data use on a line, data speeds will be throttled to 256Kbps.
In my opinion, 480p quality (sometimes described as DVD-quality) is perfectly fine. However, plenty of people disagree with me and like to watch videos in higher resolutions. I see the reduced speeds after 22GB of use as a more serious limitation. 256Kbps is slow enough to make some online activities frustrating or impossible.
Google Fi customers can now choose between Fi’s old, Flexible plan or the new, Unlimited plan:
Fi’s Flexible Plan
The flexible plan uses the following pricing structure before taxes and fees:
- $20 for unlimited talk and text on the first line. $15 for each additional line.
- Pay-for-what-you-use data charged at $10 for each gigabyte of use. Data charges are capped after a threshold amount of data use that varies with the number of lines on the plan (6GB for a single-line plan).
The flexible plan has slightly different policies:
- After 15GB of use on a line in a single month, speeds are capped to 256Kbps.
- Video can be streamed at 1080p quality.
- International calls from the U.S. incur reasonable, per-minute charges (subscribers on Fi’s unlimited plan can make calls from the U.S. to over 50 countries at no additional cost).
Fi’s Unlimited Plan
Google Fi’s unlimited plan is priced based on the number of lines used:1
|Number of Lines||Cost Per Unlimited Line||Break-even Point|
(Gigs per line)
Fi Flexible Vs. Fi Unlimited
If you expect the average data use across lines on your plan will consistently fall below the appropriate break-even point listed in the table above, you should probably subscribe to Fi’s Flexible plan. If you expect data use to be above the break-even point consistently, you should probably subscribe to Fi’s Unlimited plan.
If you’re unsure about your data use or use very different amounts of data each month, choosing a plan may be harder. Google Fi’s Unlimited plan allows 7GB per line more of regular-speed data use each month (22GB vs. 15GB). If you expect you’ll always use less than 15GB of data per line, you may still want to consider Fi’s Flexible plan. Since the flexible plan has caps on data charges, Fi’s Flexible plan will rarely be much more expensive than Fi’s Unlimited plan:
|Number of Lines||Total Cost (Unlimited plan)||Max Cost (Flexible plan)||Difference|
You can view the math behind the tables in this post here.