Google’s Project Fi will not save you from bad cell reception at your home

The only cell phone network with decent signal at my house is Verizon. Verizon is an OK company; they have good customer service. My only complain is they are expensive.

I love the Google ecosystem so I got very excited when I heard about Project Fi. I waited until the Nexus 6P’s price dropped (when The Pixel came out) to switch over to Project Fi.

One of the big features of Project Fi is that it can switch from Wi-Fi to cell towers (of 3 cell networks) seamlessly while you have a call going on. And it can also switch from any of the 3 cell networks seamlessly picking the one you have best reception with.

I made the switch over to Fi.

It was no surprise to me that the 3 cell networks Fi is currently partnered with (Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular) had less reception than Verizon.

But this is where Google Fi began to fail for me: It is not smart enough to know that my Wi-Fi quality is better than the cell tower quality. From my home, it still tries to use the towers even though the tower call quality is unacceptable.

I called Fi support to complain and they mentioned they could update my settings so Wi-Fi took precedence over cell towers. It was annoying to have to call to get them to do what I thought the phone would have done on it’s own based on the advertising on Fi’s website. It was also disappointing that it was always going to choose Wi-Fi when it was available as opposed to finding the best call quality comparing both Wi-Fi and cell towers.

Then came the final disappointment. All Wi-Fi calls have a strange echo heard by the non-Fi person on the call. At this point all my calls at home were going through Wi-Fi; I thought this was going to work out great. But then we noticed that the person on the other side of the call would ALWAYS hear a 1 second delayed echo of themselves. Everyone thought it was annoying and some could not even talk to me because they were so distracted by listening to their voice.

This echo was experienced also on Google Hangouts calls. Others (see here and here) are experiencing the same thing. Wi-Fi calls with Skype, WhatsApp, and Boss Revolution work fine even though support tried to blame it on all Wi-Fi calls for a little while.

Sadly, I had to cancel the service. Cell phone call quality is already crappy (compared to the good old land lines) when things are working as expected; anything worse than that is unacceptable.

 

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