If you’re on Google’s MVNO Project Fi, you’re about to get an opt-out feature called Bill Protection from next billing cycle onwards that will cap costs for your data usage as well as your speeds at a point.
For individuals, the way it works is that users pay the same $10 per gigabyte rate for the first 6GB of data used, prorated to the nearest cent. That’s on top of the $20 base price for talk and text services. After the 6GB threshold, users will not be charged for any further full-speed data usage — be it downloads, uploads or hotspot usage — the rest of the billing cycle if they choose so.
That amenity comes with a throttling barrier at the 15GB mark, where speeds can fall to 256kbps. If users want to gain full speeds after 15GB for the remainder of the cycle, they can opt to pay the prorated $10 per gigabyte. Otherwise, the most any user will pay for Fi in a month is $80.
For those on a group plan, individuals will get up to 15GB of full speed data with throttling afterwards. The cost threshold for 2 members, though, starts at 10GB of combined usage and increases the maximum data cost to $100. For every new member, that threshold goes up by 2GB, resulting in another $20 to the maximum cost. Keep in mind that talk and text services per new member on the plan is $15 a person. The maximum cost for a two-person plan is $135 with each new member raising the cap by $35.
The move tacks Project Fi, which amalgamates coverage from Sprint, T-Mobile and US Cellular as well as many dozens of international partner networks, into the price territory of traditional carriers’ base plans for unlimited data. At 15GB, though, the throttle point is relatively low to the competition, even though Project Fi says it stands at the 99th percentile of users’ monthly usage — between the four major carriers’ comparable plans at $80 per month, AT&T and Verizon throttle speeds at 22GB while T-Mobile takes the limit up to 50GB.
With Bill Protection, Project Fi also becomes a postpaid operation, charging for data used during the prior month to billing instead of charging a set rate for the following month to billing, then making adjustments in the next month.
One last caveat: this feature only caps the cost of service per month. If you’re financing a device through Project Fi, the monthly payment gets added to the bill regardless.