Many Americans traveling abroad stick with cellular data rather than search for Wi-Fi hotspots or buy a local SIM card. But global roaming can be costly and sluggish. Which is why Google's Project Fi wireless service today expand its reach and boosted speeds.
Project Fi will now be available at more than 135 countries, up from 120 a year ago. And the addition of UK mobile carrier Three to the mix promises speeds that are 10-20 times faster than before.
With Project Fi, customers rely largely on Wi-Fi hotspots. When there are none available, phones default to cellular service from Sprint, T-Mobile, and US Cellular.
But Google also offers international access. Calls made over Wi-Fi are free (depending on the country you're calling), calls made over cellular networks cost 20 cents per minute, and data costs the same $10/GB overseas that it costs domestically.
"Leaving home shouldn't mean leaving connectivity behind," Project Fi Product Manager Tyler Kugler wrote in a blog post. "With the addition of faster speeds and more countries for the same fair price, we're one step closer to making your phone as easy to use abroad as it is at home.
Google unveiled Project Fi in April 2015: For $20 per month, users get basic features (talk, text, Wi-Fi tethering, and international coverage), and can pay an additional $10 per GB. Any unused data will be returned in the form of a refund.
Though no longer invitation-only, Project Fi is still restricted to Nexus 6, Nexus 6P, and Nexus 5X. But Google is offering $150 off the 6P smartphone all week when you buy and activate it with Fi.