Project Fi Domestic Roaming – The Ins and Outs

While the concept of Project Fi is to provide users with the option of two carriers, T-Mobile and Sprint, there could be a time and place in the US where neither carrier has sufficient coverage. It is rare but it could happen. In that case, what happens to your Nexus phone on Fi? The news is actually really good both from a coverage and price perspective.

Keep in mind that if you are connected to Wi-Fi and it is strong enough, you can still take and make calls.  Last month I posted an article on how to tell if your calls are happening over Wi-Fi so you can refer to that for more details.  But assuming that you don’t even have that available, Fi kicks in to “Domestic Roaming”.  That means that it will use whatever carrier is available to get you connected to make those calls.  In my research of this topic, there have been multiple Fi users who have reported that when T-Mobile or Sprint was not available, their Nexus devices connected to AT&T or Verizon for coverage.  This happened automatically for those users who had roaming enabled (Settings>More>Cellular Networks on your device).

I should be clear that I personally have not experienced or used Domestic Roaming.  In all of my travels I have always had T-Mobile or Sprint available to me.

So what does that cost you as a Project Fi users if you happen to go onto the AT&T or Verizon network?  Absolutely nothing.

Whatever arrangements Google has made for Fi users with the carriers here in the US is pretty golden.  Part of the allure of Project Fi is there are no surprises or hidden costs.  Google has taken that to include Domestic Roaming so if you happen to get on one of these networks, you don’t have to worry about getting zapped with a bill at the end of the month.  But, to be fair, that is really

Project Fi Data Use
Project Fi Data Use

how it should work.  If you have roaming enabled on your phone and you are within the US, would you really expect to get hit with a roaming charge?  No and that’s why Google covers these costs in these rare circumstances.

As a Project Fi subscriber, there is nothing you have to do to set this feature up or enable it so long as you have roaming enabled on your Nexus device.  You will simply use your phone as your normally would and let your phone and Fi sort out the network you need to be on to make sure you have coverage.  How can you tell which carrier you happen to be connected to at any time?  The best way is to use the app Signal Spy (you can read my review) which will tell you which one you are using and which LTE band you are using at the same time.

So my question for you readers is have you experienced Domestic Roaming as a Project Fi subscriber?  If so, let me know how it went for you.  Leave a comment here or on Google+

6 Replies to “Project Fi Domestic Roaming – The Ins and Outs”

  1. I just completed a trip to North Georgia near the Tennessee border at Copperhill TN. While in town my work phone ,ATT had full signal and my wife’s Verizon had two to three bars. My Fi Nexus had no cell service at all and would not roam on the other networks even though I had data roaming enabled on my device.

  2. Saw myself connect to Verizon once while in the Great Smokey Mountains, just barely. All the carriers were total crap (my wife’s Verizon phone was losing signal just as much as mine was). Looked at one point while climbing Clingman’s Dome and saw Verizon CDMA showing on SignalCheck Pro and 1 bar of signal on the meter. A few hundred feet more up the trail and I’d lost even that. Didn’t try to use any data or make any calls when I was on it.

  3. Are you referring to voice, data or both for roaming? Fi support informed me that the roaming section under Settings > More > Cellular networks > Data roaming “roaming only applies to international usage”. So I was just curious.

    1. No, this referring to roaming on US carriers like Verizon when in the country where Sprint or T-Mobile is not available. This is completely different than international roaming and is hidden from users

      1. But doesn’t the roaming option on a Nexus phone apply only to international calls? If so, why would you need to have roaming enabled, as you stated?

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