Beware about Google Fi and service outside the US!

I’ve been a happy Google Fi customer for about a year, but I’ve just run into three pretty major problems with Fi that I wanted to share. Here’s how that happened.

I lost my phone last week along with the Google (Project) Fi SIM in it, and wanted to order a replacement SIM. Surprise…

1. You can’t ship yourself a Google Fi SIM outside the US!

What about customers who lose their phones while traveling? Google doesn’t seem to care. You need to force a friend to proxy the SIM for you, or have a mail forwarding service further delay things while you’re without a SIM.

It’s worse than that though. While digging around the Google Fi site, I found this in the Terms of Service (under “Using the Services”):

Despite advertising extensive international coverage (and actually working outside the US), …

2. “Extended” Fi use outside the US breaks the terms of service

The Services are offered only to residents of the United States. The Services must be primarily used in the United States and are not intended for extended international use. Further, the Services are designed for use predominantly within our network. If your usage outside our network is excessive, abnormally high, or cause us to incur too much cost, we may, at our option and sole discretion, suspend your Google Fi account, terminate your service, or limit your use of roaming.

This isn’t just a piece of legal fine print. People’s accounts have been terminated by Google for “extended” use of Fi outside the US. Here’s one story:

https://support.google.com/fi/thread/13675468?hl=en

But anyway, I had a data-only SIM as a backup, so I thought I’d just use that for my Internet needs. Here’s another nasty surprise:

3. Google Fi doesn’t support tethering from data-only SIMs!

As in, tethering doesn’t work. I’ve tried, from an unlocked rooted Android phone. No tethering.

If I understood the last bit correctly, you have a backup non-Google data-only SIM and Google says that tethering off their Fi SIM in a device that accepts only data-only SIMs is not supported (tablets, portable WiFi hotspots), so those are unrelated things and you shouldn’t be affected.

I have a Google Fi data-only SIM, in a regular Samsung Galaxy phone. I expected tethering to work, and was surprised to see that it didn’t. Then I read in this Google Fi help page that “Tethering from a device with a data-only SIM isn’t supported”.

However, some folks have figured out how to tether from a Google Fi data-only SIM to a computer anyway.

My understanding, although I might be wrong, is that tethering from the data only SIM isn’t supported, but also not actively blocked. So YMMV.

Did you try both regular WiFi tethering and also USB tethering?

I would agree on this one with Thomas.
They don’t say that they ban it. It sounds more like “we don’t support it, so don’t come back to us asking for help and troubleshooting.” :slight_smile:

Has anyone had any issues with Google actually shutting accounts down? I’ve been in an ongoing process of getting my partner onboard with switching to Google Fi but obviously we won’t if that is a serious concern. I personally haven’t heard of it happening to any nomad friends.

What I’m saying it, tethering from a data-only SIM isn’t working out of the box, the box being a rooted, unlocked Android phone with a custom ROM on it.

I haven’t actually tried to hack my way around it, and I haven’t tried other phones.

Has anyone had any issues with Google actually shutting accounts down?

Yes, see the link in my post.