Oh Me, Oh My, Thoughts on Project Fi

Earlier this summer on our Western Ho adventure (Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Alberta)  we traveled in Canada as well as many other areas without AT&T service. Prior to entering Canada I had call my mobile phone provider AT&T to ask about having the ability to at least text and call from Canada. On their advise I upped my plan to take advantage of their free testing from Canada option. (This plan worked for messaging but not without some billing issues).  I had not thought at the time about navigation. We had with us a GPS, paper maps and my iPhone to get directions and locate camping spots. Unfortunately, after crossing the border we realized the only thing that worked for mapping was our good old paper maps.

Knowing that we would be traveling through Canada again this fall as well as traveling through areas without AT&T coverage I decided to look into Google’s Project Fi.

My son-in-law switched form an iPhone and AT&T a few months ago to Project Fi so I had my own “expert” to help with some of the questions I had. Something to note is that he lives in Minnesota and many options for cell coverage.

For reference, Project Fi

Project Fi is a phone carrier offering from Google. It works by giving you mobile data service on three mobile networks, which your phone will intelligently switch between — it also uses Wi-Fi to make calls and send texts whenever available. Project Fi is a “prepaid” carrier, meaning you pay upfront for your service in the trailing month, which is the opposite of a traditional carrier (Verizon, AT&T, etc.) that bills you after you use the service.

Project Fi is focused on simplified billing. You pay $20 per month for unlimited talk and texting, and a flat rate of $10 per gigabyte of data used. At the start of each month you simply estimate how much data you’ll use and pay for that amount — at the end of the month you’ll receive either a refund for data you didn’t use, or pay a little extra on the next bill for data overages. You’ll always pay at the same $10 per gigabyte rate, though, no matter what.

Project Fi works with a special SIM card — and a little software on your phone — that can authenticate you on T-Mobile, Sprint and U.S. Cellular, and switch between them on the fly based on a variety of factors. Because it can also use Wi-Fi for calls and texts, you can keep using your phone in places where mobile data isn’t that great. Extra software called a “Wi-Fi Assistant” will automatically connect your phone to open Wi-Fi access points when you’re out of the house, reducing your data usage without any intervention on your part.

Project Fi also works internationally in 120 countries around the world with no additional cost for data use or texting. You can call at a flat rate to any number while on the cellular networks abroad, or pay much lower rates when calling on Wi-Fi. You can also call back home to the U.S. on Wi-Fi for free. Data used internationally just comes out of your standard $10 per gigabyte bucket, but speeds are limited to 256kbps

 

When I decided to sign up for Project Fi, the first problem I encountered was that it was not available in my area code 😦     however I  tried an adjacent area code and found availability. (Google assigns a phone number based on area code). That also meant that I had to give up my former Google Voice number which really was no problem since I rarely used it. I also needed to order a phone. I chose the Nexus 5x to use with Fi and ordered it through Google.

Being an Apple girl,  I am still getting used to the Android platform but must admit I like it. One of the benefits from Project Fi is that it uses T-Mobile, Sprint and U.S. Cellular  (includes Verison) to authenticate so even though coverage is slow at my home I had no problem finding service on our just completed Eastern Ho adventure (Michigan, Ontario, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and New Brunswick). We were able to use  Fi of navigation whenever my AT&T was not available and in Canada.

As far as cost, I chose the $20 per month for unlimited calling and texting and $10 for every gigabyte of data I want to use a month.The data can be adjusted at any time. For our trip we came close to using just 1 gig. Other months I my bill was adjusted because I didn’t use data so I was actually billed LESS than the anticipated $30.. per month. Now that we are home for a while I will probably suspend service for a month or two until we need it again. This is another great feature as far as I am concerned.

If I lived in an area with multiple cell options (towers) I would be seriously considering using Project Fi exclusively.

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Winding It Up

Since the last post we have wandered through four states and one provence. We are in Ontario headed home. We twisted and turned our way through Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York stopping in the Adirondacks. The fall colors were vibrant!

While in the Adirondack Mountains we stopped at Fort Ticonderoga near the south end of Lake Champlain in northern New York. It was built by the French during the French and Indian Wars. At one time Benedict Arnold was in command.

And, wait for it……American Revolutionary General Philip Schuyler ( father of Angelica, Eliza and Peggy!) also used this fort as a staging area for the invasion of Quebec. (Shameless Hamilton the Musical reference)

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Another Ticonderoga reference is to the pencil (Alan’s Jacobus’s favorite pencil the black Ticonderoga) has history here as well. The pencil’s name originates in the graphite ore mined on Lead Mountain and processed in Ticonderoga, New York, since 1815.

We passed a sign that indicated the location of John Brown’s grave. We couldn’t turn due to the narrow roads and the quick notice…..the only reason I am bringing it up is that “John Brown’s body lies a-mouldering in the grave, His soul’s marching on.” has become an ear worm for me since seeing the sign. Ugh!

We are driving from Ottawa, Canada up through North Bay, and Sudbury to the U.P. Another new area to explore.

We have seen so much as we traveled east this year. We drove primarily secondary roads and saw some wonderful and iconic scenery. Here are a few reflections.

Many roads do not have shoulders -leading to narrow roads

Signage is poor (for directions)

When pulling a trailer it is difficult/impossible to stop along the side of the road for a better look at things or to find parking

Vermont is GORGEOUS

Going through customs (multiple times) has been no problem, even with a dog in the car

Parking spaces( when you can find them, seem smaller (hard to park a truck)

Very few roadside signs (both good and bad, I sometimes it is nice to know what is coming up before we miss it)

Cell phone reception has been pretty good (except in New York)

Google maps doesn’t always direct you on the most direct route.(even though it may be the fastest…according to them)

So nice having your “home” with you instead of motels

Gas prices were low….with our average mpg  at 10 so we are happy with the lower costs

Thanks to some phone apps we have been able to find RV parks quite easily along the way

Project Fi (and Android phone) work great in Canada and where AT&T doesn’t have coverage)

and finally

East, west, home is best!

 

Low Tide

First hard frost in the morning, Seymour was covered in frosty ice. We stayed comfy inside. The day warmed quickly.

We went back to Hopewell to see what is was like a low tide and walked around on the sea floor.

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Kelp at low tide.

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We ended the day in the shadows of Mt. Katahdin in Baxter State Park Maine. Katahdin is the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, and is located near a stretch known as the Hundred-Mile Wilderness. After dropping off Seymour, we drove to Baxter State Park but found we could not enter because we had Copper with us. No pets allowed! This park is 200,000 acres of wilderness. Inside the park boundary there is no electricity, running water, or paved roads. The leaves are really starting to change, the trees must have communicated with each other that the time has come. We have seen some vivid reds and yellows!

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High Tide

We are in New Brunswick, Canada at the Bay of Fundy. This bay has the highest tides on earth.The tides rise as much as 56 feet the height of a 5-story building. It’s the extended, delta-like shape of the bay that intensifies the tides.

bay_of_fundy_ecozones_map_1390x1123.jpgOver time, the tides have eroded cliffs and left curious sea stacks along the shoreline. One of best examples is at Hopewell Cape, where the Hopewell Rocks are a sightseeing draw at both low and high tides.

Check out this video of the tidal fluctuations at Hopewell Rocks Hopewell Rocks Video

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The tide was coming in when we were there and we could actually watch it rise. We plan on going back tomorrow morning when there is a low tide and walk around on the sea floor. Very interesting place.

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Another interesting point (at least to me) is that we are now in the Atlantic time zone UTC-4. Up until we reached New Brunswick we stayed in the same time zone as Michigan.