Google adds group plans to its Project Fi cellular service

— 8:00 AM on October 12, 2016

Google turned a few heads recently with its new Pixel and Pixel XL phones, the successors to its Nexus line of in-house devices. The phones' availability is currently limited, so people have been paying a little more attention to Google's Project Fi cellular service, which is one of the few places where one can pre-order a Pixel. To turn that interest into a sale or two, Google added group plans to Project Fi recently. It's also deeply discounted Nexus phones bought with the service.

The basics of Project Fi remain the same. With Project Fi's contract-free service, phones attempt to use Wi-Fi for as much communication as possible, using free, Google-vetted Wi-Fi hotspots when they're available. Sprint or T-Mobile cellular towers provide service wherever Wi-Fi isn't an option. Basic plans start at $20 a month, and include unlimited voice calls, texting, and Wi-Fi tethering. On top of the base charge, users pay $10/GB for cellular data.

Now, Project Fi users can invite up to six other people to join them in a group plan. The "manager," or owner of the primary account, still pays $20 a month for basic service, but each additional line is discounted to $15 a month. Cellular data still costs $10/GB. Through Google's Project Fi app, each member of the group can track everyone else's data usage. The manager can go a step further and set limits on the amount of data other members consume.

A phone service isn't much without a phone, though. Project Fi still has a limited range of options, but Google is offering last year's Nexus phones at a discount to those who find its new Pixel phones a little too pricey. The 32GB Nexus 6P has been discounted $100 to $399, and the 16GB Nexus 5X has been discounted $150 to $199. Both discounts only apply to these phones when they're purchased and activated through Project Fi.

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