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Google's new Wi-Fi service expands coverage, eats into your data cap

Look for the W+ icon appearing on your Pixel smartphone.

Published onJune 3, 2022

Google Fi package and SIM edited
Hadlee Simons / Android Authority
  • Google has launched the W+ network of Wi-Fi hotspots for Fi users.
  • This essentially serves as a way to expand your mobile data coverage.
  • Data used via these hotspots still counts towards your mobile data cap.

Google’s Area 120 incubator launched the experimental Orion Wi-Fi initiative back in 2020, allowing public venues to sell Wi-Fi capacity to cellular carriers. Now, Google Fi has quietly rolled out the W+ network of Wi-Fi hotspots using this tech (h/t: 9to5Google).

The search company says the W+ service for Fi subscribers uses “select secure, high-quality Wi-Fi networks to improve your mobile data connection.” The connection will be displayed in your network indicator field as “W+”.

Google explains that W+ hotspots can be found in areas of low coverage such as certain airports, malls, and stadiums, adding that coverage will expand over time. The company adds that you won’t be automatically connected to W+ hotspots if a saved network is nearby and available.

Like Wi-Fi calling, but for data

Interestingly, using these Wi-Fi hotspots still counts towards your Google Fi data plan. 9to5Google noted that this wasn’t the case when Orion Wi-Fi was in testing.

Nevertheless, this solution seems in line with a service like Wi-Fi calling, which routes phone calls over hotspots. Many carriers still bill Wi-Fi calls at normal cellular calling rates, treating the Wi-Fi connection as if it were an extension of the network.

Still want to take advantage of the W+ Wi-Fi service? Then you’ll need to be a Google Fi user with a Pixel device running Android 12. So those using Fi on a third-party device are out of luck for now.

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