Tuesday , December 18 2018

Google Is Adding a VPN to Project Fi for Improved Privacy

Google’s Project Fi mobile service sells people on its inexpensive pay-as-you-go data service and access to multiple networks. However, that setup also means its harder for Google to make any claims about the fate of your data as you roam from network to network. Google is doing the next best thing: It’s giving Fi users a free Google-powered VPN to route all their data. Is that safer than going through various carrier networks? Depends on how much you trust Google.

Project Fi is what’s known as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO). Google doesn’t own any towers or spectrum licenses to create a mobile network, so it leases space on other carrier networks to sell its own service. Currently, Fi works on T-Mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular. Phones sold via the Fi website will hope between the three networks based on whichever has the best signal in a given area.

Each of those networks has separate security and privacy policies, which makes it difficult for Google to make any promises. Its solution is to add a Google VPN to every Fi-enabled phone. This feature is marked as a beta (like oh so many Google products), and you have to turn it on in the Fi app settings if you want to use it.

A VPN acts like a barrier that sits between your device and the network. Instead of your device connecting to a website, you connect to the VPN, and the VPN routes your traffic. The carrier network just sees data exchange between you and the VPN service. That means the VPN sees all of your data, so you need to trust the VPN provider more than your ISP or carrier.

VPNs can make your connection slower because the VPN server bottlenecks your bandwidth. Google claims its servers are fast enough that users shouldn’t notice a difference. You will use a little more data, though. Google estimates a 10 percent increase if you leave the VPN on all the time. That’s bothersome for a service that charges you based on how much data you consume.

Google says it doesn’t keep logs of your data, but it may use metadata to improve its VPN service. Google already has an automatic VPN feature on its Pixel phones via the Google Connectivity Services package. When you’re in range of a known good open Wi-Fi network, your phone may connect to it and use Google’s VPN to keep your data safe. This is most likely the same back end.

The Fi VPN will start rolling out later this week, but it’ll only work on Android Pie. Limiting a feature to the latest version of Android is usually an impediment to adoption, but most Fi phones are Pixel and Android One devices that get quick updates.

Now read: LG G7 ThinQ Is Now Available In the US for $750Google drops Project Fi invite requirement, puts Nexus 5X on sale for $200, and Google finally unveils ‘Project Fi’ wireless service

About Skype

Check Also

Google Confirms Allo Messaging App Is Shutting Down

Google’s seeming inability to settle on a chat platform has been something of a running …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *