Google Fi expands protection on Pixel with Wi-Fi ‘W+ community’

Amora R Jelo

Again in September of 2020, Google’s inner Space 120 incubator launched Orion Wifi to let public venues promote Wi-Fi capability to mobile carriers. Google Fi is now utilizing this method to develop protection and calling it the “W+ community.”

Orion Wifi and OpenRoaming

In mid-2021, the MVNO began a trial of OpenRoaming whereby subscribers are linked to “Google Fi Wi-Fi” hotspots to “give [them] protection in additional locations.” Notably, when it was in testing, this didn’t rely towards your information cap. I personally encountered this at an airport final June.

Orion Wifi’s pitch to companies working public areas is that they get a “new income stream” from their present community and it’s “free & simple to activate Orion Wifi monetization” with out “new {hardware} or software program required.” Google at launch mentioned “Orion can’t entry customers’ Web visitors.”


What’s Fi’s W+ community

The Google MVNO final month exited that trial section and now calls it the “Fi W+ community.” This seems in your Pixel’s standing bar and Settings app as “W+” and the mobile indicator (tough approximation beneath of the icon seen beneath) — regardless of being Wi-Fi.

It’s at present solely obtainable for Google’s first-party units operating Android 12 and newer with automated connection if you’re in vary. The corporate instructed us that your cellphone is performing real-time evaluation to make sure you’re getting a high-quality connection. In the meantime, Fi “by no means mechanically connects when one in every of your saved Wi-Fi networks, like your own home community, is close by and obtainable.”

These “choose safe, prime quality Wi-Fi networks” are supposed to “enhance your cell information connection” in areas the place mobile protection is missing. This consists of sure airports, malls, and stadiums, with availability increasing over time. It comes as Google final October stopped mechanically connecting Fi customers to (new) public Wi-Fi networks.

Notably, W+ “counts towards your information cap for the month” and is handled as regular information utilization regardless of the precise community know-how getting used. It’s because Google considers W+ to be an extension of the Fi community and this verified connection to be higher than the low-quality Wi-Fi connections you encounter. Behind-the-scenes, Fi is presumably paying for the Wi-Fi connections, so it’s considerably akin to premium hotspots that you simply’d in any other case need to immediately pay for.

In an effort to supply our customers one of the best cell information connection attainable in additional locations, Google Fi has begun mechanically connecting customers on Android 12 or as much as the W+ community the place obtainable. This consists of choose safe, high-quality Wi-Fi networks to provide our customers protection in additional locations the place cell sign has historically been low, like airports, malls and stadiums. 

—Google spokesperson

The best way to flip off Google Fi W+ community

That mentioned, you possibly can return to a cell community at any time by disabling Wi-Fi.

You’ll be able to extra completely flip off and opt-out of the W+ community by going into Settings app > Community & Web > SIM > Google Fi > W+ Connections and toggling off that desire. I’m already seeing it on my Pixel 6 Professional at this time, however Google says the potential remains to be within the means of rolling out as most customers wouldn’t have it but.

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Google Fi expands coverage with ‘W+ network’ of high-speed Wi-Fi that counts against data cap

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