Google is courting families with a new group offer for its Project Fi wireless service.
Starting Tuesday, customers who sign up for the hybrid cellular/Wi-Fi wireless service will be able to add more lines to their account, the company said in a blog post. The new group plan can include up to six people on one plan for an extra $15 a month per line. This price gets you Fi Basics, unlimited talk and text messaging. And just as with the individual plan, you can add 1 gigabyte of data for $10 a month.
If you use less data than you paid for, Google refunds the unused data to your bill.
That's a $5 discount from the $20 starting price for individual plans. The group option also allows a "manager" --aka mom or dad -- to manage and track data usage from a single account. Managers can see how much data each person on the plan is using, and limits can be set so that the person in charge can pause data service if someone on the plan goes overboard.
Project Fi is an experimental wireless network started by Google in 2015. It uses a combination of cellular coverage and local Wi-Fi networks. The service accesses more than a million Wi-Fi hotspots to provide inexpensive wireless internet connectivity. When Wi-Fi isn't available, it uses cellular networks from Sprint, T-Mobile and US Cellular to provide service.
Project Fi's group plan comes as competition is heating up in the wireless market. Last month, cable giant Comcast said it would introduce its own wireless service next year that, like Project Fi, will take advantage of low-cost Wi-Fi and Verizon's cellular service. Meanwhile, the big four national wireless providers -- AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint -- continue to hammer each other with new promotions.
It's little surprise that Project Fi would add a group plan given that the big national players have focused on family plans as a way to keep customers loyal to their service.
Last week Google said its new Pixel and Pixel XL handsets will be added to Project Fi's limited list of devices. Previously, Google supported only three devices on Project Fi: the Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X and Nexus 6.
To entice customers to sign up for the group plans, Google is offering discounts on its older Nexus phones. You can get $100 off the Nexus 6P and $150 discount on the Nexus 5X if you buy and activate your devices through Project Fi.