Google Fi, a service by Google that provides telephone calls, SMS, and mobile broadband using cellular networks and Wi-Fi, will stop activating non-VoLTE phones in January. According to 9to5Google reports, this encourages customers to upgrade from their older phones to VoLTE with a $100 credit provided they purchase a new phone from the Fi store and activate it before December 31st.
Since T-Mobile is already moving towards its own plans to phase out support for non-VoLTE phones starting in January 2021, Google’s hand is forced in the matter. Customers subscribe to Fi, but as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO), Fi actually piggybacks on T-Mobile and US Cellular’s networks to provide coverage, which means Fi has to make its own plans of gradually removing support for non-VoLTE phones.
VoLTE stands for “Voice over Long Term Evolution,” which is the standard high-speed wireless communications in which the handling of phone calls is done over LTE data rather than older 3G tech. VoLTE calls include lesser drops in connection, clearer quality, and they are completely unavailable to older phones that only use 3G radios and even some early LTE models.
Google has informed its non-VoLTE customers via e-mail about this upcoming change. To encourage upgrades, Fi is offering a $100 bill credit if they purchase a new phone from the first-party store and activate it before December 31. Subscribers with non-VoLTE compatible devices active on Fi as of December 3 are eligible for this promotion as reported by 9to5Google.
Some good options currently available at the Fi store include the Pixel 4a, 4a 5G, and 5, as well as budget Motorola devices and Samsung flagships designed for Fi. The credit can be clubbed with the holiday season offers as well.