Wi-Fi First, a strategy that uses Wi-Fi as the first connection, with cellular as the back-up, is a having a moment, but will it stand the test of time? Google’s Project Fi is one such service, and it offers some very real advantages, including credit for unused data, but it may be hamstrung by its less-than-global scope. In the U.S., the obstacles Wi-Fi First faces are daunting: a huge geographical area to cover, and consumers accustomed to purchasing large amounts of cellular data for mobile use.
As for Google, they may have a fallback strategy, should Project Fi fail. According to analyst Walter Piecyk, “an acquisition of T-Mobile or Sprint might be an alternative solution.” He sees SoftBank, which owns Sprint, as possibly dangling the carrier, which has proven to be a disappointing investment. However this plays out, however, one thing is certain: the success of Wi-Fi First strategies will depend on whether or not cable operators will be able to offload enough traffic to make the service viable to the consumer.